The first issue of Finance & Development, then subtitled the Fund and Bank Review, was published in June 1964—exactly 20 years ago. The Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, Pierre-Paul Schweitzer, and the President of the World Bank, George Woods, defined its purpose in the foreword to that first issue as being: “to explain for a wide audience the business of the International Monetary Fund and of the World Bank and its two affiliated institutions.” The foreword continued: “This business is carried on by specialists.…Between these specialists there already are ample means of communication. We know, however, that many other people are interested in our work, and that they would like to be informed about it succinctly and without too many technicalities. It is to this wider readership that The Fund and Bank Review: Finance & Development is chiefly addressed.…It is offered as a journal of information and discussion for the general reader.”
The journal has been guided by that purpose since then. Its readership is drawn from the diverse groups with an active interest in economic and financial matters. A breakdown according to affiliation in December 1983 shows that the largest number is in higher education (about 33 percent), while readers in business and finance run a close second (accounting for about 28 percent), and those in government (providing 17 percent) are third. To retain the interest of such a professionally dispersed group, the journal has consistently emphasized the publication of articles on a wide range of topics. Its ability to do this is a result of its twin affiliation; through the work of the Fund and the Bank and the diversity of issues they confront, the journal has access to current thinking on the entire gamut of development and financial issues.
The journal has always contained a significant element of educational material on the Fund and the Bank. Two Readership Surveys, one in 1976 and one more recently in 1983, have confirmed that this emphasis is consistent with subscribers’ needs. (The 1983 Survey showed that 68 percent of its readers consider Finance & Development the best single source of information on the two institutions.) Thus, the journal publishes articles of an informative or analytical character on the structure and operations of the two institutions, emphasizing new aspects or approaches as they arise. An additional function of the journal has been, and still is, to publish articles that discuss and analyze development and financial topics of general interest that will be of relevance to policymakers, and academics in particular, and economic practitioners in general.
From the Managing Director of the Fund
Informing the public about its own activities and policies and about current economic issues in general has always been an important part of the Fund’s work. Finance & Development, which has been published in collaboration with the World Bank for 20 years now, has a key role to play in this process.
The issues that the Fund staff address in the journal emerge from their research and their operational work, which is done in connection with the Fund’s relations with its member countries. These issues are often complex and require careful explanation. Finance & Development has regularly contributed to this effort by analyzing and elucidating them for a worldwide audience. Under the particularly difficult economic conditions facing the world today, it has become extremely important for the Fund to help specialists and laymen alike in understanding the nature and extent of the problems that confront us. A broader and better understanding of the problems, as well as the policy choices available, can contribute to their solution. Finance & Development has an important and continuing role to play in this effort.
J. de Larosière
From the President of the World Bank
Development is the Bank’s business. It is a task that presents an immense challenge. For 20 years, Finance & Development has played a significant role in explaining the nature of the challenge, and the responses to it, to large numbers of readers around the globe. The importance of the task is the greater since the progress of the developing countries has in recent years been seriously disrupted by changes in the international economic environment. Today, as the world recovers from its worst recession in more than 40 years, these countries have benefited little from the recovery. As a result, their development prospects remain uncertain. The outlook for sub-Saharan Africa, in particular, is a source of serious concern.
If both the developing and the developed countries are to achieve a stronger and sustainable recovery, greater cooperation is required between governments, the private sector, and international institutions such as the Bank and the Fund. This cooperation must be built on a deeper understanding of the development process. The Bank is keen to stimulate an informed discussion on current issues by exchanging ideas and experiences with others engaged in the same task. Finance & Development, having made an important contribution toward achieving this objective in the past, can assuredly look forward to continuing to do so in the future.
The birth of Finance & Development
The “father” of Finance & Development is Frank A. Southard, the former Deputy Managing Director of the Fund. We managed to locate him in the Washington area and asked him to tell us how it all began. He writes:
The impulse which led me in 1963 to propose creating less technical periodicals was my belief that the Fund was not reaching persons such as governmental officials, bankers, journalists, and students who were unlikely to read the existing publications. This led first to what was finally entitled Finance & Development, and, subsequently, to the IMF Survey, which replaced the older and not very useful International Financial News Survey.
Initially, the proposal was for a Fund publication, and the early planning was on that basis. But when use of a speech in the proposed journal by the then President of the World Bank, George Woods, was mentioned to him, he expressed a strong desire for the Bank to be associated. I welcomed this new direction, although some Fund officers did not. I did so because I felt opening the magazine to a much wider range of subjects and potential authors would make it much more appealing and would greatly ease the Editor’s task. It sticks in my memory—possibly wrongly—that I also proposed the title of the new publication.
Forthwith, a Joint Fund-Bank Committee was set up, and also a group of Advisors. I served as cochairman on the Committee.
I then asked J. Keith Horsefield (who had been the Fund’s Chief Editor and subsequently author and editor of the first Fund history) to search for an editor. He did so with great effectiveness, locating the late John Scott who had a background of professional writing. Scott agreed to establish the new magazine and to continue as editor for a period of years. He did so with success, seeing it through growing pains and providing the basis for its development.
|English||Lancaster (USA)||June 1964||51,400|
|French||Paris (France)||June 1964||15,900|
|Spanish||Cali (Colombia)||June 1964||23,500|
|German||Hamburg (Germany)||September 1970||12,500|
|Arabic||Paris (France)||March 1980||7,000|
|(Annual selection 1975–78)|
|Portuguese||Rio de Janeiro (Brazil)||September 1981||11,000|
|(Annual selection 1966–79)|
|Total quarterly circulation||121,300|
|Estimated total readership||485,200|
|Chinese||Beijing (China)||Annual selection 1983, 1984||5,000|
|John Scott 1964–74||Samuel I. Katz 1977–82|
|Ian Bowen 1974–77||Bahram Nowzad 1982–present|
The articles in the journal are prepared by staff members of the Fund and the Bank. They may be based on research or analysis arising out of the authors’ work, or they may develop from ideas suggested by the Editor. To encourage dialogue and debate, since 1983 the journal has also been publishing occasional articles by invited guest authors on current issues.
Economists have had an increasing tendency to be technical. Finance & Development, however, attempts to present economic material in nontechnical form. To clarify without oversimplifying—to remain useful and informative to the technician while accessible to the layman—is a fine line to tread, and slips are always a matter of judgment. It is a particularly difficult line to tread in articles that aim to explain complex, technical aspects of economic analysis or of the operations of the two institutions that readers may not be conversant with.
The journal enjoys a loyal readership; 44 percent of its subscribers have received it for five years or more. As a controlled circulation journal, it has, since 1967, regularly polled its subscribers; to continue to receive the journal, they now have to return a poll card every three years in order to remain on the lists. Yet although total circulation has fluctuated from year to year, as has the average circulation of the different language editions, these variations have been within a relatively narrow range. Average quarterly circulation has been about 120,000 for the past few years. Since it is estimated that each subscriber passes the journal on to at least three others, the total readership is estimated at approximately half a million.
The journal now appears quarterly in six languages—English, French, Spanish, German, Arabic, and Portuguese (in order of chronological appearance). A selection of articles in Chinese was published in September 1983 and a further selection is planned for 1984. Production is now more complex than it was in 1964, when only three language editions were produced from Washington. In addition to the journal itself, selections of articles on particular topics have been reprinted in pamphlet form. Recent selections have been on education and development, external debt, the Fund’s work in the 1980s, and development and the private sector.