Evenhandedness of the Fund’s analysis and advice is critical to the effectiveness of its engagement with member countries. In this regard, both actual and perceived lack of evenhandedness can be detrimental to the Fund’s credibility and legitimacy. While perceptions of evenhandedness often reflect views about the full range of Fund activities, Fund surveillance is an important contributor to perceptions. Moreover, the consistency of the Fund’s analysis and advice will likely be scrutinized more closely in an interconnected world.
Why did monetary authorities hold large gold reserves under Bretton Woods (1944–1971) when
only the US had to? We argue that gold holdings were driven by institutional memory and
persistent habits of central bankers. Countries continued to back currency in circulation with gold reserves, following rules of the pre-WWII gold standard. The longer an institution spent in the
gold standard (and the older the policymakers), the stronger the correlation between gold reserves and currency. Since dollars and gold were not perfect substitutes, the Bretton Woods system never
worked as expected. Even after radical institutional change, history still shapes the decisions of policymakers.
This paper describes how behavioral elements are relevant to financial supervision, regulation, and central banking. It focuses on (1) behavioral effects of norms (social, legal, and market); (2) behavior of others (internalization, identification, and compliance); and (3) psychological biases. It stresses that financial supervisors, regulators, and central banks have not yet realized the full potential that these behavioral elements hold. To do so, they need to devise a behavioral approach that includes aspects relating to individual and group behavior. The paper provides case examples of experiments with such an approach, including behavioral supervision. Finally, it highlights areas for further research.
This paper investigates the effects of national culture on firm risk-taking, using a comprehensive dataset covering 50,000 firms in 400 industries in 51 countries. Risk-taking is found to be higher for domestic firms in countries with low uncertainty aversion, low tolerance for hierarchical relationships, and high individualism. Domestic firms in such countries tend to take substantially more risk in industries which are more informationally opaque (e.g. finance, mining, IT). Risk-taking by foreign firms is best explained by the cultural norms of their country of origin. These cultural norms do not proxy for legal constraints, insurance safety nets, or economic development.
International Monetary Fund. Strategy, Policy, & Review Department
Modern Fund surveillance needs to be more targeted, topical and timely, better interconnected and better informed. Modernizing surveillance will likely require additional resources, although estimates are highly uncertain at this stage. The paper offers a tentative costing of new proposals with significant budgetary implications. Other proposals could rely on optimizing processes, while others are underway and funded separately; the resource implications of yet others are being picked up in context of other workstreams. Estimates do not include short-term transition costs or pressures on support services and are subject to a significant degree of uncertainty. A flexible approach to implementing the new modalities, characterized by experimentation and learning-by- doing—a “sandbox” for new modalities—is proposed.
Muhammad Yunus, Raghuram G. Rajan, Henry M. Paulson, Jr., Johnson Simon, James Kwak, and Andrew Sheng
Asia Leading the Way explores how the region is moving into a leadership role in the world economy. The issue looks at Asia's biggest economy, China, which has relied heavily on exports to grow, and its need to increase domestic demand and to promote global integration if it is to continue to thrive. China is not the only Asian economy that heavily depends on exports and all of them might take some cues from the region's second-biggest economy, India, which has a highly developed services sector. Min Zhu, the new Special Advisor to the IMF's Managing Director, talks about Asia in the global economy, the global financial crisis, correcting imbalances, and the IMF in Asia. And "People in Economics" profiles an Asian crusader for corporate governance, Korea's Jang Hasung. This issue of F&D also covers how best to reform central banking in the aftermath of the global economic crisis; the pernicious effects of derivatives trading on municipal government finances in Europe and the United States; and some ominous news for governments hoping to rely on better times to help them reduce their debt burdens. Mohamed El-Erian argues that sovereign wealth funds are well-placed to navigate the new global economy that will emerge following the world wide recession. "Back to Basics" explains supply and demand. "Data Spotlight" explores the continuing weakness in bank credit. And "Picture This" focuses on the high, and growing, cost of energy subsidies.