El autor -quien ocupó un alto cargo en el FMI durante dos décadas- en primer lugar centra la atención en el sistema de cuotas y la distribución del poder de voto en el FMI y concluye que se requieren reformas para lograr una mayor equidad entre los países miembros. Seguidamente examina cómo se toman las decisiones en el Directorio Ejecutivo, con énfasis en la formación de consenso en una institución basada en la cooperación, y el historial de supervisión política del sistema monetario internacional a través del Comité Provisional y su sucesor, el Comité Monetario y Financiero Internacional. En ese contexto, el autor también aborda el impacto que tienen en las decisiones que toma el FMI las actividades de los grupos de países miembros, así como los intereses divergentes de los principales accionistas. Posteriormente señala las características distintivas de las crisis financieras de la década de 1990 y examina cómo repercuten en la estructura de gobierno del FMI. El ensayo concluye con una evaluación de la estructura de gobierno del FMI.
The author-a top decision maker at the IMF for two decades-first focuses on the system of quotas and voting power in the IMF and concludes that it calls for reforms to enhance equity among the membership. He then examines decision making in the Executive Board, with an emphasis on consensus building in a cooperative institution, and the record of political oversight of the international monetary system through the Interim Committee and its successor, the International Monetary and Financial Committee. In that context, the author also comments on the impact on IMF decision making of the activities of groups of members, and of the differing interests of major shareholders. Thereafter, he recalls the distinctive features of the financial crises of the 1990s and examines their evolving implications for IMF governance. The essay concludes with an appraisal of IMF governance.
Remarkable efforts were made at international institution building toward the end of World War II. In addition to the establishment of the United Nations, the global political organization, they involved the creation of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (World Bank), and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, the forerunner of the World Trade Organization (WTO). They became the key institutions in the financial, developmental, and trade fields. Today, nearly six decades later, the world’s trade and financial systems have been fundamentally transformed with the pervasive postwar controls abandoned in favor of a system closer to one of globalized free markets. At the same time, the community of nations has become vastly more diversified. The number of independent countries has tripled or quadrupled and these countries demonstrate remarkably different cultural identities, levels of development and welfare, and experience with self-determination.
Each member country is assigned a quota, which is its participation in the capital of the IMF and determines its voting power. In addition, quotas determine each member’s share in any allocations of SDRs. The original formula used at Bretton Woods for the calculation of the quotas of the 45 countries that participated in the conference included as economic variables national income, reserves, external trade, and export fluctuations. The quota formula was, and continues to be, directed in the first place at meeting the capital requirements of the institution.
The manner in which member countries interact with the IMF, and in which the Executive Board, the Managing Director, and the staff work together in conducting the IMF’s business are key elements in its governance, but they are not always understood or seen to be transparent. In one view, the major industrial countries, led by the United States, impose their will on the rest of the membership because they are the majority stockholders of the IMF. Another view is that the prestige of the Managing Director or the monolithic strength of the staff overshadows the Executive Board. A further view is that the practice of consensus decision making in the Board (see Section IV) drowns the voices of the developing countries and of those advocating change and reform. The activities of civil society groups have also highlighted the importance of transparency for the IMF, which should explain itself better to the general public (see Section VII).
In any discussion of decision making in the IMF, it is useful to examine first the size and composition of the Board in order to better visualize the complex forces that are at work among the 24 Executive Directors. There follows an outline of the general approach to consensus decision making, with indications where the system does or does not apply, together with several practical examples of the consensus method at work, as well as of the role of Executive Board minutes and of the summing up in decision making. The need to protect the consensus model is discussed in light of the importance of safeguarding the rights of minority shareholders.
L'auteur, cadre de haut niveau au FMI pendant 20 ans, s'intéresse d'abord au système des quotes-parts et des votes au sein du FMI et conclut à la nécessité de réformes visant à renforcer l'équité parmi les pays membres. Il aborde ensuite le processus décisionnel au sein du conseil d'administration, en rappelant le principe de décision consensuelle au sein d'une institution favorisant la coopération, et la surveillance politique du système monétaire international par le comité intérimaire et son successeur, le comité monétaire et financier international. Dans ce contexte, l'auteur traite également des incidences des décisions du FMI sur les activités des groupes de pays membres, et des intérêts divergents des principales parties. Il rappelle ensuite les caractéristiques marquantes des crises financières des années 90 et analyse leurs implications pour la gouvernance du FMI. Le document termine sur une évaluation de la gouvernance du FMI.
The Interim Committee was established in 1974 with a mandate to oversee the management and continued adaptation of the international monetary system. The Committee collaborated closely with the Executive Board and its work certainly enhanced policy formulation and decision making by the Board. A closer examination of the Committee’s activities, however, suggests that stronger political leadership to improve economic performance and policies, particularly of the industrial countries, and to tackle emerging systemic issues resulting from the globalization of financial markets would have been useful. The Interim Committee was transformed into the IMFC in 1999 with a view to making political oversight more effective in a period of reform of the systemic architecture.
Mexico had begun to experience financial turbulence in March 1994 when strong growth and rising interest rates in the United States prompted investors to reassess portfolios in emerging markets while, on the domestic front, the assassination of presidential candidate Luis Donaldo Colosio heightened investors’ concerns. When capital flight reached alarming proportions in March-April 1994, the authorities allowed the peso to depreciate to the top of the exchange rate band, doubled short-term interest rates, and obtained standby lines of credit from the United States, Canada, and the BIS. To reduce investors’ concerns, the authorities replaced peso-denominated government debt by short-term instruments indexed to the U.S. dollar (“Tesobonos”). The vulnerability of the economy sharply increased when, in a few months’ time, the issuance of Tesobonos increased by $22 billion.
The IMF welcomed the unprecedented freedom and magnitude of capital movements in the 1990s as a result of financial market integration and liberalization. This was seen as enhancing the prospect for more efficient international allocation of financial resources, a lower cost of capital, and a higher pace of sustainable growth. In that climate, the IMF favored capital account liberalization and gave increasing thought to an amendment of the Articles of Agreement to extend the IMF’s jurisdiction to cover restrictions on capital account transactions.