The Fund Agreement in the Courts–XI
  • 1 0000000404811396 Monetary Fund

THIS LATEST INSTALLMENT in the series of articles dealing with jurisprudence in which the Fund’s charter has been involved1 discusses cases decided by the Federal Maritime Commission of the United States and the U. S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, the European Court of Justice, and the Supreme Court of the Netherlands. The issues raise or suggest some of the problems that the decline of the par value system has created or may create for the parties to transnational transactions and the drafters of international or private agreements.


THIS LATEST INSTALLMENT in the series of articles dealing with jurisprudence in which the Fund’s charter has been involved1 discusses cases decided by the Federal Maritime Commission of the United States and the U. S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, the European Court of Justice, and the Supreme Court of the Netherlands. The issues raise or suggest some of the problems that the decline of the par value system has created or may create for the parties to transnational transactions and the drafters of international or private agreements.

THIS LATEST INSTALLMENT in the series of articles dealing with jurisprudence in which the Fund’s charter has been involved1 discusses cases decided by the Federal Maritime Commission of the United States and the U. S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, the European Court of Justice, and the Supreme Court of the Netherlands. The issues raise or suggest some of the problems that the decline of the par value system has created or may create for the parties to transnational transactions and the drafters of international or private agreements.

What Is a “Devaluation”?

In Australia/U. S. Atlantic &; Gulf Conference, Proposed Imposition of Currency Adjustment Surcharge,2 a proceeding before the Federal Maritime Commission of the United States, the issue involved a surcharge on freight rates of 6.32 per cent imposed by the Conference as from January 8, 1972. The surcharge had been agreed by the Conference with shippers in Australia and was designed to prevent them from enjoying a profit by paying freight in U.S. dollars, compared with the increase in effective costs for lines that had to pay expenses in Australian currency in Australia. The surcharge had been calculated on the basic of a so-called devaluation of 8.573 per cent of the U.S. dollar and a decision of the Australian Government to revalue the Australian dollar and to tie it to the U. S. dollar at an appreciation of 6.32 per cent. The Conference filed notice of the surcharge with the Federal Maritime Commission of the United States, to take effect within 15 days in accordance with Article 23(b) of the Shippers Rate Agreement the Conference had entered into with shippers. The Commission challenged the action under the Shipping Act, 1916 4 on the ground that a surcharge could be imposed on 15 days’ notice under Article 23(b) of the Agreement only in the conditions described in Article 23(a) and those conditions had not occurred. Article 23(a) reads as follows:

In the event of … currency devaluation by governmental action, regulations of any governmental authority pertaining thereto, or any other official interferences with commercial intercourse arising from the above conditions, which prejudicially affect the operations of any of the Carriers in the trade covered by this Agreement so as to render it reasonably impracticable or partially impracticable to continue such operations….5

The Commission ordered the Conference to show cause why the surcharge should not be subject to a provision of the Act under which 90 days’ notice was required. The Conference persisted in its position that its tariff was properly filed, and the Commission resorted to the courts for a temporary restraining order. On February 4, 1972 in Federal Maritime Commission v. Australia/U. S. Atlantic &; Gulf Conference et al., the U. S. District Court for the Southern District of New York granted the temporary injunction. In order to be able to grant an injunction the court had to find that the party requesting the injunction was likely to succeed on the merits and that irreparable injury was likely unless the injunction was granted. On the issue of the probable outcome on the merits, the court held that the Shippers Rate Agreement was written in terms of U. S. currency, and it was unlikely therefore that the agreement was meant to refer to a devaluation by some government other than the Government of the United States. The court was motivated by the consideration that “in view of the ease and frequency with which other governments throughout the world”6 had taken action to affect the value of their currencies, it was questionable whether the parties to the agreement would have agreed, or the Commission would have approved an agreement, that “could have been so easily and often changed on short notice.”7 The court then held that it was a “simple and undeniable fact”8 that the U. S. dollar had not been devalued officially, and that only Congress could take that action.

On the issue of irreparable damage, the court accepted the argument that the increased tariff would cause damage to the U. S. wool industry, which had made firm commitments based on rates of exchange prevailing at the time the commitments were entered into, so that increases in cost could not be passed on to consumers.

On January 18, 1972 the Commission issued an Order to Show Cause why the Commission should not find the imposition of the surcharge to be in violation of various provisions of the Shipping Act. Counsel for the Commission argued that the language of Article 23(a) of the Shippers Rate Agreement meant an official devaluation of the U. S. dollar by Congress because the tariffs of the Conference quoted freight rates in U. S. dollars. The Conference argued that the words “governmental action” were not confined to action by the Congress of the United States to change the par value of the dollar, and that those words as well as the phrases “governmental authority” and “any other official interferences” referred to actions by other governments in addition to the Government of the United States. Moreover, the Conference tariff had been amended in certain respects to refer to the conversion of the U. S. dollar into Australian currency. The Australian Government had taken action on December 22, 1971 to recognize the devaluation of the U. S. dollar by revaluing the Australian dollar, an action that fell within the scope of Article 23(a) of the agreement.

In any event, the Conference argued, the U. S. dollar had been devalued by governmental action within the meaning of Article 23(a) by the participation of the United States in the Smithsonian agreement of December 18, 1971 under which the Government agreed to an immediate effective devaluation of 8.57 per cent and the removal of the surcharge on imports in return for the revaluation of certain other currencies. These actions, the Conference argued, were within the powers of the President of the United States.

The Conference advanced a further argument, which it based on certain actions of the Fund. On December 18, 1971 the Fund had adopted a decision to give effect to certain aspects of the Smithsonian agreement by establishing a temporary regime of wider margins for exchange rates based on the par values resulting from the realignment of currencies under the Smithsonian agreement. The U. S. Government, the Conference argued, had joined in a decision of the Fund under which the Fund had revalued special drawing rights against the U. S. dollar in advance of any formal action by the United States. Therefore, in practice, the dollar had been devalued against special drawing rights, because a country wishing to obtain U. S. dollars could obtain them at the rate of $1.08 instead of the former rate of $1 for each special drawing right. The international value of the U. S. dollar had already been adjusted in practice, and the change in the par value of the dollar in terms of gold would not have any further effect on exchange rates in the market.

The Maritime Commission, in an opinion of four Commissioners delivered on September 12, 1972,9 preferred the narrower meaning of “currency devaluation” on the ground that the clause in which it appeared had been inserted in Article 23(a) by amendment after an official devaluation of sterling. It followed that interpretation of the clause had to take that event into account. The Commission agreed with the District Court that the formulation of the agreement and the tariff in terms of U. S. dollars was relevant. The Commission further agreed with the court that the purpose of Article 23(a) would not be assured if shippers could “be buffeted by an unforeseeable number of short-notice increases” resulting from the actions taken by other governments to change the value of their currencies. The Commission concluded that if the Conference had intended the meaning for which it had argued, it would have been easy to employ such language as “action of any government” instead of “governmental action” and “de facto devaluation” instead of “devaluation.”

A fifth Commissioner dissented from the view of the majority that the filing of the revised tariff was an obvious nullity, and that it could be rejected for that reason without a hearing. He felt that the intention of the parties to the Shippers Rate Agreement, and of the Commission when it approved the amendment of the agreement that dealt with devaluation, had to be investigated. It was not obvious that they had been thinking only of devaluation by Congress. De facto devaluation by or flowing from governmental action might have been within the intent of the agreement. The declaration by the President of the United States on August 15, 1971 or the Smithsonian agreement may have amounted to a de facto devaluation of the U. S. dollar. He pointed out that the converse of the assumption that shippers were not to be buffeted by changes in rates made easily and frequently on short notice was that carriers could be buffeted by devaluations made easily and frequently on short notice. He concluded, however, that the Conference had not submitted evidence of intent, and therefore he would construe the language strictly and adversely to the Conference, so that in the event he concurred in the result reached by the other Commissioners.

The Conference petitioned the U. S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit for a review of the Commission’s Order. The appeal was dismissed as moot because a subsequent tariff had become effective that was the same as the one that the Commission had ruled invalid. The Court noted that the issues that had been raised might recur in other circumstances, and if these issues should arise again, judicial review of them would not be precluded.

The practical result of the proceeding was that the Conference was unable to levy the surcharge for any period before the change in par value of the U. S. dollar took effect on May 8, 1972.

The main feature of the case is the conclusion that “devaluation” of the U.S. dollar meant devaluation as the result of action by Congress.10 The words “devaluation,” “depreciation,” “revaluation,” and “appreciation” are useful because they can describe different phenomena, but they are often employed loosely.11 It would contribute to clarity if “devaluation” were confined to a reduction in par value in terms of gold as a common denominator, and “depreciation” to a reduction in terms of other currencies, usually in the market. It cannot be asserted, however, that this usage is always observed 12 or that a precise legal terminology has become established. The etymological difference between them is not likely to promote precision. “Devaluation” means a reduction in worth, and “depreciation” a reduction in price. As the dissenting commissioner suggested, it is not impossible that the parties had used the word “devaluation” to include “depreciation” in the sense of a decline in terms of other currencies or in the sense of what the four commissioners called “de facto devaluation.”

It may be pertinent that Article 23(a) refers to devaluation by governmental action. If “devaluation” was intended to mean only a change in par value, the phrase “by governmental action” was redundant. It is at least conceivable that the drafters of the agreement were emphasizing governmental action, in order to encompass all changes in exchange rates that resulted from deliberate governmental action.

The Fund’s Articles do not employ the term “devaluation,” but refer in one context to a reduction in par value.13 “Depreciation” does appear in the clause “the foreign exchange value of a member’s currency has, in the opinion of the Fund, depreciated to a significant extent within that member’s territories.” In this clause, “depreciation” is used in contrast to “devaluation,” but another provision declares that the avoidance of “competitive exchange depreciation” is a purpose of the Fund. In that context, “depreciation” must include both phenomena.14

If the parties had intended the word “devaluation” in Article 23 of the Shippers Rate Agreement to have a broad meaning, the Commission would have had to decide whether the U. S. dollar had depreciated within the territories of the United States and whether it had depreciated “by governmental action.” The announcement of August 15, 1971 declaring that foreign official holdings of U. S. dollars would not normally be converted into gold or other reserve assets by the U.S. authorities was certainly “governmental action.” Another governmental action was taken by the Secretary of the U. S. Treasury in notifying the Managing Director of the Fund, in a letter dated August 15, 1971, that “effective August 15, 1971, the United States no longer, for the settlement of international transactions, in fact, freely buys and sells gold” under the second sentence of Article IV, Section 4(b).15 On August 20, 1971 the Fund adopted a decision in which it noted that

exchange transactions in the territories of the United States have been occurring outside the limits prescribed by Article IV, Section 3, and the actions taken by the United States authorities do not at the present time ensure that transactions between their currency and the currencies of other members take place within their territories only within the limits prescribed by Article IV, Section 3.16

The participation of the United States in the Smithsonian agreement could have been regarded as a further “governmental action.” Paragraph 5 of the Communiqué of the Ministerial Meeting of the Group of Ten on December 17 and 18, 1971 announcing the Smithsonian agreement included the following statement:

The United States agreed to propose to Congress a suitable means for devaluing the dollar in terms of gold to $38.00 per ounce as soon as the related set of short-term measures is available for Congressional scrutiny. Upon passage of required legislative authority in this framework, the United States will propose the corresponding new par value of the dollar to the International Monetary Fund.17

The announcement by the issuer of a major currency of its intention to make a future change in the par value of its currency was an extraordinary action,18 and one may wonder what was the appropriate word to describe the immediate effect of the announcement on exchange rates. A bill to modify the par value of the U. S. dollar was introduced in Congress on February 9, 1972. The change in par value was made on May 8, 1972, but it did not affect the relationships among currencies in the markets that had resulted from the Smithsonian agreement. In the words of the Secretary of the Treasury, “devaluation of the dollar will formalize the pattern of exchange rates negotiated last December and which since then, de facto, has prevailed in the exchange markets.”19

In its argument before the Maritime Commission, the Conference argued that certain decisions of the Fund supported the case presented by the Conference. The change in the par value of the U. S. dollar from $35 to $38 per fine ounce of gold was not established under the Articles until May 8, 1972. The actions of the Fund after the Smithsonian agreement and before May 8, 1972 were complex. If the par value of a member’s currency is changed, the member must adjust the Fund’s holdings of the currency so that the gold value of the holdings corresponds to the new par value. The Fund is authorized, however, to find that although there has been no change in the par value of a member’s currency, its foreign exchange value has depreciated to a significant extent within the member’s territories, and the member must then pay to the Fund an amount of its own currency equal to the reduction in the gold value of the Fund’s holdings of the currency.20 At no time after August 15, 1971 or after the Smithsonian agreement did the Fund find that there had been a depreciation in the foreign exchange value of the U. S. dollar for the purpose of requiring the United States to maintain the gold value of the Fund’s holdings of U. S. dollars.

After the Smithsonian agreement the Fund took other decisions, however, based on a change in the value of the U. S. dollar to the equivalent of $38 per fine ounce of gold. In order to help to minimize disorder in the exchanges, the Fund adopted a decision on December 18, 1971 by which it defined arrangements that members could observe and be deemed thereby to be fulfilling their obligation “to collaborate with the Fund to promote exchange stability, to maintain orderly exchange arrangements with other members, and to avoid competitive exchange alterations.”21 These arrangements involved “central rates,” as a substitute for new par values, and wider margins than those permitted by the Articles for exchange rates in exchange transactions.22 The margins permitted by the Articles are around the parity between the two currencies involved in any exchange transaction, that is, around the ratio between the two currencies based on their par values. The decision permitted the calculation of wider margins to be made on the basis of the central rates of the currencies involved in an exchange transaction. Neither central rates nor wider margins are compatible with the provisions of the Articles on par values and exchange rates. The Fund’s decision could not validate the practices it was recognizing, even though the Fund was willing to accept them as a mitigation of the harm that could follow from totally unregulated exchange rates.

One issue that had to be faced in formulating the decision was whether the ratio between the U. S. dollar and another currency would be based on the par value of the dollar, which remained unchanged at $35 per fine ounce of gold. The Fund was unwilling to assume for all its purposes that there had been no change in the value of the dollar, because it was expected that the promised change in par value would be reflected in exchange rates without delay. It was decided, therefore, that margins would be calculated for the purposes of the decision as if the change in par value had taken effect already. This working assumption was expressed in the novel phrase “effective parity relationships.”23 In a sense, however, the assumption affected the conduct of other members and not the United States. Other members continued to intervene in the exchange markets to maintain exchange rates within margins, and the effect of the decision was to enable them to enjoy the greater flexibility of central rates and wider margins. The United States continued to refrain from intervention, and therefore it was not faced with the practical necessity of calculating margins for the guidance of its conduct in the exchange market on the assumption that the change in par value had become effective. Indeed, the decision was written in such a way that the United States would not have been able to declare a central rate and to employ wider margins unless it had adopted a practice of intervening in the exchange market.

On January 4, 1972 the Fund adopted a decision that established the principles according to which members would be required to adjust the Fund’s holdings of their currencies pursuant to the obligation of members to maintain the gold value of those holdings. Once again the decision was formulated so as not to require the United States to adjust the Fund’s holdings of U. S. dollars even though other members were required to adjust the Fund’s holdings of their currencies on the basis of their effective parity relationships with the U. S. dollar as explained above.

By the same decision the Fund made a temporary change in Rule O-3, which determines the rates of exchange at which participants provide currency, or convert it, when special drawing rights are transferred between participants. Under Rule O-3, the exchange rate for the U. S. dollar was taken to be its par value and the rates for other currencies were certain representative rates in the markets for the spot delivery of U. S. dollars. After the Smithsonian agreement, the par value for the U. S. dollar was unacceptable as the basis for determining the amount of dollars to be provided in return for special drawing rights, and the Fund therefore suspended the operation of that part of Rule O-3 under which the par value was prescribed in transfers of special drawing rights for U. S. dollars. A formula was adopted by which sterling or French francs would be provided on the basis of the par values of those currencies adjusted by reference to their effective parity relationships to the U. S. dollar and their representative rates. The formula ensured that if the amount of sterling or French francs provided for special drawing rights were converted into U. S. dollars for the benefit of the transferor of special drawing rights, it would receive the same amount of U. S. dollars as if dollars had been provided directly and on the basis that the par value had in fact been changed. In short, the transferor would receive dollars as if one special drawing right were equal to $1.08571 instead of $1.00.

The effect of the Fund’s decisions can be summarized by saying that the Fund did not decide that, as a result of the Smithsonian agreement, the par value of the U. S. dollar had been reduced or that its foreign exchange value had declined, but for the purposes of transactions and operations involving other currencies conducted through the General Account and the Special Drawing Account, the Fund acted as if the prospective change in the par value of the dollar, announced in the Smithsonian agreement, had already taken place.

The Conference contended that something similar to the Fund’s decisions should be recognized for the purposes of the revised tariff. The Commission refused, basically because of the way in which it understood the word “devaluation” in the Shippers Rate Agreement. If the drafters of that agreement had indeed intended to confine the meaning of the word to a change in par value, they probably had done so in the belief that an effective par value system with narrow margins would be maintained. Since August 15, 1971 the drafters of agreements have been forced to abandon that belief, and they are faced with even greater difficulties of concept and terminology than in the past.

Narrow Margins

A case before the European Court of Justice illustrates reliance on a system of par values and narrow margins for another purpose, that is, the rates of exchange to be used in calculations involving the conversion of currencies in connection with the common agricultural policy of the European Economic Community.24 In Gesellschaft für Getreidehandel AG v. Einfuhr- und Vorratsstelle für Getreide und Futtermittel,25 the plaintiff received a license on January 28, 1966 from the competent German authority, under which the plaintiff imported a quantity of maize from France in February 1966. The import was made at a free-at-frontier price of 508.86 French francs per tonne, in accordance with a decision of the Commission of the Common Market, with a levy of 11.59 deutsche mark per tonne fixed by the German authority on the basis of that price. The plaintiff instituted proceedings before the Finanzgericht Hessen in which it claimed that the levy was too high, and the Finanzgericht concluded that the issue depended on the validity of the decision of the Commission. Thereupon, the Finanzgericht, acting under Article 177 of the Treaty of Rome,26 requested the European Court of Justice for a preliminary decision on the question of the validity of the Commission’s decision. This aspect of the case need not be pursued further in this discussion, but in July 1972 the Finanzgericht transmitted an additional question to the European Court of Justice as the result of a further argument by the plaintiff. The new argument was that the levy was invalid because the Commission had erred in failing to authorize the Federal Republic under Article 2(2) of the Council’s Regulation No. 129 of October 23, 1962 to convert French francs into deutsche mark at the rate of exchange in the German foreign exchange market instead of the parity relationship between the two currencies established under the Articles of Agreement of the Fund. The plaintiff argued that there was a considerable difference between the two at the relevant date, and that if the exchange rate had been applied, the free-at-frontier price would have been approximately 1 per cent higher and the levy correspondingly lower.

Article 1 of Regulation No. 129 provides that whenever accounting units are referred to in formal measures adopted by the Council concerning the common agricultural policy, or in provisions pursuant to those measures, the value of the unit is to be 0.88867088 gram of fine gold. Under Article 2(1) when transactions pursuant to the measures or provisions require the expression of a currency in terms of another currency, the exchange rate to be applied shall be “the parity declared to the International Monetary Fund recognised by the latter.” Article 2(2), however, provides for departures from this rule:

There may be cases, in one or more countries, where, on the foreign exchange market which is subject to supervision by the country’s monetary authorities, there are fluctuations in the exchange rate from the rate corresponding to the parity declared to the International Monetary Fund and recognised by the latter which though within the limits prescribed under this body’s rules, are in exceptional cases such as to endanger effect being given to the measures or provisions referred to in Article I. In such cases the Council of the Commission, acting in accordance with the powers conferred by such measures or provisions and the procedures laid down in such measures or provisions in each instance, may decide that, for the currencies in question, the exchange rates quoted on the most representative market or markets, as provided in paragraph 4, should temporarily be applied in transactions to be effected for the purposes of those measures or provisions.27

The Commission argued that Article 2(2) applied only exceptionally, namely, when there were severe market disturbances that threatened the common agricultural policy, and that there had been no circumstances of this kind in February 1962. The plaintiff relied on the Commission’s Regulation No. 67 of July 11, 1962 with respect to the criteria for the modification of levies on grains, flours, cereal groats, and semolinas. According to this regulation, no modification is to be made in a levy on these products if a calculation based on the elements that determine the levy show a variation of not more than 0.75 or less than 0.45 unit of account from the existing levy. The plaintiff argued that a deviation in excess of 0.75 unit could be taken to indicate the existence of a market disturbance within the meaning of Article 2(2) of Regulation No. 129. The Court held that the plaintiff had not established that there had been exceptional circumstances in which fluctuations in exchange rates had endangered the common marketing arrangements or policy. The Commission had adopted Regulation No. 67 in the interest of administrative simplification. The purpose was to avoid adjustments in the levy within a certain range as the result of variations in exchange rates. The Regulation did not imply that variations outside the range were in themselves an indication of serious disturbance.28

The practice of the Fund in valuing currencies in the changing circumstances of the last few years illustrates the problems that must be faced by the draftsmen of legal provisions now that they can rely no longer on the observance of par values and narrow margins. In February 1966, the relevant date in the case before the European Court, the Fund’s system of valuation was based on par values. Calculations involving a member’s currency for the purposes of the Fund’s operations and transactions and for all other purposes were made on the basis of the par value of the currency established by the member under the Articles even though exchange transactions in the market between the member’s currency and the currency of any other member were permitted to take place within certain margins around the parity between the two currencies. Under the Articles, the margins that a member is required to observe for spot exchange transactions taking place within its territories is 1 per cent on either side of the parity between its currency and the other currency involved in each transaction.29 The Fund continued to base its calculations on par values even after it exercised its authority to approve multiple currency practices in order to permit what was in effect a broadening of the margins for exchange transactions.30 In December 1958, a number of European members, including those in the Common Market, decided to adopt margins for exchange transactions involving the issuer’s currency and the U. S. dollar of approximately or exactly 0.75 per cent of the parity between the two currencies. The result of this practice when adopted by two members that used the U. S. dollar for intervention was a cumulation of margins, up to 1.5 per cent of parity, for transactions involving their two currencies. Moreover, the margins might be even wider in transactions involving a currency pegged on a currency that was itself pegged on the U. S. dollar. The European members decided to employ these margins in order to make it easier for them to establish free exchange markets and the de facto (or “external”) convertibility of their currencies for the benefit of nonresidents, and at the same time to economize somewhat in the use of reserves. The Fund held that these objectives justified approval of the practice. It decided therefore on July 24, 1959 to approve, as multiple currency practices, margins of 2 per cent of parity when they resulted from the maintenance of margins of 1 per cent for transactions between a member’s currency and the convertible or de facto convertible currency of another member.31

In 1966, the only circumstances in which the Fund made its calculations on some basis other than the par value of a currency for which a par value had been established were circumstances in which the issuer of the currency was failing to observe margins consistent with the Articles for transactions involving its currency. Under the Articles, this failure does not result in the legal abrogation of the par value, but the Fund nevertheless has the authority, under a provision that compels members to maintain the gold value of the Fund’s holdings of their currencies,32 to apply rates of exchange that reflect the foreign exchange value of currencies that have depreciated or appreciated in the issuer’s market. Because the issuer of what was called a fluctuating currency was bound to maintain the gold value of the Fund’s holdings of the currency, the Fund applied the exchange rate for spot exchange transactions involving the member’s currency and the U. S. dollar in the member’s main exchange market. The principle on which the U. S. dollar was chosen for this purpose was that the United States had announced to the Fund that it observed a policy of maintaining the value of its currency by means of gold transactions with the monetary authorities of other members.33 The Fund applied these rates of exchange in calculations involving a fluctuating currency even if from time to time rates were within the margins prescribed by the Articles or approved by the Fund.

In 1968, when the amendment of the Articles was drafted in order to establish the Special Drawing Account, it was decided that special drawing rights would be defined in terms of gold.34 It became necessary, therefore, to determine how the equivalent in currency of the defined amount of gold would be calculated when special drawing rights were transferred between participants in the Special Drawing Account. It was agreed that if a participant transferred special drawing rights to another participant designated by the Fund to receive them, the transferor should be allowed to choose the currency convertible in fact that it wished to receive but the transferee should be allowed to choose the currency convertible in fact that it wished to provide. If it had been agreed that par values should be applied in calculating the amount of currency to be provided for a transfer of special drawing rights, the transferor would have been likely to call for the currency that was most appreciated in the market, while the transferee would have been likely to provide the currency that was most depreciated. It was necessary, therefore, to reconcile the choices that were to be allowed to both transferor and transferee, and to do this in a way that did not favor the one or the other. This requirement meant that the solution could not be based on par values, even though in 1968 most members were maintaining par values and narrow margins, because if par values were applied either the transferor or the transferee might gain an advantage in relation to the exchange rate for the currency provided compared with the rate for some other currency that might have been provided.

The problems were solved by means of the so-called principle of equal value, according to which the value of the amount of currency received by the transferor does not vary materially with the choice of transferee or currency. If the currency provided by the transferee of special drawing rights is not the currency requested by the transferor, the issuer of the currency provided must convert it into the currency requested by the transferor. The transferee must provide an amount of currency which, when converted, will yield to the transferor the same value that would have been received had the transferee provided directly the currency requested by the transferor. The principle of equal value was achieved by a rule that based the necessary calculations on the par value for the U. S. dollar and, for any other currency, on a representative rate for exchange transactions between that currency and the U. S. dollar in the market of the currency.35 The representative rate for a currency is determined according to a standing procedure agreed between the Fund and the issuer of the currency.

Calculations for the purpose of carrying out operations and transactions conducted through what became the General Account of the Fund once the amendment took effect on July 28, 1969, including operations and transactions in special drawing rights conducted with the Fund itself through that Account, continued to be made in the manner already described, that is, on the basis of the par value of the currency involved except when it was fluctuating. After December 18, 1971 a fundamental change occurred because the exception became widespread in practice and ceased to be exceptional. With the Fund’s recognition of central rates and margins wider than those approved by the Fund on July 24, 1959, and with few, if any, members observing the narrow margins of the past, the Fund decided on January 4, 1972 that calculations based on par values had become almost wholly inappropriate. With few exceptions, therefore, calculations were to be made thereafter on the basis of the representative rates that were being applied for the purposes of the Special Drawing Account.36

Gold Value

On October 27, 1967, a collision occurred on a waterway in the Netherlands between the motor ship Hornland, which belonged to Hornlinie, a corporation subject to the law of the Federal Republic of Germany, and the motor ship Président Pierre Angot, which belonged to Société Nationale des Pétroles, a corporation subject to the law of France. Both vessels sank, and large expenses were incurred in raising the Hornland and its cargo. It was found that both vessel and cargo had suffered great damage. The collision led to litigation that was decided finally by the Supreme Court of the Netherlands on April 14, 1972 in Hornlinie v. Société Nationale des Pétroles Aquitaine.37 In the appeal to the Supreme Court, the German corporation was the plaintiff and the French corporation the defendant.

The parties agreed that the collision was attributable to the negligence of the defendant’s vessel to such an extent that the defendant was liable in damages for not less than the amount to which it had limited its liability. This amount was governed by Article 740(d), paragraph 4 of the Commercial Code of the Netherlands, which had been adopted to give effect to Article 3, paragraph 6 of the Treaty Concerning the Limitation of Liability of Owners of Seagoing Vessels, signed at Brussels on October 10, 1957. The two provisions permit the limitation of liability by reference to a franc with a content of 65.5 milligrams of gold nine-tenths fine. This franc is often called the Poincaré franc. It is, of course, no longer in circulation, but it has been employed in a number of international treaties as a unit of value.38 Article 740(d) of the Commercial Code provides that “this franc is to be converted into Netherlands currency at the rate of the day.” According to the treaty, the amounts mentioned in the treaty “shall be converted into the national currency of the State in which limitation is sought on the basis of the value of that currency by reference to the unit defined above at the date on which the shipowner shall have” taken certain actions to limit his liability. The parties agreed that May 2, 1969 was the day for which a rate should be chosen for the conversion of 2,313,360 Poincaré francs into Netherlands guilders.

The defendant computed the value of the francs at 555,515 guilders on the basis that one franc was equal to 0.240133 Netherlands guilder. This computation was based on a gold price of US$35.00 per troy ounce of fine gold under the Fund’s Articles and the par value of the guilder of 3.62 per U. S. dollar established by the Netherlands with the Fund on May 2, 1969. The plaintiff argued that the computation should be based on the “real value” of gold, which was higher than $35 per ounce. The defendant agreed to pay any excess over 555,515 guilders that might be found to be payable in these proceedings.

The plaintiff contended that until March 1968 the price of gold in the free market had been based on $35 per ounce, but that the central banks of the countries that formed the gold pool had then decided to stop supplying gold to the market at that price, with the result that the market price had diverged from the former price. The central banks of members of the Fund continued to maintain the former price among themselves, but their practice was irrelevant for “third parties,” because the central banks no longer provided gold to them at that price. On May 2, 1969, transactions in gold in the market were freely permitted, and were taking place in the Netherlands. The plaintiff claimed 705,788.67 guilders on the basis of the price in the market on that day.

The lower court examined the travaux préparatories of the Treaty of Brussels in order to discover the intention of the parties because neither the provision in the Commercial Code nor the provision in the treaty answered the question of valuation clearly. Various delegations participating in the negotiation of the treaty had referred to the difficulties of converting gold francs into currency, particularly because of the difference between the official price and the market price for gold. For this reason some delegations had proposed that conversion should be made at the “official rate of exchange,” but it was pointed out that some countries had two official rates, and the proposal was rejected. Another proposal had favored the current market rate of exchange for the currency involved, but this solution was opposed by those who supported the official rate of exchange, and the proposal was not pursued.

The lower court drew from the travaux préparatories the conclusion that the drafters intended that conversion should be at the official rate but that they did not want to provide expressly for this practice because it might not solve all problems, particularly when there were two official rates. The failure to give expression to this mode of valuation, however, did not mean that it had been rejected as the preferred practice.

The court felt nevertheless that because of the changed circumstances since 1968 the question whether computations should be based on the price in the free market should be considered. The clause in the treaty originated with the Warsaw Convention39 and was adopted in that treaty in order to deal with the possible devaluation of currencies. It was incorporated in the Treaty of Brussels in order to achieve certainty for international maritime creditors as to the maximum amount for which they would be able to have recourse against a vessel owner whatever might be the exchange rate of the currency of payment. Certainty for the vessel owner with respect to the limit of his liability was also an objective, although this certainty was not designed to protect him against the devaluation of his domestic currency.

The lower court pointed out that an accessory but not unimportant consideration in the minds of the drafters was that gold had a stable value. This consideration did not mean, however, that they had sought to give protection against the progressive reduction in the purchasing power of currencies. If the drafters had had this objective they would have drafted the provision in another form. The price of gold had fluctuated and at the date relevant for the proceedings was below the level it had attained earlier, but the purchasing power of money continued to decrease annually. Moreover, the price of gold varied with place as well as time. In some countries the free fixing of price was not tolerated. The choice of a free market price, therefore, would involve much uncertainty for the vessel owner.

Finally, the lower court noted that although the official price of $35 per troy ounce under the Articles of the Fund could be altered, considerable stability in the official price could be expected as a consequence of the operation of the Fund. The court concluded, therefore, that the official price must be applied, and that a German plaintiff pursuing a claim against a French defendant in a Netherlands court could not complain if the amount of the recovery was computed on the basis of a price established by international regulation to which all three countries had adhered.

The plaintiff appealed to the Supreme Court, which confirmed the decision of the lower court. The Supreme Court noted that the provisions of the treaty and of the code refer to conversion (i.e., calculation of one currency in terms of another) on the basis of the value of the national currency, and this suggested that conversion should be based on the official par value of the guilder expressed in gold and not on the price of gold. Most of the states that cooperated in bringing the treaty into existence had accepted the Articles of the Fund, under which there existed understandings with respect to the relationships among their currencies expressed, directly or indirectly, in specific amounts of gold. The franc referred to in the treaty was no longer a national currency, but the fact that the drafters adopted as an accounting unit not a weight of gold but a currency with a specific gold content implied that they had in mind the monetary significance of gold and not its commercial value.

The Supreme Court then examined the question whether either of the two theses advanced by the parties would be more effective in realizing the objectives of the provisions in the treaty and in the code, even though the history of the provisions showed that neither the drafters nor the legislature had adopted any particular solution. The Supreme Court noted two objectives. The drafters of the treaty had chosen a fictitious currency in order to avoid tying the destiny of the amount to which liability could be limited to the devaluations and revaluations of a particular currency. Similarly, the prescription in the treaty with respect to the date of conversion was intended to prevent legislatures from destroying the uniformity that was intended by fixing the amount in the national currency in advance. The objectives of avoiding a tie to an existing currency and of freezing amounts in a currency could be served equally well by either of the two theses that were in contest. Moreover, neither would ensure constancy in terms of purchasing power. Computations based on the price of gold in the market would arrive at larger amounts than computations based on official parities. These larger amounts would not necessarily be related to the purchasing power of the currency involved but would be determined by such factors as speculation.

In these circumstances, the Supreme Court felt that the objective of uniformity of the Brussels Treaty would be served more effectively by observing the relationships among currencies on the basis of the common valuation of gold according to the Articles of the Fund, to which the great majority of parties to the Brussels Treaty had adhered.40 This approach would give better results than the diverse and changeable prices for gold in the free markets. The case for applying the official gold value of the guilder was not affected by the disparity between the official price of gold and the price that had developed in the market as a result of the action taken in March 1968 by the countries that had formed the gold pool. The Supreme Court considered that this conclusion was confirmed by the fact that in 1969 the diplomatic conference that had drafted the treaty regarding legal liability for damage by oil pollution41 had discussed the question at issue in this case, had adopted the same franc for calculating the limitation of liability as was used in the Brussels Treaty, and had accepted the official value of national currency in relation to the franc as the basis for conversion.

The problem in the Hornlinie case has been the subject of increasing discussion not only because of the international monetary developments of the last few years but also because at least two conventions that have been opened for signature raise the issue. The Guatemala Protocol to the Warsaw Convention, which was opened for signature on March 8, 1971 but has not yet come into force, does not abandon the use that the Warsaw Convention makes of the Poincaré franc. The proposed International Convention on the Establishment of an International Fund for Compensation for Oil Pollution Damage is intended to supplement the International Convention on Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage, 1969, which was mentioned by the Supreme Court of the Netherlands in support of its conclusion. It is a coincidence worth noting that the text of the supplementary convention was agreed at Brussels on December 18, 1971, the day on which the Smithsonian agreement was reached and on which the Fund adopted its decision on central rates and wider margins.

The purposes of the Compensation Fund are to provide compensation for damage resulting from pollution when the protection afforded by the Liability Convention is inadequate, and to give relief to shipowners in respect of certain financial burdens imposed on them by the Liability Convention. The financial terms that give effect to these purposes employ the Poincaré franc.

One view advanced in recent discussions is in opposition to the decision in the Hornlinie case and holds that the conversion required by the Guatemala Protocol should be made on the basis of the market price of gold. This argument has been based in part on the legal principle that a market for gold was not invalid under the Articles of the Fund.42 It has also been argued that the par value of the U. S. dollar is artificial, that the market price has more meaning for private persons, and that the provisions of the conventions in which the Poincaré franc appears are intended to “protect potential victims from the effects of inflation.”43

Recently, a different view, consistent with the conclusions in the Hornlinie case, has been expressed. On April 17 and 18, 1973, hearings were held before the Subcommittee on Oceans and International Environment of the Committee on Foreign Relations of the U. S. Senate on a bill to implement the proposed convention to create a compensation fund for damage by oil pollution. Senator Pell asked Mr. Herter, Special Assistant to the Secretary of State for Environmental Affairs, to explain the Poincaré franc and what effect the change in the par value of the U. S. dollar and the impending further change would have on the value of the Poincaré franc under the provisions of the convention.

Is the value of the Poincare Franc to be valued in terms of the relatively artificial price of gold (i.e. $42 per ounce) pegged by the U. S. for purposes of stabilizing international exchange rates or is it to be valued by the more meaningful price established in the free world monetary market? …44

In a written reply, Mr. Herter explained that the Poincaré franc represents a particular quantity of gold, which must be translated into “the local currency equivalent” to implement the provisions of the proposed convention. The franc is used as a measure of relative value or a standard in a number of multilateral conventions “because it has a specified gold content which will not change, since it is not in use as a national currency. It is thus a stable measure of value.” He went on as follows:

The gold content of the Poincare franc should be valued in the national currencies of the parties to the conventions on the basis of the official price of gold, not on the basis of the price in the free commercial market. Under the two-tier gold system adopted in March 1968 and still in operation, governments and their entities use only the official gold price for transactions and value computations. Under the devaluation legislation now pending in the Congress the dollar official price will be $42.2222 per fine ounce. Since the conventions are agreements between governments, only the official gold price would be used in translating Poincare francs into the domestic currencies of the nations party to the conventions. The negotiators at the 1969 and 1971 Conference clearly had these official gold prices in mind, as is reflected in the dollar estimates of the Convention figures in their reports.

The purpose of such a stable unit is to ensure that the obligations of the shipowners of each country participating in the conventions have the same value as those of all other participants, regardless of fluctuations between currencies. The management of the International [Compensation] Fund, the assessment of contributions from oil receivers, the obtaining of insurance or guarantees by shipowners to satisfy liability limits, and the certifications of financial responsibility by national authorities all depend on use of such a stable unit, and they could not function effectively without it. The [Compensation] Fund Convention itself provides, in Article 4(6), that the Fund Assembly may increase the compensation limits up to twice the original figure to take into account, among other things, “changes in … monetary values”; this was obviously intended to be the mechanism for adjustment for general inflationary trends.45

One author, discussing the Hornlinie case, has argued that when the equivalent of gold value in a currency must be determined for the purposes of a treaty such as the Brussels Convention as of some date after the establishment of a central rate for the currency, the central rate and not the par value should be applied.46 Although the Homlinie case was decided by the Supreme Court of the Netherlands on April 14, 1972, the conversion had to be made as of a date that preceded the establishment of a central rate for the guilder.

If the thesis is accepted that the official gold value of a currency and therefore its par value must be applied, it is natural to think of the central rate when there is one as a solution. If a domestic court were disposed to adopt this solution, it would probably have to face the question whether there was a sufficient basis under its law to apply the central rate for the currency of the forum.

The Telegraph Regulations and the Telephone Regulations adopted on April 11, 1973 at Geneva as the Final Acts of the World Administrative Telegraph and Telephone Conference of the International Telecommunication Union adopted the solution of central rates in certain circumstances. The Regulations, which entered into force on September 1, 1974, provide for the settlement of accounts by administrations and private operating agencies. In the absence of special arrangements, the accounts, which are to be kept in Germinal francs, another international unit with a gold value,47 can be settled in the currency chosen by the creditor. The gold value of the selected currency is to be determined by the par value approved by the Fund or the central rate if established under the Fund’s decision after approval of the par value. If the par value or central rate has been adopted unilaterally by the issuer, the use of the selected currency must be acceptable to the debtor.48

Two problems arise in connection with the application of central rates. The proposal in favor of the judicial choice of central rates was made, and the Telegraph and Telephone Regulations were adopted, when the Fund’s original decision on central rates was still in effect.49 That decision was drafted on the assumption of fixed and stable relationships among currencies based on par values or on central rates for those currencies for which the issuers preferred the informal concept of a central rate. Whether a central rate for a currency was communicated to the Fund in terms of gold, special drawing rights, or another currency, it was possible to convert the central rate as communicated into terms of gold, because a communication in terms of another currency was accepted only if a par value or central rate was being observed for that currency. If par values were acceptable as a solution of the problem of uniform value under the conventions that apply a concept of gold value, central rates could have been defended just as readily under the original decision on central rates.

The Fund has amended the original decision on central rates 50 in a way that weakens the justification for the application of them as a solution of the problem. Certain members of the European Economic Community that purported to maintain central rates under the original decision maintain transactions among their own currencies within announced margins around central rates but not transactions involving their currencies and the U. S. dollar. It became difficult, therefore, to resist the argument that a member should be entitled to regard a rate for its currency as a central rate, if it wished, when it was maintaining a rate for its currency within margins of a relationship to a currency, such as sterling, for which the issuer itself was not maintaining a stable rate based on a par value or central rate. If a central rate for a currency was defined in terms of a currency that was not itself stable in the way that has been described, the central rate could not be turned into a gold value. Furthermore, it could no longer be held that a fixed and stable pattern of exchange changes would prevail among currencies on the basis of par values or central rates that would satisfy the objective of uniform value in the discharge of obligations under conventions providing for compensation or the limitation of liability. The amendment of the decision on central rates recognized that currencies are fluctuating in different degrees against each other in the markets.

A second and equally telling criticism of the use of central rates, or indeed of par values, to solve the problem of valuation, whether under the original or the amended decision, is that they can be associated with wide margins. As the Fund’s practice in connection with transactions conducted through the General Account shows, it was justifiable to use par values in measuring the equivalent of gold value in terms of a currency only when narrow margins were observed for exchange transactions. Even in such circumstances, the drafters of the amendment to the Articles preferred not to use par values as a basis for determining the equivalent in terms of a currency of the gold value of special drawing rights. Once a member availed itself of wider margins, whether in association with a par value or a central rate, the Fund employed market rates of exchange in determining the gold value of the member’s currency.51 Exchange rates could vary too much from the relationship based on the par values or central rates of the currencies involved in a transaction to justify the use of the par value or central rate as an equitable measurement of gold value. Under the original decision it was possible that exchange rates might differ by as much as 4½ per cent, and in some circumstances even 6½ per cent, from the relationship based on par values or central rates. The margins are defined in a different way under the amended decision, but they continue to be wider than those that are valid under the Articles.52 If the objective of a treaty is to ensure the payment of uniform amounts of currency as the equivalent of gold value, whatever currency may be used to obtain or make payment, the use of central rates, or for that matter par values, is unlikely to achieve the result of uniformity if they are associated with wide margins.

The Supreme Court of the Netherlands emphasized the importance of a solution based on the practice of the Fund because the Fund is the central international institution in monetary matters and because the countries involved in the litigation were members of the Fund. The unsatisfactory results that would be achieved by applying par values or central rates in present conditions does not mean that a solution can no longer be based on the practice of the Fund. It has been seen that operations and transactions under the Articles are based on two gold clauses. One of them requires members to maintain the gold value of the Fund’s holdings of their currencies in the General Account, and the other requires that designated transferees of special drawing rights must provide equal value in terms of currency, on the basis of the gold value of special drawing rights, whatever the currency they provide. For both these purposes, the Fund prescribes the appropriate rates of exchange for any currency that is involved in an operation or transaction. Until the end of June 1974, the exchange rate for the U. S. dollar for this purpose was taken to be its par value, and for other currencies the representative market rate for spot delivery of the U. S. dollar was applied. The Fund made a temporary exception, however, for certain transactions in special drawing rights, at the instance of the European members that were maintaining margins for exchange transactions between their currencies but not for transactions involving U. S. dollars. They objected to the assumption that the exchange rate for the U. S. dollar was equivalent to par for a number of reasons, including the fact that the United States was not intervening in the markets, converting official holdings of dollars into gold or other reserve assets, or taking other appropriate measures to maintain margins for exchange transactions. Participants in the Special Drawing Account transferring special drawing rights within the scope of the temporary exception were allowed to conduct the transactions on the basis of the par value or central rate of the currency provided in return for the transfer.

The exchange rates employed by the Fund under the practice as described above may seem to have been fictitious as determinations of gold value, but they were no more fictitious than any other so-called official gold value in circumstances in which no member maintains the value of its currency by means of transactions in gold. If the hypothesis of a fixed value for the dollar equal to its par value is accepted, the solution of the rates of exchange employed by the Fund for its own purposes would have been superior to the use of par values or central rates for the purposes of the conventions. The Fund’s practice was based on market rates, and therefore achieved equal value among currencies and did so in a realistic way.

The Fund’s move on July 1, 1974 to a new mode of valuation in its two Accounts was based on the principle that the gold content of the special drawing right is equivalent to a prescribed combination of 16 currencies. This technique also can be regarded as determining gold value53 because it is being applied under the two gold clauses in the present Articles. The new mode of valuation is available, therefore, for determining the equivalence of gold value in any currency that must be calculated under international conventions of the kind that was involved in the Hornlinie case. The technique is being applied by the Fund to give effect to the express requirement in the Articles of equal value in transactions involving special drawing rights, and it might be applied therefore under conventions in which a concept similar to equal value is implicit. This conclusion rests on the assumption that courts will prefer the reasoning of the Supreme Court of the Netherlands in choosing an official mode of valuation and one that is consistent with the practice of the Fund. The solution has been recommended already by the author of a recent study of the problem.54


The Role of Incomes Policy in Industrial Countries Since World War II 1

Anne Romanis Braun

The term “incomes policy” comprehends specific measures aimed at moderating the rate at which prices and wages rise by curbing the exploitation of market power by business, labor, and professional groups. Measures included are described in Section I.

Since World War II there have been three periods of strong interest in incomes policy: the immediate postwar years, the early 1960s, and recent years. The objectives, general approach, and specific measures adopted during these periods differed widely as a result of different conditions prevailing.

After the War, incomes policies were implemented in several European countries, in the context of scarcities of goods and shortage of foreign exchange. Policies involving a considerable element of compulsion were then associated with other restrictions, such as direction of labor and rationing. Since the international market was fractured by direct controls and high tariffs, wage decisions were largely insulated from external influences, and the industrial countries approximated to closed economies.

The second phase of interest in incomes policy in the early 1960s occurred at a time of unusually strong competition in the international market. Attention was concentrated upon voluntary measures aimed at influencing the climate of opinion and wage-bargaining attitudes, especially by formulating productivity-based guidelines. Wage restraint could be presented to wage earners as necessary for maintaining full employment in a world in which there were strong pressures for price stability. Interest centered on moderating wage increases rather than on restraining price increases directly, because recent experience suggested that prices could be stabilized if unit labor costs were prevented from rising.

Stronger measures were applied by several countries at the end of the 1960s and in the early 1970s. The greater emphasis on price controls in recent incomes policies stemmed from a growing belief that prices were more amenable than wages to direct control, and from a recognition of the need for specific price restraints as a means of preventing large wage increases in some industries, which could set off excessively large increases in wages generally. As a crucial role played by efforts to maintain relative levels of pay became clearer, the case for coordination of wage and salary increases was strengthened.

Not surprisingly, the results achieved by incomes policy were more apparent in the early postwar period than in recent years. The adaptation of wage-bargaining practices to the expectation of high levels of employment, and the “openness” of industrial countries under fixed exchange rates increased the difficulty of implementing incomes policy in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

At current high rates of inflation and of unemployment, there is growing recognition of the threat that inflation poses to political and economic institutions. Although the recent results of incomes policy have not been striking, present circumstances may be more conducive for success. Experience suggests that incomes policy may be most effective in restraining wage and price increases under conditions of less than full employment.

The Impact of U. S. Controls on Capital Outflows on the U. S. Balance of Payments: An Exploratory Study1

John Hewson and Eisuke Sakakibara

During the 1960s the U. S. authorities adopted several capital control measures in an attempt to stem capital outflows and thus to improve the U. S. balance of payments—specifically, the Interest Equalization Tax (IET), the Voluntary Foreign Credit Restraint (VFCR) program, and the initially voluntary, but later mandatory, Foreign Direct Investment program. The U. S. authorities, however, refrained from any attempt to control flows of foreign-owned capital.

In attempting to quantify the impact of these control packages, we have worked from the basic premise that the effectiveness of capital control measures should be appraised on the basis of their impact on the total balance of payments, rather than simply on the basis of their direct impact on the particular flows to which they were directed. However, since an evaluation of the impact of controls on the whole balance of payments would be more than could be adequately handled within the confines of a single article, this paper has concentrated on the impact of controls on the capital account, leaving an investigation of their possible impact on the current account for another occasion.

The basic conclusion of the analysis was that although the U. S. control measures appeared to have significant effects on the capital transactions that they were designed to influence, the offsets to these programs were sufficiently large so that the control measures did not improve the overall U. S. balance of payments.

The enactment of the IET in September 1964 appeared to produce a significant increase in the outflow of capital in the following two quarters. Although some of this outflow may be attributed to attempts to circumvent the tax (for example, by borrowing from U. S. banks—borrowing that was not initially subject to the IET), it probably also reflected the anticipation of much wider capital control programs sometime in 1965. With respect to the 1965 package of controls, it seems that its favorable impact (largely through the VFCR program) on total (bank and nonbank) short-term claims was negated by a reduction of comparable magnitude in private liquid liabilities to foreigners (and perhaps a reduction in other short-term liabilities). These adverse effects were the consequence of the shift of liabilities that accompanied the movement of loan activity to Europe and the Euro-dollar market, following the imposition of the U.S. controls. Furthermore, on the basis of the aggregate capital equation, there was reason to suppose that there were additional offsets to the 1965 package through long-term capital transactions. Similarly, the impact of the 1968 package was also completely offset; although the more stringent VFCR program had some direct impact on the claims equation, this was again offset by a reduction in liquid liabilities to private foreigners. While the 1968 package undoubtedly had a favorable effect on direct investment, the net impact of the 1968 package on aggregate capital seems to have been negligible.

Fiscal Incidence Studies in Developing Countries: Survey and Critique 1

Luc De Wulf

Most government expenditure is financed by taxes, which not only raise revenue but also often constitute a major government instrument to influence income distribution. The effects of government expenditure on income distribution have received considerable attention in recent years. Therefore, fiscal incidence studies that estimate, for a specific country at a specific time, who benefits from expenditure and who is burdened by taxes have become increasingly common.

This review indicates that these studies draw on quite disparate data and use diverse methodologies. Since the results are quite sensitive to the methodology adopted, any comparison of results from different studies should be either avoided or made with extreme caution. This caution is suggested not only because of the difficulties with the data and the variations that arise from using different tax or expenditure incidence assumptions or income concepts but also because of some more basic problems with fiscal incidence studies as a whole.

Such studies inevitably compare the observed income distribution with a hypothetical one. This comparison is, in fact, meaningless, because the existing income distribution, to a large extent, is determined by the existing tax and expenditure system, and the hypothetical distribution—the one that would exist in a zero budget situation or in a situation where a completely different budget would prevail—is either absurd or unknown. It is, therefore, most unclear as to what is being compared to what in this approach. Until general equilibrium models are built that allow researchers to trace the full effects of wholesale budget substitutions on the distribution of income, partial incidence studies are much more reliable guides than are system incidence studies.

Despite all the conceptual and empirical shortcomings of fiscal incidence studies, it is interesting to consider the results of the studies that have been carried out for developing countries. Of the 44 tax incidence studies covered in this survey (excluding the 22 studies on India), a general impression of the rate graduation could be obtained for only 32—22 of which suggested some progressivity in the effective tax rate schedule. This “favorable” view contrasts with the widely held suspicion that revenue systems relying heavily on indirect taxes are regressive.

The dualistic nature of most developing economies and the fact that consumption patterns of those who live in the subsistence sector include hardly any products burdened by indirect taxes should, on the contrary, lead one to expect that indirect taxes might constitute a progressive element in the tax system. This conclusion was borne out in most of the studies, which also frequently noted that the observed progressivity did not reach those at the top of the income scale. Personal income tax, generally considered the most effective means of taxing the rich, is relatively unimportant in most developing countries. The often more adequate administration of indirect taxes, the frequent existence of rate differentiation for various goods, and the widely different consumption patterns of different subgroups of the tax-paying population have resulted in a progressive incidence pattern for indirect taxes in many countries. Generalizations about taxes in developed countries, where direct taxes are found to be progressive (up to a certain level) and indirect taxes proportional or regressive, are thus not relevant for analyzing most developing countries, where these results are, most commonly, reversed.

The net fiscal burden or total budget impact on income distribution is obtained by netting out the tax and expenditure incidence estimates for each subgroup of the population. Most of these studies concluded that the very rich were net contributors to government operations, while all others were net beneficiaries. This is so because most of the burden of deficit financing or borrowing was not allocated, some expenditure was financed through foreign aid, and some taxes were assumed to be shifted outside the country.

If any conclusion can be derived from these studies, it would seem to be that governments with the political will to redistribute income through budget policy can probably do so most efficiently by judiciously strengthening progressive taxes and by increasing expenditure that benefits lower-income families. The most useful contribution that further research on fiscal incidence could make would be to indicate exactly which policy instruments are likely, in particular circumstances, to affect distribution in the desired direction. A shift away from studies that purport to estimate the distributional impact of the budget as a whole, or of all taxes, or all expenditure, and a movement toward more disaggregated estimates thus appear to be both theoretically more defensible and politically more relevant.

Financial Intermediation, Savings Mobilization, and Entrepreneurial Development: The African Experience1

Rattan J. Bhatia and Deena R. Khatkhate

The paper attempts to find out how far financial intermediation has progressed with economic growth in selected African countries and whether it has been instrumental in generating development. On an analytical plane, it is argued that while the aggregative financial policies may, at best, help to bring about a mobilization of resources through financial intermediation, they may not be adequate instruments to ensure the optimum use of the mobilized resources. This is not so much to argue against the policy of encouraging financial intermediation, per se, as it is to point out that this policy must be supplemented by a whole range of measures directed toward minimizing both the risk of lending to new entrepreneurs and the cost of administering loans. Such a policy implies the use of a more selective approach to allocating funds than the existing financial institutions can offer on their own. On an empirical plane, it is concluded on the basis of the experience of certain African countries that while no definitive relationship is discerned in these countries between financial intermediation and growth, no firm logical basis can be found to explain that fact, be it alternative fiscal technology or leakage of savings or market imperfections that inhibit productive enterprise—although the last item seems more plausible than the others in the conditions prevailing in Africa. The lack of a positive relationship between financial intermediation and growth is perhaps explainable in terms of the low level of financial intermediation in the African countries.

Describing External Debt Situations: A Roll-Over Approach 2

Pierre Dhonte

Short of a fully developed and generally accepted theoretical frame-work for analyzing external debt, it is useful to advance as far as possible the description of debt situations. The substance of the approach in the paper is to sort out the fundamental from the less crucial features of external debt positions. Focusing on the export constraint, the study first ranks 69 countries for each of ten variables as of 1969; this provides a basis for suggesting that the value of a particular variable for a given country is high or low. The paper then proceeds with the problem of identifying a few empirically important variables and the most relevant relationships among them, using principal-components analysis for this purpose; it thus shows that debtor countries are differentiated primarily by the extent to which they are involved in the debt process, and then by the terms on which they have contracted their debt. Furthermore, it appears that the more involved debtors tend to secure relatively better terms and to maintain lower ratios of debt service payments to loan disbursements; also, it appears that some balance is maintained, particularly for large debtors, between the growth of debt and that of exports.

Repeating the analysis for a smaller sample of countries, which experienced debt renegotiations, suggests that renegotiation cases involve heavily indebted countries that sustain a large net transfer on which they may have become dependent. Typically their debt service obligations are large and rising. They maintain, however, a low ratio of debt service payments to loan disbursements, but this is the consequence of increasingly larger external borrowing rather than of a cautious policy with respect to terms. Accordingly, these countries do not appear to respect the balance suggested by the basic sample between the extent of involvement in debt and the terms on which debt is contracted. This would tend to confirm that maintaining such a balance is a condition for successful debt management.

Tax Ratios and Tax Effort in Developing Countries, 1969–711

Raja J. Chelliah, Hessel J. Baas, and Margaret R. Kelly

The major results of a study of tax ratios and tax effort in developing countries, undertaken by the Fund’s Fiscal Affairs Department, were reported in a paper published in Staff Papers, July 1971. That paper attempted to measure the relative tax effort in a sample of developing countries for the period 1966–68. For this purpose, regression analysis was used to quantify the influence of objective conditions and economic factors on the tax ratio so that the residuals could be used with proper adjustments to construct indices of relative tax effort.

This paper updates the earlier study using data for the period 1969–71 for 47 out of the 50 countries that were included in the previous study.

The most interesting general conclusion of this study is that the estimated coefficients of the explanatory variables in the alternative equations explaining the tax ratio do not differ greatly from those in the corresponding equations for the earlier period, thereby adding to the degree of confidence in the results of the analysis. Also, in general, the ranking of countries with respect to tax effort in the two periods does not differ markedly.

Although countries with tax ratios above average usually have tax indices that are higher than unity, there are differences in the two rankings: of the 12 countries with tax ratios greater than 19 per cent, only 6 are among the 12 countries with the highest tax effort indices.

In spite of the general increase in tax ratios in developing countries, the average level of taxation in these countries is still considerably less than in the developed countries—15.1 per cent (excluding social security contributions) in developing countries, compared with 26.2 per cent for 16 developed countries in Europe and North America. The differences between developing and developed countries are greater if total taxes are defined to include social security contributions.

As would be expected, the composition of taxes in the period 1969–71 is not very different from that for 1966–68, with taxes on international trade constituting the largest share of total taxes, followed closely by taxes on production and internal transactions and then by income taxes.

The difference in overall tax ratios between sample countries in the upper and the lower half of the income scale arises primarily from differences in the proportion of gross national product that the two groups raise through income taxation. (Of course, mineral production has a favorable impact on income taxes and, hence, on overall tax ratios.)

On a regional basis, average tax ratios range from 17.9 per cent for countries in the Middle East and North Africa to 12.9 per cent for those in Asia and the Far East. The former group of countries has higher than average income taxes (owing mainly to mineral production) and taxes on production, while the latter countries have the lowest ratio of income taxes. The percentage variation between countries is least for import taxes.

The Fund Agreement in the Courts—XI1

Joseph Gold

Three cases are discussed that raise or suggest some of the problems that the decline of the par value system has created or may create in the drafting or interpretation of agreements. Both the Federal Maritime Commission of the United States and a court in New York have decided that the Smithsonian agreement did not produce a “devaluation” of the U. S. dollar, within the meaning of the agreement involved in the proceedings, until the par value of the dollar was changed on May 8, 1972. The decision is troublesome in view of the immediate effect of the Smithsonian agreement on the exchange markets.

A case decided by the European Court of Justice illustrates the effect of a system of par values and narrow margins on calculations involving the conversion of currencies in connection with the common agricultural policy of the European Economic Community. The disappearance of that system has created numerous problems of the valuation of currencies under the Articles of Agreement of the Fund and in other contexts.

The Supreme Court of the Netherlands has decided a case in which the issue was the value in terms of currency of a franc of fixed gold content under one of the numerous international conventions employing such a unit. The issue arose because the market price of gold had deviated from the official price of gold after the establishment of the two-tier system in March 1968. The difficulties of determining gold value have become even more intense since that date. It may be that the Fund’s valuation of the special drawing right in terms of currency offers the possibility of a solution.


Le rôle de la politique des revenus dans les pays industriels depuis la Seconde Guerre mondiale1

Anne Romanis Braun

On entend par «politique des revenus» un ensemble de mesures spécifiques visant à modérer le rythme de la hausse des prix et de l’expansion des salaires en restreignant les pressions que peuvent exercer sur le marché les entreprises, les travailleurs et les groupements professionnels2. Ces mesures sont décrites à la section I.

Outre l’attention dont elle est l’objet depuis quelques années, la politique des revenus avait déjà soulevé un vif intérêt tant dans l’immédiat après-guerre qu’au début des années 1960. Mais comme les conditions prévalant dans chaque cas étaient différentes, les objectifs, l’approche générale et les mesures specifiques adoptées furent chaque fois fort dissemblables.

Les politiques des revenus adoptées par plusieurs pays européens au lendemain de la guerre s’inscrivaient dans un contexte de pénuries de produits et de devises. Leurs aspects les plus astreignants se confondaient alors avec les autres types de restrictions portant sur l’affectation de la main-d’oeuvre et le rationnement. Des contrôles économiques directs et des tarifs douaniers très élevés assuraient un cloisonnement relativement étanche de l’économie mondiale qui protégeait les décisions salariales des influences extérieures et permettait aux pays industrialisés de vivre en régime économique quasiment fermé.

Mais au début des années 1960, la politique des revenus revint au premier plan pendant une période de concurrence internationale singulièrement vive. L’accent fut mis sur des mesures volontaires visant à influencer l’opinion et à modérer les revendications salariales en reliant l’évolution des revenus à celle de la productivité moyenne. La modération fut présentée aux salariés comme essentielle au maintien du plein emploi face aux fortes pressions à la stabilité qui s’exerçaient sur les prix. On s’efforça surtout de modérer les augmentations de salaire plutôt que de contenir directement les prix, car les leçons de l’expérience récente semblaient indiquer qu’il était possible de stabiliser les prix en limitant la hausse du cout de la main-d’oeuvre par unité produite.

Plusieurs pays devaient recourir à des méthodes plus eontraignantes vers la fin des années 1960 et au début des années 1970. L’insistance sur les contrôles des prix qui caractérise les politiques récemment adoptées résulte principalement de deux facteurs: la conviction croissante que les prix se prêtent mieux aux contrôles directs que les salaires et le fait que Ton se soit rendu compte qu’une intervention sélective sur les prix permet d’éviter que ne soient accordées, dans certaines branches, de fortes augmentations de salaire qui risquent de déclencher une expansion excessive des salaires en général. Au fur et à mesure qu’on se rendait mieux compte du rôle crucial joué par la stabilisation des revenus relatifs, le principe d’une coordination de l’évolution des traitements et des salaires se trouvait renforcé.

II n’est pas étonnant que la politique des revenus ait donné ces dernières années des résultats moins tangibles que dans l’immédiat après-guerre. En effet, vers la fin des années 1960 et au début des années 1970, les revendications salariales se fondaient sur l’anticipation de hauts niveaux d’emploi, tandis que l’ouverture sur le monde des pays industriels et le maintien de taux de change fixes étaient autant de sources de difficulté pour la mise en oeuvre d’une politique des revenus.

On se rend aujourd’hui mieux compte, face aux taux éléves deflation et de chômage que nous connaissons, de la menace que constitue l’inflation pour les institutions tant politiques qu’économiques. Même si les résultats récents ne paraissent pas particulièrement convaincants, les circonstances sont aujourd’hui plus propices au succès de ce type de politique. L’expérience nous indique que la politique des revenus est plus efficace pour contenir les prix et les salaires lorsque le plein emploi n’est pas atteint.

Effets sur la balance des paiements des Etats-Unis des contrôles américains sur les sorties de capitaux : etude exploratrice1

John Hewson et Eisuke Sakakibara

Pendant les années 1960, les autorités américaines ont adopté plusieurs mesures de contrôle destinées à endiguer les sorties de capitaux et done à améliorer la balance des paiements des Etats-Unis. II s’agit essentiellement de la taxe de péréquation des taux d’intérêt (Interest Equalization Tax — IET), du programme de restrictions volontaires imposées au crédit accordé à l’étranger (Voluntary Foreign Credit Restraint — VFCR) et du programme, à l’origine f acultatif mais rendu plus tard obligatoire, restreignant les investissements directs à l’étranger. Les autorités américaines se sont cependant abstenues de toute action visant à limiter les mouvements de capitaux étrangers.

En nous efforçant de quantifier l’effet qu’a eu cet ensemble de mesures, nous sommes partis du principe que l’efficacité des mesures de contrôle des capitaux devrait être évaluée d’après leur effet sur la balance des paiements totale, plutôt que d’après leurs conséquences directes sur les mouvements particuliers des capitaux auxquels elles étaient appliquées. Toutefois, comme une évaluation de l’effet de ces mesures sur l’ensemble de la balance des paiements déborderait largement le cadre d’un seul article, la présente étude a porté essentiellement sur l’effet des mesures de contrôle appliquées au compte en capital, laissant à plus tard une investigation de leurs conséquences éventuelles sur le compte courant.

La conclusion essentielle de notre analyse est que si les mesures américaines semblent avoir eu un effet positif sur les transactions en capitaux qu’elles étaient censées influences il y a eu en revanche des effets négatifs suffisamment importants pour que les mesures de contrôle n’améliorent pas la balance des paiements globale des Etats-Unis.

L’adoption de la taxe de péréquation (IET) en septembre 1964 semble avoir provoqué une augmentation sensible des sorties de capitaux pendant les deux trimestres suivants. Bien qu’une fraction de ces sorties puisse être attribuée aux efforts faits pour échapper à la taxe (par exemple, en empruntant à des banques américaines, opération que la taxe de péréquation ne frappait pas à l’origine), ces transferts s’effectuèrent probablement aussi parce que l’on prévoyait pour 1965 l’adoption d’un ensemble de mesures beaucoup plus vaste. Quant aux mesures prises en 1965, il semble que, par suite surtout de programme de restrictions volontaires (VFCR), l’effet favorable sur la totalité (soit le secteur bancaire et non bancaire) des créances à court terme a été annulé par une réduction d’ampleur égale des engagements liquides privés contractés auprès de l’étranger (et peut-être aussi par une réduction d’autres engagements à court terme). Ces effets négatifs sont le résultat de la transformation des engagements qui a accompagné le déplacement des activités en matière de prêts vers l’Europe et le marché de l’euro-dollar, à la suite de l’application des mesures de contrôle américaines. En outre, d’après l’équation des mouvements globaux de capitaux, il y a lieu de penser que les transferts en capitaux à long terme ont aussi contribué à limiter les effets de la loi de 1965. De manière analogue, l’effet des mesures prises en 1968 a été complètement annulé : bien que le programme de restrictions volontaires (VFCR) ait affecté directement l’équation des créances, les résultats ont été de nouveau annulés par une diminution des engagements liquides contractés auprès du secteur privé étranger. Si les mesures de 1968 ont certainement eu un effet favorable sur les investissements directs, le résultat net des mesures prises en 1968 sur les capitaux globaux semble avoir été négligeable.

Etude sur l’incidence de la politique budgétaire dans les pays en voie de développement : examen analytique et critique1

Luc De Wulf

La plupart des dépenses publiques sont financées par l’impôt. Outre qu’ils fournissent des ressources, les impôts constituent souvent un des principaux instruments que le gouvernement utilise pour influencer la repartition du revenu. Les effets des dépenses publiques sur la répartition du revenu ont éveillé, ces dernières années, beaucoup d’intérêt. Pour cette raison, on a vu se multiplier les études d’incidence budgétaire qui estiment pour un pays donné, è une certaine époque, quels sont ceux qui profitent des dépenses et quels sont ceux qui portent la charge des impôts.

La présente analyse indique que ces études se fondent sur des données fort disparates et suivent des méthodologies divergentes. Comme les résultats dépendent fortement de la méthodologie adoptée, il faut s’abstenir de comparer les résultats de ces diverses études ou ne le faire qu’avec beaucoup de circonspeetion. Cette prudence s’impose, non seulement parce que les données elles-mêmes présentent des difficultés et parce que ces études ne sont pas toutes basées sur les mêmes hypothèses relatives à l’incidence des impôts et des dépenses ou sur le même concept de revenu, ce qui entraîne des variations, mais aussi parce que l’ensemble des études sur l’incidence budgétaire pose certains problèmes fondamentaux.

Ces études comparent inévitablement deux répartitions du revenu : celle que l’on observe et une autre hypothétique. Au fond, cette comparaison n’a pas de sens, parce que la répartition effective du revenu est déterminée dans une large mesure par le système existant d’impôts et de dépenses, tandis que la répartition hypothétique, celle qui prévaudrait si le budget était, soit inexistant, soit tout autre, est absurde ou inconnue. Tant que l’on n’aura pas construit des modèles d’équilibre général permettant aux chercheurs d’identifier l’effet total qu’exercerait sur la répartition du revenu une modification profonde du budget, les études d’incidence partielle fournissent une indication beaucoup plus sûre que les études sur l’incidence du système dans son ensemble.

Malgré tous les défauts tant conceptuels qu’empiriques qui entachent les études d’incidence budgétaire, il est intéressant d’examiner les résultats obtenus dans les différentes études effectuées au sujet des pays en développement. Sur les 44 études d’incidence fiscale retenues pour la présente enquête (sans compter les 22 études consacrées à l’lnde), 32 seulement sont conçues de telle façon que l’on peut en dégager, fût-ce de façon générate, une certaine espèce de graduation des taux et 22 d’entre elles suggèrent une certaine progressivité dans le bareme fiscal effectif. C’est là une opinion «favorable» qui contraste avec l’opinion communément tenue que les systèmes fiscaux qui recourent dans xme large mesure aux impôts indirects sont régressifs.

Etant donné le caractère dualiste de la plupart des économies en développement et le fait que les habitudes de consommation du secteur de subsistance ne comprennent guère de produits grevés d’impôts indirects, on devrait s’attendre, au contraire, à ce que les impôts indirects constituent un élément progressif du système fiscal. C’est là une conclusion à laquelle arrivent la plupart des études, lesquelles ont également noté fréquemment que la progressivité observée n’atteignait pas ceux qui se trouvent au sommet de l’échelle des revenus. Les impôts sur le revenu des particuliers généralement considérés comme le moyen le plus efficace d’imposer les riches, ont relativement peu d’importance dans la plupart des pays en voie de développement. Le fait que les impôts indirects sont souvent mieux administrés que les impôts directs, qu’il existe souvent une différentiation des taux pour les diverses marchandises et que les sous-groupes de la population payant les impôts ont des habitudes de eonsommation extrêmement divergentes confère aux impôts indirects une incidence progressive dans beaucoup de pays. Des généralisations basées sur l’observation des impôts dans les pays développés, où l’on constate que les impôts directs sont progressifs (jusqu’à un certain niveau) et que les impôts indirects sont ou proportionnels ou régressifs, ne sont done pas valables pour l’analyse de la plupart des pays en développement où c’est en général l’inverse qui se produit.

On obtient la charge fiseale nette ou l’incidence totale du budget sur la répartition du revenu en faisant le solde des estimations pour l’incidence des impôts et des dépenses pour chaque classe de la population. La plupart de ces études arrivent à la conclusion que les plus fortunés apportent une contribution nette aux opérations de l’Etat, tandis que tous les autres en sont des bénéficiaires nets. Cette conclusion résulte du fait que, dans la plupart des cas, on n’a pas calculé comment était répartie la charge du financement par déficit ou des emprunts, que certaines dépenses étaient financées par Faide étrangère et que l’on a supposé que certains impôts étaient répercutés sur les pays étrangers.

S’il y a une conclusion que l’on peut tirer de ces études, c’est sans doute que les gouvernements suffisamment énergiques pour redistribuer les revenus par une politique budgétaire peuvent probablement le faire de la façon la plus efficace en renforçant judicieusement les impôts progressifs et en augmentant les dépenses dont profitent les families aux revenus les plus modestes. La contribution la plus utile que pourrait apporter la recherche ultérieure sur l’incidence budgétaire serait de dégager avec précision les instruments de politique qui sont susceptibles, dans un certain complexe de circonstances, d’influencer la répartition dans un sens souhaité. Plutôt que de prétendre estimer l’effet distributif de l’ensemble du budget ou de tous les impôts ou de toutes les dépenses, il semble plus justifié du point de vue de la théorie et plus utile d’un point de vue politique de s’essayer à des estimations moins globales.

Intermédiation financière, mobilisation de l’épargne et développement de l’entreprise : l’expérience africaine 1

Rattan J. Bhatia et Deena R. Khatkhate

La présente étude s’efforce de déterminer dans quelle mesure l’expansion de l’intermédiation financière a été liée à la croissance économique dans certains pays d’Afrique et si les intermédiaries financiers ont contribué à y favoriser le développement. Sur le plan théorique, le point de vue des auteurs est que la politique financière globale peut, dans le meilleur des cas, faciliter la mobilisation des ressources par le biais de l’intermédiation financière, mais qu’elle risque de se révéler inapte à garantir la meilleure utilisation des ressources mobilisées. II s’agit d’ailleurs moins de critiquer la politique financière conçue pour favoriser le développement de l’intermédiation financière elle-même que de souligner la nécessité d’étayer cette politique par un train de mesures susceptibles de minimiser à la fois les risques que comportent les prets aux nouveaux entrepreneurs et le coût de leur gestion. Une telle stratégie implique que les fonds soient répartis suivant des critères plus sélectifs que ceux dont s’inspirent généralement les institutions financières existantes. Sur le plan empirique l’expérience de certains pays africains permet de conclure que si dans ces pays on ne décèle pas de relation positive entre l’intermédiation financière et la croissance économique, on ne peut pas trouver non plus d’explication sûre et logique à cette absence apparente de relation : ni dans les differentes politiques fiscales suivies par les pays, ni dans les fuites de fonds par voie d’épargne, ni dans les imperfections du marché qui entravent l’expansion de Tentreprise productive — bien que cette dernière explication semble plus plausible que les autres dans le contexte africain. Tout compte fait, il se peut que l’absence de relation positive entre l’intermédiation financière et la croissance économique s’explique par le degré limité d’intermédiation financière dans les pays d’Afrique.

La description de l’endettement extérieur : l’approche du refinancement1

Pierre Dhonte

En l’absence d’un modèle théorique suiffisamment élaboré et généralement accepté qui puisse servir à l’analyse de la dette extérieure, il est utile de pousser aussi loin que possible la description de différentes situations en matière de dette. A cet effet, la présente étude vise à établir une distinction entre les aspects fondamentaux de la dette extérieure de différents pays et ceux qui le sont moins. Centrée sur la contrainte des exportations et se fondant sur la valeur de dix variables en 1969, l’étude opère d’abord le classement de 69 pays pour chacune de ces variables, ce qui permet de déterminer approximativement si la valeur d’une variable donnée pour un pays donné est forte ou faible. Utilisant la méthode de l’analyse en composantes principales, l’auteur aborde ensuite le problème d’identifier les variables empiriquement importantes et les principales relations qui existent entre elles; les résultats indiquent que les pays débiteurs se différencient en premier lieu par le degré de leur endettement, ensuite par les conditions auxquelles ils ont contracté leur dette. En outre, il apparaît que les débiteurs les plus engagés ont tendance à obtenir des conditions relativement plus favorables et à maintenir un rapport plus faible entre les paiements au titre du service de la dette et les versements reçus au titre des emprunts; de plus, il semble que l’on obtienne un certain équilibre surtout chez les grands débiteurs, entre la croissance de la dette et celle des exportations.

En refaisant l’analyse pour un plus petit échantillon de pays qui ont eu à renégocier leur dette, on constate, semble-t-il, que les pays qui se trouvent dans ce cas sont des pays fortement endettés qui maintiennent un solde net considérable dont ils ont pu devenir tributaires. D’une manière générale, leurs obligations au titre du service de la dette sont importantes et augmentent encore. Toutefois, le rapport entre le service de la dette et les versements regus au titre des emprunts est d’une manière générale faible, mais cette situation résulte d’emprunts à l’extérieur de plus en plus considérables plutôt que d’une politique prudente en ce qui concerne les conditions obtenues. En conséquence, ces pays ne semblent pas respecter l’équilibre indiqué par le premier échantillon entre le degré d’endettement et les conditions auxquelles la dette a été contractée. Ceci tendrait à confirmer que le maintien d’un tel équilibre est une condition nécessaire à une gestion efficace de la dette.

Pression fiscale et effort fiscal dans les pays en développement, 1969–711

Raja J. Chelliah, Hessel J. Baas et Margaret R. Kelly

Les résultats principaux d’une étude du rapport des impôts au PNB et de l’effort fiscal dans les pays en développement entreprise par le Département des finances publiques du Fonds ont paru dans un article publié dans Staff Papers, en juillet 1971. Dans cet article, on s’efforçait de mesurer l’effort fiscal relatif dans un échantillon de pays en développement pendant la période 1966–68. A cet effet, l’analyse de régression était utilisée pour quantifier l’influence des conditions objectives et des facteurs économiques sur le rapport des impôts au PNB afin que les données résiduelles puissent, compte, tenu d’ajustements adéquats, servir à élaborer des indices de l’effort fiscal relatif.

Le présent article met à jour l’étude antérieure en utilisant les chiffres de la période 1969–71 pour 47 des 50 pays qui figuraient dans l’étude antérieure.

La conclusion générale la plus intéressante qui se dégage de cette etude est la suivante : les coefficients estimés des variables explicatives dans les différentes équations qui expliquent la pression fiscale ne diffèrent pas sensiblement de ceux des équations correspondantes pour la période antérieure, ce qui donne aux résultats de l’analyse un degré de confiance plus élevé. II est également intéressant de relever qu’en général, le classement du pays en ce qui concerne l’effort fiscal au cours de ces deux périodes ne diffàre pas sensiblement.

Bien qu’en général dans les pays où le rapport entre les impôts et le PNB est plus élevé que la moyenne, l’indice de l’effort fiscal soit supérieur à l’unité, on constate des différences considérables entre les deux classements : c’est ainsi que sur les 12 pays dont le rapport entre les impôts et le PNB est supérieur à 19 pour 100, 6 seulement figurent parmi les 12 pays dans lesquels l’indice d’effort fiscal est le plus élevé.

Malgré l’élévation générale du rapport impôts/PNB pour les pays en développement, le niveau moyen de l’imposition dans ces pays est encore considérablement inférieur à celui qui existe dans les pays industrialisés — 15,1 pour 100 (à l’exclusion des cotisations à la sécurité sociale) dans les pays en développement, comparé à 26,2 pour 100 pour 16 pays industrialisés d’Europe et d’Amérique du Nord. Les différences entre les pays industrialisés et les pays moins développés sont encore plus frappantes si l’on comprend les cotisations à la sécurité sociale dans l’ensemble des impôts.

Comme on peut s’y attendre, la composition des impôts de la période 1969–71 ne diffàre pas sensiblement de celle de la période 1966–68, les taxes sur le commerce international constituant la partie la plus importante de l’ensemble des impôts, suivies de près par les taxes à la production et sur des transactions intérieures et les impôts sur le revenu.

La différence du rapport global entre les impôts et le PNB entre les pays de l’échantillon occupant la partie supérieure et la partie inférieure de l’échelles des revenus provient, en premier lieu, des différences de la proportion du PNB que ces deux groupes de pays reçoivent de l’imposition des revenus. (Naturellement, la production minière exerce une influence favorable sui les impôts sur le revenu et, par conséquent, sur les rapports globaux entre les impôts et le PNB.)

Sur une base régionale, les rapports moyens entre les impôts et le PNB vont de 17,9 pour 100 dans les pays du Moyen-Orient et de l’Afrique du Nord à 12,9 pour 100 dans ceux d’Asie et d’Extrême-Orient. Le premier groupe de pays a des impôts sur le revenu plus élevés que la moyenne (en raison principalement de la production minière), de même que des taxes è la production plus élevées que la moyenne, alors que le dernier groupe de pays a le rapport le plus faible d’impôts sur le revenu. Le pourcentage de variation entre ces pays est le plus faible dans le cas des taxes à l’importation.

Les Statuts du Fonds devant les tribunaux — XI1

Joseph Gold

L’article examine trois affaires qui soulèvent, directement ou par implication, certains problèmes résultant ou pouvant résulter du déclin du système des parités lors de la rédaction ou de l’interprétation de différents accords. La Federal Maritime Commission des Etats-Unis et un tribunal de New York ont tous deux décidé que, dans le contexte de l’accord en cause, l’Accord de Washington n’avait pas eu pour conséquence une “dévaluation” du dollar E.U., avant que la parité n’en ait été changée le 8 mai 1972. Cette décision est assez gênante à cause de l’effet immédiat que l’Accord de Washington a eu sur le marché des changes.

Un jugement rendu par la Cour Européenne de Justice illustre l’effet que peut avoir un système de parités et de marges réduites sur les calculs comportant des conversions de monnaies dans le cadre de la politique agricole commune de la Communauté Economique Européenne. La disparition de ce système a créé de nombreuses difficultés touchant l’évaluation des monnaies, aux fins des Statuts du Fonds ainsi qu’à d’autres textes.

La Cour Suprême des Pays-Bas a rendu un jugement concernant une affaire qui mettait en cause la valeur monétaire d’un franc à teneur en or fixe, aux fins d’une des nombreuses conventions internationales se servant de cette unité. Le problème avait été posé parce que le prix de l’or sur le marché libre s’était écarté du prix officiel après la création d’un double marché de l’or en mars 1968. Depuis lors, les difficultés créées par la détermination de la valeur or n’ont fait que s’accroître. II se peut que l’évaluation en monnaie du droit tirage spécial par le Fonds constitue une solution à ce problème.


La función de la política de ingresos en los países industriales desde la Segunda Guerra Mundial1

Anne Romanis Braun

La expresión «política de ingresos» se refiere a las medidas específicas destinadas a moderar la tasa de aumento de precios y salarios conteniendo la explotación del poder del mercado por las empresas, el trabajo y los grupos profesionales. Muchas de estas medidas se describen en la Sección I.

Desde la Segunda Guerra Mundial ha habido tres períodos de gran interés por la política de ingresos: los años inmediatamente posteriores a la guerra, los primeros del decenio 1960 y los anos recientes. Los objetivos, el enfoque general y las medidas específicas adoptadas durante estos períodos han diferido much debido a la diversidad de las condiciones imperantes.

Después de la guerra, varios países europeos implantaron políticas de ingresos en un marco de escasez de bienes y de divisas. Las políticas con elementos fuertemente coactivos se asociaron entonces con otras restricciones, como el dirigismo laboral y el racionamiento. Como el mercado internacional estaba fracturado por controles directos y altos aranceles, las decisiones salariales quedaron muy aisladas de las influencias externas, y los paises industriales se asemejaron a economías cerradas.

La segunda etapa de interés por la política de ingresos de los primeros años del decenio 1960 coincidió con una época de competencia excepcionalmente intensa en el mercado internacional. Los esfuerzos se concentraron en medidas voluntarias dirigidas a influir en el clima de opinión y en las actitudes en materia de negociación de salarios, especialmente formulando directrices basadas en la productividad. Las restricciones de salarios pudieron presentarse al obrero como necesarias para mantener pleno empleo en un mundo con fuertes presiones por la estabilidad de precios. Se trató fundamentalmente de moderar el alza de los salarios en vez de restringir la subida de los precios directamente, porque la experiencia reciente sugería que los precios podían estabilizarse si se evitaba el aumento del costo unitario de la mano de obra.

A fines del decenio de 1960 y principios del de 1970, varios países aplicaron medidas más enérgicas. La mayor importancia que atribuyeron a los controles de precios las recientes políticas de ingresos provino de la idea que fue ganando terreno, de que es más factible el control directo de precios que de salarios, y del reconocimiento de la necesidad de establecer restricciones específicas de precios para impedir los grandes aumentos de salarios en algunas industrias, que pudieran iniciar un alza excesivamente grande de los salarios en general. Al hacerse más evidente la función clave de los esfuerzos por mantener niveles relativos de paga, se afirmó la justificatión de la coordinatión entre los aumentos de sueldos y salarios.

Como era de prever, los resultados conseguidos con la política de ingresos fueron más conspicuos en el período de principios de posguerra que en estos últimos años. La adaptatión de las prácticas de negotiatión salarial a la expectativa de altos niveles de empleo y el carácter «abierto» de los países industriales bajo un sistema de tipos de cambio fijos dificultaron más la implantación de políticas de ingresos a fines del decenio de 1960 y principios del de 1970.

Con las altas tasas actuales de inflación y desempleo, se reconoce más y más la amenaza que representa la inflación para las instituciones politicas y económicas. Aunque los resultados recientes de la política de ingresos no han sido notables, las circunstancias actuales pueden ser mas propicias para llegar a buen término. La experiencia indica que la política de ingresos puede ser la más eficaz para restringir los aumentos de salarios y precios sin pleno empleo.

Estudio exploratorio del impacto en la balanza de pagos de Estados Unidos de ciertas medidas de control de salida de capitales1

John Hewson y Eisuke Sakakibara

Durante el decenio de 1960–69 las autoridades de Estados Unidos aprobaron varias medidas de control de capitales en un intento de poner coto a las salidas de capital con la esperanza de influir favorablemente en la balanza de pagos. Aludimos en concrete el Impuesto de Igualación de Intereses, al Programa de Restricción Voluntaria de Créditos Externos así como al programa, inicialmente voluntario pero luego obligatorio, de inversiones directas en el extranjero. Las autoridades estadounidenses se abstuvieron, no obstante, de todo intento de controlar las corrientes de capital de propiedad extranjera.

Para cuantificar el efecto de estas medidas hemos partido de la premisa mayor de que su eficacia no se debe evaluar midiendo simplemente el efecto directo que hayan podido tener en las corrientes de capital para que se concibieron, sino más bien en base a su impacto en la balanza de pagos en su conjunto. Dado que una evaluación de ese impacto en la totalidad de la balanza de pagos es tarea muy superior a las posibilidades de un artículo, nos concentramos en el presente trabajo en el efecto de esas medidas en la cuenta de capital, dejando para mejor ocasión el estudio del posible impacto en cuenta corriente.

La conclusión fundamental de nuestro análisis es que, si bien esas medidas de control de EE.UU. parecen haber surtido efectos significativos en las transacciones de capital en que se trataba de intervenir, las reacciones compensatorias que se produjeron ante esos programas resultaron lo suficientemente importantes como para que dichas medidas no lograran mejorar el panorama total de la balanza de pagos de EE.UU.

Cuando el Congreso aprobó el Impuesto de Igualación de Intereses en septiembre de 1964 pareció incrementarse significativamente la salida de capitales durante el semestre siguiente y aunque parte de ese fenómeno puede achacarse a intentos de evasión del impuesto en cuestión (por ejemplo, mediante préstamos de bancos de EE.UU., no gravados en principio por dicho tributo), es probable que se debieran también al temor de que en 1965 se promulgaran medidas de control de capital mucho más severas. El impacto favorable en los créditos a corto plazo (bancarios y no bancarios) del conjunto de medidas aprobadas en 1965 (sobre todo a través del Programa de Restricción Voluntaria de Créditos Externos), se vió contrarrestado por una reducción, de comparable magnitud, en los pasivos líquidos privados frente a extranjeros (y tal vez una reducción en otros pasivos a corto plazo). Este efecto adverso se puede achacar al desplazamiento de pasivos que acompañó al movimiento de la actividad crediticia hacia Europa y el mercado del eurodólar después de la entrada en vigor de los controles en EE.UU. Además, en base a la ecuación del agregado de capital había razones de suponer que se produjesen otras reacciones compensatorias adicionales frente al conjunto de medidas de 1965 en forma de transacciones de capital a largo plazo. De manera similar se vio completamente compensado el impacto de las medidas de 1968. El impacto directo en la ecuación de créditos que tuvo el programa de Restricción Voluntaria de Créditos Externos, que era más riguroso, se vio a su vez compensado por una reductión en los pasivos líquidos frente a extranjeros privados. El conjunto de medidas de 1968 tuvo indudablemente un efecto favorable en las inversiones directas lo que no quita para que el impacto neto sobre el agregado de capital haya sido, a lo que parece ser, infinitesimal.

Estudios de incidencia fiscal en los países en desarrollo: Investigatión y crítica1

Luc De Wulf

La mayor parte de los gastos públicos se financia con impuestos, los cuales no sólo producen ingresos sino que a menudo constituyen uno de los principales instrumentos de que todo gobierno dispone para ejercer una influencia en la distributión de ingresos. Los efectos de los gastos públicos en la redistributión de los ingresos han recibido mucha atentión en los últimos años por lo que crece constantemente el número de estudios de la incidencia fiscal que estiman, para un país determinado en un momenta determinado, a quién aprovechan los gastos y quién tiene que soportar la carga impositiva.

Del examen a que se someten dichos estudios en el trabajo que aquí se resume se desprende que se basan en datos bastante disparejos y utilizan diversas metodologías. Como los resultados dependen mucho de la metodología, hay que abstenerse de toda comparatión de los resultados de diferentes estudios, o bien realizarla con suma cautela. Esta cautela se impone no sólo por las dificultades con los datos y por las variaciones que causa el uso de diferentes hipótesis de incidencia tributaria y de gastos o de diferentes conceptos de ingresos sino también a causa de algunos problemas más fundamentales que plantean los estudios de incidencia fiscal en su conjunto.

En esos estudios se procede inevitablemente a una comparación de la distribución real de los ingresos con una distribución hipotética, comparación sin sentido en realidad porque la distribución real de ingresos está determinada en gran parte por el sistema real de tributación y gastos, mientras que la hipotética, o sea la que existiría en una situación de presupuesto cero o con un presupuesto totalmente distinto, es o bien absurda o bien desconocida. No queda claro, por ende, qué son en realidad los dos términos de esa comparación en ese enfoque. Mientras no se disponga de modelos de equilibrio general que permitan a los investigadores entender por completo los efectos de sustituciones masivas en el presupuesto sobre la distribución de ingresos, los estudios de incidencia, partial serán mas fidedignos que los de incidencia del sistema.

Pese a todos los defectos conceptuales y empíricos de que adolecen los estudios de incidencia fiscal, es interesante examinar los resultados de los estudios realizados sobre países en desarrollo. De los 44 estudios de incidencia tributaria que se mencionan en el trabajo que aquí se resume (excluyendo los 22 estudios sobre India), sólo en 32 se puede tener una impresión general acerca de la graduatión de la tasa impositiva y 22 de ellos sugieren una cierta progresividad en la estructura de las tasas impositivas efectivas. Esta perspectiva «favorable» contrasta con la sospecha bastante corriente de que los sistemas de rentas fiscales que se basan sobre todo en impuestos indirectos son regresivos.

La naturaleza dualista de la mayoría de las economías en desarrollo y el hecho de que las estructuras de consumo de los que viven en el sector de subsistencia apenas incluyan productos gravados por impuestos indirectos debería inducir a pensar, por el contrario, que los impuestos indirectos pueden constituir un elemento progresivo en el sistema tributario. La mayoría de los estudios llegan a esta conclusión si bien indican con frecuencia que la progresividad observada no alcanza a las clases de ingresos más altos. El impuesto a los ingresos personales, considerado generalmente como el medio más eficaz de gravar a los ricos, carece relativamente de importancia en la mayoría de los países en desarrollo. La administración a menudo más eficaz de los impuestos indirectos, la frecuente existencia de tasas impositivas diferentes para diversos artículos así como las estructuras de consumo muy desiguales en los diversos subgrupos de contribuyentes han producido como resultado una estructura progresiva de incidencia de los impuestos indirectos en muchos países. Las generalizaciones sobre impuestos en los países desarrollados, en los que resulta que los impuestos directos son progresivos (hasta un cierto nivel) y los indirectos son proporcionales o regresivos, no son relevantes para el análisis de la mayoría de los países en desarrollo, en que esos resultados en general se invierten.

La carga fiscal neta o el impacto total del presupuesto sobre la redistribución de ingresos se obtiene Ilegando a estimaciones consolidadas de la incidencia fiscal y de gastos para cada subgroupo de la población. La mayoría de estos estudios llegan a la conclusión de que los muy ricos son contribuyentes netos de las operaciones gubernamentales mientras que todos los demás son beneficiarios netos. Esto se debe a que no se asigna a nadie la mayor parte de la carga del financiamiento del déficit, a que algunos gastos se financian con ayuda extranjera y a que se supone que la incidencia de algunos impuestos se traslada fuera del país.

Suponiendo que se pudiera extraer alguna que otra conclusión de estos estudios, ella sería la de que los gdbiernos con voluntad política de redistribuir ingresos mediante el instrumento presupuestario es probable que lo logren con el máximo de eficacia reforzando cautelosamente los impuestos progresivos y aumentado los gastos que redunden en beneficio de las familias con ingresos bajos. La mejor contribución que puede hacer toda futura investigación de la incidencia fiscal consiste en indicar exactamente qué instrumentos de política pueden empujar, en determinadas circunstancias, a la distribución en la direción deseada. Teóricamente es más plausible, y políticamente más relevante, abandonar el tipo de estudios que pretenden estimar el impacto redistributivo del presupuesto en su conjunto, o de todos los impuestos, o de todos los gastos, y dedicarse más bien a estimaciones más desagregadas.

Intermediación financiera, movilización del ahorro y desarrollo empresarial: La experiencia africana1

Rattan J. Bhatia y Deena R. Khatkhate

En este trabajo se trata de determinar hasta qué punto ha progresado la intermediación financiera con el crecimiento económico de una selección de países africanos y si ha sido decisiva en el fomento del desarrollo. En el piano analítico se alega que si bien las políticas financieras agregativas pueden promover en el mejor de los casos la movilización de recursos a través de la intermediatión financiera, pueden no ser instrumentos adeeuados para garantizar la utilizatión óptima de los recursos movilizados. Con ello no se trata de argüir en contra de la política que aliente la intermediación financiera en sí sino más bien de recalcar que tal política debe complementarse con toda una gama de medidas encaminadas a minimizar tanto el riesgo como el costo de administración de los préstamos otorgados a los nuevos empresarios. Una política como ésta supone el uso de un enfoque más selectivo de asignación de recursos que el que pueden ofrecer por sí solas las instituciones financieras existentes. En el piano empírico, sobre la base de la experíencia de algunos países africanos se deduce que si bien no se discierne en ellos ninguna relación definida entre la intermediación financiera y el crecimiento, no es posible detectar ninguna base lógica firme para explicar este hecho, sean técnicas fiscales alternativas o fugas del ahorro o imperfecciones del mercado las que inhiben la empresa productiva, aunque en las condiciones imperantes en Africa el último elemento enumerado parece más plausible que los demás. La falta de relatión positiva entre la intermediación financiera y el crecimiento tal vez pueda explicarse en función del bajo nivel de intermediación financiera en los países africanos.

La refinanciación y su utilidad para la descriptión de situaciones de deuda externa 1

Pierre Dhonte

A falta de una teoría completa y aceptada que permita analizar la deuda externa, bueno es describir bien las situaciones de deuda. El trabajo que aquí se resume intenta distinguir las características más fundamentals de las que lo son menos en las posiciones de deuda externa. Concentrándose en la presión sobre las exportaciones, el autor del trabajo ordena a 69 paises en función de diez variables o indicadores para 1969, lo que a su vez permite decir si el valor de esas variables o indicadores es “alto” o “bajo” en un pais determinado. Se pasa luego a la identificación de unas cuantas variables o indicadores, empíricamente importantes, y de las relaciones más relevantes entre ellas, utilizando a este fin el análisis de componentes principales, lo que revela que los países deudores se diferencian entre sí sobre todo por la medida en que están sumergidos en el proceso de la deuda y por los términos y condiciones en que la han contraído. Resulta, además, que los países más endeudados tienden, por un lado, a eonseguir términos y condiciones relativamente mejores y, por otro, a mantener una menor proporción entre pagos por servicio de la deuda y giros contra préstamos. Resulta, también, que se mantiene un equilibrio, en particular en los países más endeudados, entre el crecimiento de la deuda y el de las exportaciones.

Al repetirse este análisis con una muestra menor de países que tuvieron que renegociar su deuda, se ve que esa renegotiación la efectúan países gravemente endeudados con una gran transf erencia neta que se suele convertir en dolencia crónica. Lo típico de esa situatión es que las obligations del servicio de la deuda de esos países no sólo son importantes sino que aumentan constantemente. No obstante, la proporción entre pagos por servicio de la deuda y giros contra préstamos es baja en esos países, aunque la verdad es que esto se debe no a una política cautelosa sobre terminos y condiciones sino a que recurren más y más a préstamos externos. Por ende, estos países no parecen respetar el equilibrio sugerido por el muestreo básico entre la medida de inmersión en la deuda y los términos y condiciones en que se contrajo y esto mismo parece confirmar que dicho equilibrio es una conditión de toda gestión de la deuda que pretenda tener éxito.

Coeficientes y esfuerzo tributaries en los países en desarrollo, 1969–711

Raja J. Chelliah, Hessel J. Baas y Margaret R. Kelly

Los principales resultados de un estudio de los coeficientes y el esfuerzo tributarios en los países en desarrollo, realizado por el Departamento de Finanzas Públicas del Fondo, se describieron en un artículo publicado en Staff Papers, de julio de 1971. En dicho artículo se trató de medir el esfuerzo tributario relativo en una muestra de países en desarrollo en el período 1966–68. A ese fin, se utilizó el análisis de regresión para cuantificar la influencia de condiciones objetivas y factores económicos en el coeficiente tributario, de forma que los residuos pudieran utilizarse, con los debidos ajustes, para calcular índices del esfuerzo tributario relativo.

El presente trabajo actualiza el estudio anterior, utilizando datos del período 1969–71 para 47 países de 50 que se ineluyeron en el estudio anterior.

La conclusión general más interesante del estudio consiste en que los coeficientes estimados de las variables explicativas de las ecuaciones alternativas que explican el coeficiente tributario no difieren mucho de los de las correspondientes ecuaciones en el período anterior, lo cual aumenta el grado de confianza en los resultados del análisis. Conviene indicar asimismo que en general el orden de los países con respecto al esfuerzo tributario en ambos períodos no difiere notablemente.

Si bien los países con coeficientes tributarios por encima de la media tienen normalmente índices tributarios mayores que la unidad, las diferencias en el orden con relación a ambos criterios siguen existiendo: de los 12 países con coeficientes tributarios superiores al 19 por ciento, sólo 6 se cuentan entre los 12 países con los índices de esfuerzo tributario más altos.

Pese al aumento general de los coeficientes tributarios en los países en desarrollo, el nivel medio de tributación en estos países sigue siendo bastante menor que en los países desarrollados —15,1 por ciento (excluidas las contribuciones a la seguridad social) en los países en desarrollo, en comparación con 26,2 por ciento en 16 países desarrollados de Europa y América del Norte. Las diferencias entre los países en desarrollo y los desarrollados son mayores si en los impuestos totales se incluyen las contribuciones a la seguridad social.

Como era de prever, la compositión de los impuestos en el período 1969–71 no es muy diferente de la de 1966–68, es decir, que los impuestos sobre el comercio international constituyen la parte mayor de los impuestos totales, seguidos de cerca por los impuestos sobre la producción y las transacciones internas, y luego por los impuestos sobre el ingreso.

La diferencia en los coeficientes tributarios totales entre los países de la mitad superior y los de la mitad inferior de la muestra en términos de ingreso proviene principalmente de las distintas proporciones del producto national bruto que ambos grupos obtienen mediante el impuesto sobre el ingreso. (Naturalmente, la producción minera tiene un impacto favorable en los impuestos sobre el ingreso y, por tanto, en los coeficientes tributarios totales.)

Sobre una base regional, los coeficientes tributarios medios fluctúan entre el 17,9 por ciento en los países del Oriente Medio y Africa del Norte y el 12,9 por ciento en los países de Asia y el Lejano Oriente. El primer grupo de países tiene impuestos sobre el ingreso (debido ante todo a la producción minera) y sobre la producción más altos que el promedio, mientras que el segundo grupo de países tiene la menor proporción de impuestos sobre el ingreso. La variación porcentual entre países es mínima con respecto a los impuestos a la importación.

El Convenio Constitutive del Fondo ante los tribunales—XI1

Joseph Gold

Se examinan tres casos que plantean o se refieren a algunos de los problemas que la decadencia del sistema de paridades ha creado o puede crear en la redacción o interpretación de acuerdos. Tanto la Comisión Marítima Federal de los Estados Unidos como un tribunal de Nueva York han declarado que el acuerdo de Washington no produjo una “devaluación” del dólar de EE.UU., en el sentido del consenso a que se llegó en dicha conferencia, sino hasta que se modificó la paridad del dólar el 8 de mayo de 1972. Esta decisión es inquietante en vista del efecto inmediato del acuerdo de Washington en los mercados cambiarios.

La Corte Europea de Justicia se ha pronunciado sobre un caso que pone de relieve el efecto de un sistema de paridades y márgenes estrechos en los cálculos que suponen la conversión de monedas en relatión con la politica agrícola comiin de la Comunidad Económica Europea. La desaparición de dicho sistema ha creado numerosos problemas de valoración de monedas con arreglo al Convenio Constitutivo del Fondo y en otros contextos.

El Tribunal Supremo de los Países Bajos se ha pronunciado sobre un caso en el que se ponía en tela de juicio el valor en términos de monedas de un franco de contenido de oro fijo en el marco de uno de los numerosos convenios internacionales que utilizan esa unidad. El problema se planteó porque el precio del oro en el mercado se había desviado del oficial al establecerse en marzo de 1968 el sistema de mercado doble. Desde esa fecha se han acrecentado las dificultades en la determinación del valor oro. Es posible que la valoración que el Fondo hace del DEG en términos de monedas ofrezca la posibilidad de una solución.

In statistical matter (except in the résumés and resúmenes) throughout this issue,

Dots (…) indicate that data are not available;

A dash (—) indicates that the figure is zero or less than half the final digit shown, or that the item does not exist;

A single dot (.) indicates decimals;

A comma (,) separates thousands and millions;

“Billion” means a thousand million;

A short dash (–) is used between years or months (e.g., 1955–58 or January–October) to indicate a total of the years or months inclusive of the beginning and ending years or months;

A stroke (/) is used between years (e.g., 1962/63) to indicate a fiscal year or a crop year;

Components of tables may not add to totals shown because of rounding.

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Mr. Gold, the General Counsel and Director of the Legal Department of the Fund, is a graduate of the Universities of London and Harvard. He is the author of The Fund Agreement in the Courts (Washington, 1962), The Stand-By Arrangements of the International Monetary Fund (Washington, 1970), Voting and Decisions in the International Monetary Fund (Washington, 1972), and Membership and Nonmembership in the International Monetary Fund (Washington, 1974), as well as various pamphlets and articles.


Earlier articles were published in Staff Papers: Vol. I (1950–51), pp. 315–33; Vol. II (1951–52), pp. 482–98; Vol. III (1953–54), pp. 290–312; Vol. V (1956–57), pp. 284–301; Vol. VI (1957–58), pp. 461–75; Vol. VIII (1960–61), pp. 287–312; Vol. IX (1962), pp. 264–95; Vol. XI (1964), pp. 457–89; Vol. XIV (1967), pp. 369–402; Vol. XIX (1972), pp. 468–502. The first seven articles, together with another article that appeared in Vol. IV (1954–55), pp. 330–38, were subsequently issued in book form, as The Fund Agreement in the Courts (Washington, 1962).


Federal Maritime Commission, Docket No. 72–5, January 28, 1972.


The U. S. Administration had agreed as part of the Smithsonian agreement to propose to Congress an increase of 8.57 per cent in the price of gold in terms of U. S. dollars, which corresponded to a devaluation of the U. S. dollar by 7.89 per cent.


46 U.S.C.A. §817(b).


Shippers Rate Agreement, Article 23 (printed in Federal Maritime Commission, Docket 72–5, cited in footnote 2), p. 13.


337 F. Supp. 1032, at 1036 (1972).






Pikes and Fischer, 13 SRR 289–99.


Section 5 of the Bretton Woods Agreements Act (59 Stat. 514 (1945)): “Unless Congress by law authorizes such action, neither the President nor any person or agency shall on behalf of the United States … (b) propose or agree to any change in the par value of the United States dollar under Article IV, Section 5, or Article XX, Section 4, of the Articles of Agreement of the Fund, or approve any general change in par values under Article IV, Section 7….”


Cf. the frequent confusion between “par value” and “parity.”


Note, for example, the words “normally” and “generally” in the following passage: “The terms devaluation and revaluation normally are reserved for changes in the par value which make the currency concerned cheaper or more expensive in terms of other currencies. Where similar changes occur in an exchange rate that is not a par value, the terms depreciation and appreciation are generally used. Depreciation or appreciation may involve either discrete or gradual changes in value,” in “Glossary of Exchange Concepts,” IMF Survey, Vol. 1 (August 28, 1972), p. 32.

See also The International Monetary Fund, 1945–1965: Twenty Years of International Monetary Cooperation, ed. by J. Keith Horsefield (Washington, 1969), Vol. II, pp. 111 et seq.; Vol. Ill, pp. 24 and 111; Gottfried Haberler, “U. S. Balance of Payments Policy and the International Monetary System,” in Convertibility, Multilateralism and Freedom: World Economic Policy in the SeventiesEssays in Honour of Reinhard Kamitz, ed. by Wolfgang Schmitz (Vienna, 1972), pp. 187–91; “SDRs: New Look,” The Economist, Vol. 252 (July 6, 1974), p. 96.


Article IV, Section 8(b).


Article I (iii).


IMF Press Release No. 853, August 20, 1971, reproduced in International Financial News Survey (hereinafter referred to as IFNS), Vol. 23 (August 25, 1971), p. 261.


Decision No. 3399-(71/90), August 20, 1971. (This decision is paraphrased in IMF Press Release No. 853, cited in footnote 15.)


IFNS, Vol. 23 (December 22–30, 1971), p. 418; Annual Report of the Secretary of the Treasury on the State of the Finances for the Fiscal Year Ended June 30, 1972 (Washington, 1972), p. 370.


It occurred again with respect to the subsequent change in the par value of the U. S. dollar. The Secretary of the U. S. Treasury announced on February 12, 1973—IMF Press Release No. 957, February 13, 1973, reproduced in IMF Survey, Vol. 2 (February 26, 1973), p. 53—that the President was requesting Congress to authorize the change, which took effect with the concurrence of the Fund on October 18, 1973. Once again the proposed change became effective in the exchange markets immediately after the announcement.


U.S. Congress, House, Committee on Banking and Currency, To Provide Fora Modification in the Par Value of the Dollar, Hearings on H.R. 13120 (92nd Congress, 2nd Session, Washington, March 1–3 and 6, 1972), p. 4.


Article IV, Section 8 (b).


Article IV, Section 4(a).


See Joseph Gold, “The Legal Structure of the Par Value System,” Law and Policy in International Business, Vol. 5 (No. 1, 1973), pp. 194–98.


Selected Decisions of the International Monetary Fund and Selected Documents (Washington, Sixth Issue, 1972; hereinafter referred to as Selected Decisions), p. 12.


Regulation No. 129 adopted by the Council of the European Economic Community. “… whereas it is necessary to fix the exchange rates to be used for transactions within the framework of the common agricultural policy which involve expressing in one currency sums shown in another currency; whereas all Member States and a large number of third countries have declared a parity for their currency to the International Monetary Fund, which has recognised the same; whereas under this body’s rules the exchange rates applying to current transactions and quoted on foreign exchange markets, which, subject to supervision by the monetary authorities of countries the parity of whose currency has been recognised by the Fund, are allowed to fluctuate only within narrow limits about that parity figure; whereas in consequence the use of the exchange rate corresponding to the said parity normally makes it possible to avoid the monetary difficulties which might prevent the common agricultural policy being carried out …” Alan Campbell, Common Market Law (London, 1969), Vol. II, p. 502; hereinafter referred to as Campbell, Common Market Law.


Common Market Law Reports, Vol. 13 (February 1974), pp. 186–202; Recueil de la Jurisprudence de la Cour, Vol. 18 (No. 7, 1972), pp. 1071–90.


Article 177 of the Treaty Establishing the European Economic Community: “The Court of Justice shall be competent to make a preliminary decision concerning: (a) the interpretation of this Treaty; (b) the validity and interpretation of acts of the institutions of the Community; and (c) the interpretation of the statutes of any bodies set up by an act of the Council, where such statutes so provide.

“Where any such question is raised before a court or tribunal of one of the Member States, such court or tribunal may, if it considers that its judgment depends on a preliminary decision on this question, request the Court of Justice to give a ruling thereon.

“Where any such question is raised in a case pending before a domestic court or tribunal from whose decisions no appeal lies under municipal law, such court or tribunal shall refer the matter to the Court of Justice.”


Campbell, Common Market Law, Vol. 2, p. 503.

See also Article 3(1) of Regulation No. 129:

“Exceptional measures

“1. Where monetary practices of an exceptional nature are such as to endanger effect being given to the meaures or provisions referred to in Article I, the Council or the Commission, acting in accordance with the powers conferred by such measures or provisions and the procedures laid down in such measures or provisions in each instance, may, after consulting the Monetary Committee, take measures which are exceptional to the present regulation, in particular in the following cases:

(a) when a member country of the International Monetary Fund, having declared to that institution a parity for its currency and that parity being recognised by the same, permits fluctuations in the value of its currency in excess of the limits laid down under this body’s rules;

(b) when a country resorts to abnormal exchange techniques such as variable or multiple exchange rates or applied a barter agreement;

(c) in the case of countries whose currency is not quoted on official foreign exchange markets.” Campbell, Common Market Law, Vol. 2, pp. 503–504.


For subsequent action on the unit of account, see Campbell, Common Market Law, Vol. 2, pp. 535–37; and Council Regulation No. 2543/73 of September 19,1973, in Official Journal of the European Communities, Vol. 16, No. L 263 (September 19, 1973).


Article IV, Sections 3 and 4(b).


Article VIII, Section 3.


Decision No. 904-(59/32), July 24, 1959, Selected Decisions, p. 11.


Article IV, Section 8. See also Joseph Gold, Maintenance of the Gold Value of the Fund’s Assets, IMF Pamphlet Series, No. 6 (Washington, Second Edition, 1971).


Article IV, Section 4(b).


Article XXI, Section 2.


Rules and Regulations, Rule O–3.


Decision No. 3537-(72/3)G/S, January 4, 1972, reproduced in Annual Report of the Executive Directors for the Fiscal Year Ended April 30, 1972 (Washington, 1972), pp. 87–88 (hereinafter referred to as Annual Report).


Nederlandse Jurisprudentie, 1972, No. 269, pp. 728–38.


See, for example, Article 22 of Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules Relating to International Carriage by Air, signed at Warsaw, October 12, 1929 (137 L.N.T.S. 11–33 (1933)); Article 6(1) of International Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules Relating to the Carriage of Passengers by Sea, done at Brussels, April 29, 1961 (Nagendra Singh, International Conventions of Merchant Shipping (London, Second Edition, 1973), p. 1359); Article 6(4) of International Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules Relating to Carriage of Passenger Luggage by Sea, done at Brussels, May 27, 1967 (ibid., p. 1364); Article 111(4) of Convention on the Liability of Operators of Nuclear Ships, done at Brussels, May 25, 1962 (ibid., p. 1370). The gold value of the Poincaré franc was fixed by the law of June 25, 1928 under the Poincaré Government.


For some cases decided by courts in the United States on the Warsaw Convention, see Koninklijke Luchtvaart Maatschappij N.V. KLM v. Tuller, 292 F. 2d 775, at 776 (D.C, Cir. June 23, 1961); Kelley v. Société Anonyme Beige D’Exploitation de la Navigation Aérienne, 242 F. Supp. 129, at 138 (U.S.D.C, N.Y., April 12, 1965); Pierre v. Eastern Air Lines, 152 F. Supp. 486, at 487–88, (U.S.D.C., N.J., June 27, 1957).


Article IV, Section 1.


International Convention on Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage, signed at Brussels, November 29, 1969, American Journal of International Law, Vol. 64 (April 1970), pp. 481–90.


Paul P. Heller, “The Warsaw Convention and the ‘Two-Tier’ Gold Market,” Journal of World Trade Law, Vol. 7 (January 1973), pp. 126–29. Mr. Heller has elaborated his views in “The Value of the Gold Franc—A Different Point of View,” Journal of Maritime Law and Commerce, Vol. 6 (October 1974), pp. 73–103.


Allan I. Mendelsohn, “The Value of the Poincaré Gold Franc in Limitation of Liability Conventions,” Journal of Maritime Imw and Commerce, Vol. 5 (October 1973), p. 127.


U. S. Congress, Senate, Committee on Foreign Relations, Subcommittee on Oceans and International Environment, International Compensation Fund for Oil Pollution Damage, Hearings on Executive K, 92nd Congress, 2nd Session, and S. 841, 93rd Congress, 1st Session (Washington, April 17–18, 1973), pp. 120–21.


Ibid., p. 121. According to the current draft of one international convention in the field of transportation that is being negotiated, the Poincaré franc would be used, and conversion would be made into the currency of the forum on the basis of the official value of the currency. If there were no official value, the competent authority of the state of the forum would determine what should be considered the official value for the purposes of the convention.


S. Royer, “De omrekeningskoers van goudfranken in guldens: pariwaarde of spilkoers?” Nederlands Juristenblad, Jaargang 48, 73/20 (May 19, 1973), pp. 601–606.


The Germinal franc was established after the French Revolution by the law of March 28, 1803 (7 Germinal of year XI of the revolutionary calendar) with a gold content of 10/31 gram, nine-tenths fine. In 1865 it was adopted as the gold franc of the Latin Union. Among the conventions in which it appears are International Convention Concerning the Carriage of Goods by Rail (CIM), done at Berne, February 25, 1961 (U.K. Cmnd. 2187) and International Convention Concerning the Carriage of Passengers and Luggage by Rail (CIV), done at Berne, February 25, 1961 (U.K. Cmnd. 2186).


Appendix 1 to each of the two Regulations deals with other situations, and prescribes the rate of exchange between currencies “on the official or generally accepted foreign exchange market” if there is no par value or central rate or if margins recognized by the Articles or the Fund’s decisions or previously established by an issuer are not being observed. The Regulations also provide that “[i]f there should be a radical change in the international monetary system (e.g.a substantial general change in the official price of gold, or if gold ceased to be used generally as a basic reference for currencies)” that invalidates or makes it inappropriate to apply the provisions of the Appendix, the administrations and agencies would be free to agree on different provisions pending revision of the Appendix.


Decision No. 3463-(71/126), December 18, 1971, Selected Decisions, pp. 12–15.


Decision No. 4083-(73/104), November 7, 1973, in Annual Report, 1974, Appendix II (Washington, 1974), pp. 103–105.


Decision No. 3637-(72/41)G/S, May 8, 1972, Selected Decisions, pp. 17–19.


For the margins under the amended decision, see paragraphs 1, 3, and 7 of the decision.


See IMF Press Release No. 74/29, June 13, 1974, reproduced in IMF Survey, Vol. 3 (June 17, 1974), pp. 177 and 185.


See T.M.C. Asser, “Golden Limitations of Liability in International Transport Conventions and the Currency Crisis,” Journal of Maritime Law and Commerce, Vol. 5 (July 1974), pp. 645–69. Mr. Asser quotes extensively from the judgment in the Hornlinie case.


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IMF Staff papers: Volume 22 No. 1
Author: International Monetary Fund. Research Dept.