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International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.

The IMF is helping low-income countries hit by high food prices take appropriate policy action while providing financial assistance to some of the worst-affected nations, Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn said.

John Nash and Donald Mitchell

This paper highlights that the current round of trade talks under the auspices of the World Trade Organization aims at better integrating developing countries—especially the small and poor ones—into the global trading system. For that reason, it was named the Doha Development Agenda when it was launched in late 2001. However, more than three years on, little progress has been made. It took a late July 2004 accord outlining “negotiating frameworks” in agriculture and industrial products just to keep the talks afloat.

International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.

Global food aid serves as a critical safety net for poor countries. But does food aid reach those who most need it when they most need it? And, more broadly, has it generally been effective in “smoothing” consumption patterns—that is, averting sharp changes in the overall availability offood? In a new IMF Working Paper, “Foreign Aid and Consumption Smoothing: Evidence from Global Food Aid,” Sanjeev Gupta, Benedict Clements, and Erwin R. Tiongson examine the cyclical properties offood aid and evaluate how successful it has been in helping the economies it targets.

Willy H. Verheye

This paper describes the need to broaden the agenda for poverty reduction. The broadening of the agenda follows from a growing understanding that poverty is more than low income, a lack of education, and poor health. The poor are frequently powerless to influence the social and economic factors that determine their well being. The paper highlights that a broader definition of poverty requires a broader set of actions to fight it and increases the challenge of measuring poverty and comparing achievement across countries and over time.

Robert O. Blake

For the latest thinking about the international financial system, monetary policy, economic development, poverty reduction, and other critical issues, subscribe to Finance & Development (F&D). This lively quarterly magazine brings you in-depth analyses of these and other subjects by the IMF’s own staff as well as by prominent international experts. Articles are written for lay readers who want to enrich their understanding of the workings of the global economy and the policies and activities of the IMF.

Alexander von der Osten-Sacken

For the latest thinking about the international financial system, monetary policy, economic development, poverty reduction, and other critical issues, subscribe to Finance & Development (F&D). This lively quarterly magazine brings you in-depth analyses of these and other subjects by the IMF’s own staff as well as by prominent international experts. Articles are written for lay readers who want to enrich their understanding of the workings of the global economy and the policies and activities of the IMF.

Shlomo Reutlinger

This paper elaborates the introduction of surveillance that gave the IMF broader responsibilities with respect to oversight of its members’ policies than existed under the par value system. The IMF’s purview has been broadened under the new system but, by the same token, its members are no longer obliged to seek its concurrence in changes in exchange rates. The continuing volatility of exchange rates, and their prolonged divergence from levels that appear to be sustainable over time, have been matters of growing concern.

Alan Berg

This paper highlights that the flow of IMF-related resources to member countries was maintained at a high level during 1979, amounting to the equivalent of SDR 6,917 million, compared with SDR 4,955 million in 1978. Some SDR 3.77 billion became available to non-oil developing countries in 1979. Repurchases in the General Resources Account by all members—at SDR 4.2 billion—exceeded their purchases of SDR 1.8 billion by an unprecedented SDR 2.4 billion. These large repurchases reflected the substantial improvement in the balance of payments of some industrial member countries that had large outstanding drawings.

Leif E. Christoffersen

The vast majority of the world’s poorest live in rural areas. There is no simple solution to alleviating the conditions in which they live, and any efforts made depend both on national and international commitment to the policies chosen. This article, the third in a series, reviews the approach evolved by the Bank since 1973, which essentially concentrates on developing the productive potential of the rural poor.

International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.

This paper highlights that in July 1975, an interdepartmental task force, chaired by the Director of the Bank’s Transportation and Urban Projects Department, had been established to develop an “urban poverty action program.” This task force published, in March 1976, an interim report containing tentative conclusions on the dimensions of the problem, and on the possible strategy the Bank might use to deal with urban poverty. The task force estimated that roughly 25 percent of the urban population of developing countries that are members of the Bank—some 150 million people—live in absolute poverty.