With every twist and turn in the global financial crisis that started in 2007, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has been at the heart of efforts to restore financial stability and return the world economy to sustainable growth. This year was no exception. The Fund was focused intensely on providing the financing, policy advice, and technical assistance that members need to manage economic and financial risks and achieve lasting growth. New nonconcessional financing arrangements were initiated for seven countries. At the same time, the institution was pursuing many strands of work to strengthen its approach to surveillance and policy design, to improve the instruments in its lending toolkit, and to improve the governance structure of the organization.
After a major setback in late 2011, global economic prospects gradually improved in early 2012, but concerns over the strength of the recovery resurfaced in the second quarter. Stronger activity in the United States and policies in the euro area in response to its deepening economic crisis helped to address the sharp deterioration in financial conditions and boost market confidence in the first few months of 2012. However, downside risks remained elevated at the end of FY2012, and markets were jittery as concerns about sovereign debt in parts of Europe and pressure on the European banking sector resurfaced.
The IMF continued in FY2012 to respond flexibly to members’ financing needs in an environment of heightened global uncertainty. The demand for Fund resources remained strong and commitments increased further, although at a slower pace compared to the previous year.
Faced with lower fiscal buffers than before the onset of the crisis in 2008, and given uncertain prospects for donor assistance in the future, low-income countries remained highly exposed during FY2012 to global shocks. The IMF worked on several fronts to help low-income countries deal with these and other ongoing challenges they face. In addition to the concessional financing the Fund provided to low-income countries during the year, and the additional concessional resources it secured through use of windfall gold sale profits (see Chapter 3), as well as new borrowing agreements signed to support financing for low-income countries (see Chapter 5), the Executive Board took up a number of issues particularly pertinent to low-income countries during the year. Debt issues were addressed in Board reviews of the HIPC Initiative and MDRI, as well as of the IMF–World Bank debt sustainability framework for low-income countries. Additionally, the Board examined ways of managing global growth risks and commodity price shocks in these countries.
Quota subscriptions (see Web Box 5.1) are a major source of the IMF’s financial resources. The IMF’s Board of Governors conducts general quota reviews at regular intervals (at least every five years), allowing the IMF to assess the adequacy of quotas in terms of members’ financing needs and its own ability to help meet those needs, and to modify members’ quotas to reflect changes in their relative positions in the world economy, thus ensuring that the decision-making mechanism of the international financial system evolves with the changing structure of the global economy. The most recent of these reviews, the Fourteenth General Review of Quotas, was concluded in December 2010.
This article discusses the adjustment that takes place as economies recover from balance of payments difficulties. The experiences of seven countries that obtained financial assistance from the Fund illustrate various aspects of adjustment.
This volume book brings together nine background papers prepared for an evaluation by the IMF Independent Evaluation Office of “the IMF and the crises in Greece, Ireland, and Portugal.” It presents an authoritative work on the evolving relationship between the IMF and the euro area, a common currency area founded in 1999 consisting of advanced, highly integrated economies in Europe. The euro area, or any common currency area for that matter, has posed challenges to the IMF’s operational activities as its Articles of Agreement contain no provision for joint membership. The challenges became intense when a series of crises erupted in Greece, Ireland, and Portugal from 2009 to 2011, and the Fund was called upon to help intervene by offering its financing and crisis management expertise. The IMF found itself in uncharted territory where there was no precedent or established procedure. The chapters, many of which are prepared by prominent academics and former senior IMF officials who are thoroughly familiar with internal procedures, discuss various aspects of the IMF’s engagement with the euro area, including precrisis surveillance, how key decisions were made, how the IMF collaborated with European institutions, and how it designed and implemented its lending programs with the three crisis countries. The book gives prominence to governance-related issues, given the large voting share (of more than 20 percent) within the IMF of euro area members and the subsequent public perception that the IMF treated the euro area more favorably than it does developing and emerging market members. The approaches are both cross-cutting and country-based. Some chapters deal with issues related to the euro area as a whole, while others focus on how the Fund engaged with individual euro area countries. The book contains a statement on the IEO evaluation by the IMF Managing Director and a Summing Up of the Executive Board discussion held in July 2016.
International Monetary Fund. Independent Evaluation Office
During FY2015, the IMF Executive Board discussed the IEO evaluations Recurring Issues from a Decade of Evaluation: Lessons for the IMF and the IMF Response to the Financial and Economic Crisis. The IEO also issued two reports updating three earlier evaluations. The first report covered the 2005 IEO evaluation of The IMF’s Approach to Capital Account Liberalization, and the second one updated two evaluations covering low-income countries: The IMF’s Role in PRSPs and the PRGF (2004) and The IMF and Aid to Sub-Saharan Africa (2007). In addition, the IEO has three ongoing evaluations: self-evaluation at the IMF, data and statistics, and the IMF and the euro area crisis.
International Monetary Fund. Independent Evaluation Office
Following the 2006 External Evaluation of the IEO, the IMF adopted a framework for follow-up on IEO evaluations. The main components of the follow up process are the Management Implementation Plans (MIPs) and the Periodic Monitoring Reports (PMRs). Soon after the Executive Board discussion of an IEO evaluation report, IMF Management is expected to present to the Board for its approval a forward-looking MIP laying out the actions intended in response to evaluation recommendations endorsed by the Board. The implementation status and any necessary remedial or substitute actions are then to be summarized in an annual Periodic Monitoring Report for Board consideration. From 2007–12, PMRs were prepared by the Strategy, Policy, and Review Department. As recommended by the 2013 External Evaluation of the IEO, in 2014 the IMF shifted responsibility for preparation of PMRs to the Office of Internal Audit and Inspection. The IEO historically has played an informal role by advising the Executive Board during the follow-up process.