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J. J. POLAK

I WOULD LIKE to respond to a question posed by the Managing Director in his opening remarks as to why the Fund has found it so difficult to make pronouncements on the exchange rates of major currencies. Some ten years ago the Fund did not hesitate to make such a pronouncement. For example, in August 1971 the staff felt sure enough of its ground to propose a new set of exchange rates. In the event, the rates proposed proved wrong: the changes were too small and did not produce enough adjustment. There was, however, a rather comforting explanation: it was not that the Fund’s model was wrong but that the size of the 1971 disequilibrium had been seriously underestimated. In the mid-1970s, the Fund staff started to calculate “underlying balances” for the major countries—i.e., balances that would materialize over the medium term with present exchange rates and at reasonably high levels of activity in all countries. The exercise proved generally right in predicting the fall in the deutsche mark/dollar rate from 1976 to September 1978 and it also correctly suggested that the further sharp fall of the dollar in October 1978 went too far. But the model was never good at predicting what would happen to the yen, and it broke down for the dollar in 1980. Since then, interest rates have been so dominant and so volatile over so long a time, with such wide-ranging effects, and with so much bandwagon riding in both the capital and the foreign exchange markets, that the kind of medium-term analysis in which the Fund had engaged has become largely irrelevant to what happens in exchange markets for the short term and also to what can be made to happen through, for example, intervention or any policy of bands or target zones.

Abstract

This paper describes the essence of the Bretton Woods conference. The Bretton Woods conference was one of a number of inter-allied conferences in the later part of World War II that led to the creation of a new international organization. The point of this paper is not to defend the Bretton Woods agreements of 1944, but rather to stress the continuity of the IMF’s mandate to promote monetary cooperation among countries. The paper also draws lessons for the future from the work of the IMF in the 1960s and 1970s.

International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.
En mettant l’accent sur le travail du FMI et sur les grandes questions macroéconomiques et financières internationales, le Bulletin du FMI présente une analyse des développements nationaux, régionaux et mondiaux, des informations sur le travail, les politiques, les réformes et les activités d'assistance technique du FMI, les conclusions d'études de calibre mondial, des données essentielles qui ne sont souvent pas disponibles ailleurs, ainsi que des rapports sur les discussions économiques et financières au sein du FMI et ailleurs. Publié douze fois par an, ce bulletin de seize pages s'adresse à un large public : dirigeants, analystes, chercheurs, étudiants et journalistes. Disponible en anglais, français et espagnol.
International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.
El Boletín del FMI aborda de manera específica el trabajo del FMI y los grandes temas macroeconómicos y financieros internacionales y ofrece análisis sobre la evolución en los distintos países y regiones y en el mundo; información sobre las operaciones, políticas, reformas y asistencia técnica del FMI; síntesis de las principales investigaciones económicas mundiales; datos fundamentales que no suelen estar disponibles en otras fuentes, e informes sobre debates económicos y financieros que tienen lugar dentro y fuera del FMI. Este boletín de 16 páginas, publicado 12 veces al año, está orientado a una vasta audiencia, que incluye autoridades de política económica, analistas, profesionales del mundo académico y de los medios de difusión y estudiantes. Disponible en inglés, español y francés.
International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.
IEO on IMF exchange rate advice; GFSR: financial system risks and issues for regulators; good times in Belgium; Africa's oil exporters; outlook for Middle East and Central Asia; Caucasus and Central Asia:capital flows; lessons from a decade of crises.
IOANNIS HALIKIAS

This paper examines the credibility of the exchange rate policy pursued by the Belgian monetary authorities of pegging the Belgian franc to a narrow fluctuation band around the deutsche mark, in the context of the exchange rate mechanism of the European Monetary System. Simple interest rate corridor analysis, based on the Belgian–German long–term interest rate differential and taking explicit account of the currency’s position within its fluctuation band, appears to suggest that the hypothesis that long–run exchange rate credibility has been attained should be rejected, even though considerable progress has been made in this regard since the early 1980s. The paper proceeds to decompose the Belgian–German interest rate differential into a sovereign credit risk and an exchange rate risk component, by modeling inflationary expectations, and concludes that long–run exchange rate credibility cannot be rejected from 1990 onward.

Mr. Ioannis Halikias

This compilation of summaries of Working Papers released during July-December 1993 is being issued as a part of the Working Paper series. It is designed to provide the reader with an overview of the research work performed by the staff during the period. Authors of Working Papers are normally staff members of the Fund or consultants, although on occasion outside authors may collaborate with a staff member in writing a paper. The views expressed in the Working Papers or their summaries are, however, those of the authors and should not necessarily be interpreted as representing the views of the Fund. Copies of individual Working Papers and information on subscriptions to the annual series of Working Papers may be obtained from IMF Publication Services, International Monetary Fund, 700 19th Street N.W., Washington, D.C. 20431. Telephone: (202) 623-7430 Telefax: (202) 623-7201

Mr. Manuel Guitián

Abstract

Bretton Woods constituted the first formal international agreement on a code of conduct applicable for economic transactions among countries that had subscribed to it. This pamphlet focuses on only one aspect of that code of conduct: the norms that have guided the conduct of financial and exchange transactions among countries, as they have been presented in the original Articles of Agreement of the IMF and their subsequent amendments. The paper outlines the fundamental characteristics of the IMF, examines the direct link between surveillance and conditionalilty, explores potential risks and dangers that might compromise certain fundamental features of the institution, and presents a set of ideas and proposals to ensure the activities of the IMF maintain continuity of its institutional uniqueness.