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Mr. Eduardo Borensztein, Mr. Peter Wickham, Mr. Mohsin S. Khan, and Ms. Carmen Reinhart


This paper analyzes global commodity trends and concludes that the marked decline in real commodity prices of the past decade should be regarded as largely permanent and irreversible. The authors contend that the analysis of commodity prices should be extended to include the role of the breakdown of major international commodity agreements. In addition, the authors analyze how developments in the former Soviet Union have affected commodity supply conditions.

International Monetary Fund


This chapter presents several papers included in the Bretton Woods conference. The Bretton Woods Conference of 1944 had left many issues of development finance unresolved. In fact, very early, the World Bank took a different direction from that envisaged by its founders. The IMF came into existence on December 27, 1945. The eventual growth in the Fund's activities led to the disappearance of the nonresident Executive Director. A teleological approach in the examination of the IMF’s authority was inspired not only by the principle that the Fund must be effective in the pursuit of its purposes but also by the belief that the Articles, and especially the provisions on the par value system, constituted an international monetary system. In the 1950s, the Bank made an important contribution to helping countries cope with the external debt problems left over from the 1930s. Moreover now it is trying, in cooperation with the IMF, to help countries make necessary adjustments on a case-by-case basis.

Andrew M. Kamarck

This is the final article in our series commemorating the fortieth anniversary of Bretton Woods. Andrew Kamarck was with the World Bank for 28 years, holding a number of senior positions in the institution. Since retiring from the Bank, he has been Associate Fellow at the Harvard Institute of International Development. In this strictly personal perspective, he reflects about the Bank’s past efforts to promote development, including some of the obstacles it has faced, and the important role it has to play in the future.

Edward M. Bernstein


This is the fourth in our series of articles commemorating the fortieth anniversary of the Bretton Woods conference. Edward Bernstein is eminently qualified to write on this topic. He was a participant at Bretton Woods as a member of the U.S. delegation, after having played a leading role in the technical elaboration of the White Plan—the U.S. proposal for the Fund—as Assistant Director of Monetary Research at the U.S. Treasury. In 1946, he became the Director of the Fund’s Research Department, a post he held for 12 years. As architect and builder, he had a profound influence on the institution and its staff in the formative years. After leaving the Fund in 1958, he established the consulting firm of EMB Ltd. and became its President. Among many other activities, he was Chairman of the U.S. government-appointed Review Commission for Balance of Payments Statistics and a member of the U.S. Advisory Committee on International Monetary Arrangements. Since 1982, he has been a guest scholar at the Brookings Institution. In this essay, he addresses a question that has been on the minds of many in recent years.

International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.
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.
International Monetary Fund
This Selected Issues paper attempts to uncover the long-term determinants of the demand for foreign exchange reserves in Tunisia. It assesses the adequacy of current and projected reserves holdings in light of the country’s policy choices. The paper describes recent trends in foreign exchange reserves in Tunisia. Econometric evidence on the determinants of the demand for foreign reserves in Tunisia is presented. The results are used to forecast the desired level of reserves given Tunisia’s medium-term macroeconomic framework and to draw policy implications.
Sayuri Shirai
Using the international input-output tables between Japan and five Pacific Basin countries (Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand) for the years 1975 and 1985, the paper examines the trade structure in 1975 and how it had shifted by 1985. It shows that intra-industry trade in manufactured products expanded as Japan increased imports of more capital-intensive products from these countries. Intra-industry trade of intermediate inputs increased substantially more than of final products, reflecting a trend by manufacturers to subdivide the production process of intermediate inputs and to shift their locations to different countries. This suggests a more active development of international labor in the intermediate stages of production and a deepening of regional linkages.
Mr. Peter Wickham and Ms. Carmen Reinhart
Primary commodities still account for the bulk of exports in many developing countries. However, real commodity prices have been declining almost continuously since the early 1980s and there is evidence of renewed weakness. The appropriate policy response to a terms of trade shock depends importantly on whether the shock is perceived to be temporary or permanent. Our results indicate that the recent weakness in commodity prices is mostly of a secular nature, stressing the need for commodity exporting countries to concentrate on export diversification and other structural policies. There is, however, scope for stabilization funds and the use of hedging strategies since the evidence also suggests commodity prices have become more volatile.