Questions about IMF/World Bank Reform? Ask a TripleCrisis Economist.

The 2010 Spring Meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank will be held over the weekend of April 24-25 at the World Bank and IMF Headquarters in Washington, D.C.  As in previous years, a Civil Society Policy Forum, a program of policy dialogues for Civil Society Organizations, will be held between April 22-25, 2010. In the wake of the triple crises in finance, development and the environment, the Bretton Woods institutions face increasing pressure for reform.

In advance of the meetings, the unique collection of international economists at the Triple Crisis Blog is taking your questions.  What arguments most need sound backing from economic analysts?  Which reform proposals are you unsure about?

Post your questions as comments on this blog posting, and Triple Crisis analysts will do their best to answer with blog posts.  Look for answers during the meetings and in the week before.  We’ll answer as many as we can.  We look forward to your questions.

Note: Open full post and scroll to the bottom to leave a comment. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately, but they will appear promptly.

17 Responses to “Questions about IMF/World Bank Reform? Ask a TripleCrisis Economist.”

  1. Jillian Gladstone says:

    Will recent Brazilian protectionist measures ( motivate the US to institute more conciliatory agricultural policies and trade practices? And is there any hope that those sanctions or a US response might spur some talk this month of energizing the Doha talks?

  2. Should establishment of an international currency norm based on inclusion of all costs be established for ranking measurement and value storage efficiencies of national currencies and monetary systems?

  3. Dr. R. Shashi Kumar says:

    What would be the impact on the economic crisis on the financial literacy of the Developing Countries?

  4. Dr. R. Shashi Kumar says:

    What is the role of EU in the changing economic environment of the world?

  5. How can the Bretton Woods institutions be reformed or revolutionanised to be better manage commons. In light of the recent Elinor Ostrom Nobel on governance of the commons, the dire state of management of the climate commons and the stark mismanagement of the world using the free-market fundamentalist paradigm.

  6. The Financial Transfer Tax (FTT) has received a lot of notice in Europe but few mainstream economists in the US are engaging the issue. Is the FTT a realistic option and is it feasible, how could it be implemented? Is the IMF likely to inlcude it in the paper they ae preparing for the G20 on options to pay for the ecpnomic crisis?

  7. What would happen if those at the IMF and WB renounced their (and other economists’) concerns for just the currently wealthy of the world, and, instead, committed their currently limited thought processes to considering, to the best of their ability, the full ramifications of a truly Democratic Socioeconomic Platform searching for a truly Democratic Political Party? More specifically, what if the Democratic Socioeconomic Platform were characterized as follows:

    Democratic Socioeconomic Platform, in search of a Democratic Political Party.

    The defining documentation and developmental discussion of this Democratic Socioeconomic Platform are now available on the website of the Center for the Study of Democratic Societies, which you are hereby respectfully invited to (re)visit.

    This Democratic Socioeconomic Platform is based on the theory described and justified in the book Socioeconomic Democracy: An Advanced Socioeconomic System (Praeger, 2002).

    More directly, you will find the complete DSeP document and shorter articles further describing or emphasizing different specific aspects of the democratic system at Democratic Socioeconomic Platform.

    The Contents of this 2-Part Democratic Socioeconomic Platform are as follows:

    Part I – Democratic Systems

    Political Platforms
    Democratic Socioeconomic Platforms
    Essential Aspects of Socioeconomic Democracy
    Economic Elements of Socioeconomic Democracy
    Economic Incentives Created by Socioeconomic Democracy
    Democratic Resolution of Socioeconomic Problems

    Part II – Socioeconomic Ramifications

    A number of Individual yet Intimately Intertwined Socioeconomic Problems Successfully Resolved or Significantly Reduced with Socioeconomic Democracy
    References and Links
    Suggested Further Reading

    Prelude to

    A Democratic Socioeconomic Platform, in search of a Democratic Political Party

    It seems a different country about this glorious globe experiences/undergoes a “crucially decisive” election practically every few months. Not that many (any?) countries about this polluted planet ever approach, in any meaningful sense, the ideal (whatever that is) of a democratic society.

    Not infrequently, the election results are relatively closely decided, e.g., 51/49, up to a ‘divergence from balanced-difference’ of, say, 54/46, regardless of whether 10, 33, 49, 51, 69 or 98 percent of the eligible voters vote.

    Then, of course, there is the matter of “Who is eligible to vote?” and the matters of “Who says so, and why?” There is the very wide variation in the confidence of the meaningfulness of participating in some or any particular political process in order to help realize peaceful, just, appropriate and desirable personal benefit, as well as equally farsighted overall societal benefit. And there is the matter of the quality of the questions, even if to be decided democratically, proffered by many contemporary politicians, political parties and political processes.

    And all the above is regardless of considerations such as the magnitude, frequency and extent of the accidental as well as intentional alterings of any supposed democratic voting process outcome by strategically placed technological capability employing a wide variety of ingenious new inventions, as well as all the old tried-and-true traditional ploys of vote intimidation, shaving and fraud.

    In those relatively fewer situations where a large majority of the eligible voters, which in turn make up a large portion of the “adult” population, vote for the same person or plan, it can be assumed, or at least strongly suspected, that the society is either doing something very, very good (relatively speaking) or experiencing something very, very bad (in an absolute and no-doubt painful way). More frequently, the latter situation prevails … (continued at)

    An earlier version of this article was published in two parts (July and August ’09) on the PelicanWeb e-Journal at and

    Introduction to a Democratic Socioeconomic Platform

    The purpose of this Democratic Socioeconomic Platform is to put forth a new, fundamentally just, democratic and systemically consistent political platform capable of, when democratically implemented, satisfactorily resolving or significantly reducing a wide variety of contemporary serious societal problems, as well as effectively enhancing the General Welfare of All Citizens of a Democratic Society.

    Socioeconomic Democracy, which is the essence of the proposed DSeP, can be viewed as engaging in Transformational Politics, that is, an evolutionary politics that consciously, openly, honestly, forthrightly, publicly, peacefully, democratically and successfully works to realize Synergetic Inclusive Societal Improvement. It will be seen that Socioeconomic Democracy contributes significantly to the Positive Empowerment and Healthy Development of all Participants of a Democratic Society.

    Specifically, Socioeconomic Democracy (SeD) is a theoretical and practical socioeconomic system wherein there exist both some form and amount of locally appropriate Universally Guaranteed Personal Income (UGI) and some form and amount of locally appropriate Maximum Allowable Personal Wealth (MAW), with both the lower bound on personal material poverty and the upper bound on personal material wealth set and adjusted democratically by all participants of a democratic society … (continued at)

    Different Possibilities for the Magnitudes of the Two Democratically Set Bounds of Universally Guaranteed Personal Income (UGI) and Maximum Allowable Personal Wealth (MAW) in the practice of Socioeconomic Democracy

    This particular episode in the continuing discussions of the specifics of Socioeconomic Democracy and a Democratic Socioeconomic Platform is devoted primarily to encouraging and expanding awareness and appreciation of the very wide ranges of possibilities when considering and democratically determining the locally appropriate, societally acceptable, desirable and desired bounds on personal material poverty and personal material wealth, as suggested by Socioeconomic Democracy.

    The current startling and somewhat spectacular global economic implosion, the painful, unjust ramifications for literally billions of “ordinary” people simply trying to live a meaningful life, the “necessary” further neglect of those already too neglected, and the increasing demand for fundamentally improved economic systems everywhere, all emphasize the necessity of a critical and detailed consideration of various possible specific numerical values of the societally tolerable bounds on personal material poverty and wealth. The alleged popularity and desirability of democracy, whether sincere or not, allows for and facilitates this exploration of possibilities … (continued at)

    This article has also been published (Nov ’09) on the PelicanWeb e-Journal at

    Ramifications of Socioeconomic Democracy

    It is clear the world desperately needs a fundamentally improved economic system. Two major aspects of this necessary improvement are the Definition of Wealth and the Distribution of Wealth. The democratic distribution of wealth and the resultant desirable ramifications in the socioeconomic realm are considered here. …

    As described at length elsewhere, Socioeconomic Democracy would create economic incentive and provide necessary funds to effect significant reduction in an almost surprisingly diverse array of unnecessary yet painful individual, societal and global problems.

    These intimately intertwined problems include (but are by no means limited to) those familiar ones involving: automation, computerization and robotization; budget deficits and national debts; bureaucracy; maltreatment of children; crime and punishment; development, sustainable or otherwise; ecology, environment, resources and pollution; education; the elderly; the feminine majority; inflation; international conflict; intranational conflict; involuntary employment; involuntary unemployment; labor strife and strikes; sick medical and health care; military metamorphosis; natural disasters; pay justice; planned obsolescence; political participation; poverty; racism; sexism; untamed technology; and the General Welfare. Below are sketched some of the desirable impact of Socioeconomic Democracy on all these serious societal problems … (continued at)


    Robley E. George
    Director, Center for the Study of Democratic Societies
    Coordinador, Nonkilling Economics Research Committee
    Policy Adviser for Civil Rights Party of Canada

  8. E Aboyeji says:

    What will be the effect of the Financial transactions task on remittances going to the dveeloping world?

    Will it slow growth?

    Would financial reforms that seek to delink services and overturn Volcker’s rule present an oppurtunity for banks in emerging countries who still follow these principles to overtake their more established northern counterparts?

  9. Kamran Kossar says:

    I have read with a great deal of interest Timothy Wise’s article “Agribusiness and the food crisis: a new thrust at antitrust”, which begs further research on the abuse of monopoly and monopsony power of agro conglomerates. To be more explicit, research into the strucutre of agricultural commodities markets would indicate that while traders,
    processors and retailers are becoming increasingly consolidated and concentrated,the producers, particularly poor farmers in developing countries,have become increasingly atomized. The dismantling of commodity boards
    in developing countries in the 1980s in the context of structural adjustment programmes put the nail in the coffin of any attempt at regulating the commodity markets and ensuring equitable prices for producers. In this context, any value chain study would demonstrate that farmers are only receiving a very small fraction of the final price of commodities they produce and that the buying power
    of the conglomerates is such that they can dictate prices and other conditions. The problem is that there is no universal anti trust law which can deal with the anti- competitive behaviour of TNCs and the international community has fallen way shy of adopting such legislation. Moreover, attempts at stabilizing commodity prices
    through negotiations between consumer and producing countries, which had begun in the 70s in the context of the UN and UNCTAD, were subsequently shelved with the onset of the recession in the early 80s and the emergence of market fundamentalism. Perhaps these issues would need to be revisited.

  10. Rosaline Hirschowitz says:

    In the past, the IMF and World Bank have focused on government loans to address development issues. But these loans have come with a range of conditions supporting the ideology of neo-liberalism (or neo-conservatism as this approach is also known). Absolute poverty and increasing inequality remain serious issues in spite of these loans. Even in countries with high economic growth, these problems persist. What reforms would you suggest to ensure that aid actually reaches the people who are suffering? How can these organizations take steps to move away from the ideology of neo-liberalism towards developing scientifically-based economic policies that are pro-poor? How can the Bretton Woods Institutions best measure implementation of pro-poor government policies?

  11. Ilene Grabel says:

    Dr. R. Shashi Kumar says:

    What would be the impact on the economic crisis on the financial literacy of the Developing Countries?

    It may well be that financial literacy in developing countries improves as a consequence of the economic crisis. This may be due to the experiences of rich countries, where it turns out that levels of financial literacy were quite low. Certainly there are many structural reasons why corporations, municipal governments, and households deployed exotic, opaque and highly risky financing strategies and instruments in the run up to the crisis. And we know that credit rating agencies understood the risks of these instruments and financing strategies to much less of an extent than we would have imagined prior to the crisis. Thus, we may see a reduction in the developing world of enthusiasm for replicating the financial models of the rich countries. This would be a kind of silver lining associated with the current crisis. It might also be the case that there is more interest in increasing the availability of domestically generated sources of finance in the developing world (in contrast to the tendency to rely on external sources of finance, such as portfolio investment, foreign direct investment, foreign bank loans, remittances). This may be due to the fact that the risks of at least most of these sources of finance have been made plain by the crisis.

  12. HGSD says:

    There is one question that comes to my mind:

    Until now, the IMF and the World Bank have encouraged neoliberalism approaches to deal with issues related to poverty, environment and development. They also claim that the only way to deal with the current crisis is through further liberalization. Even though poverty is increasing globally , the IMF and the World Bank are still pushing for more globalization and trade. Isn’t globalization and free trade what caused poverty and global warming in the first place?

    Will the reforms of the IMF/WORLD BANK push for more liberalization for the benefit of multinational companies or will they finally realize that localization and food sovereignty are the only ways to face poverty? Will we finally see a IMF/WORLD BANK policy that truly acknowledges the rights of the poor and the least developed countries?

  13. In accordance with the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness and the Accra Agenda for Action, increased partner country parliamentary oversight of development financing mechanisms and budgets is a key component of country ownership of the development process. How will the proposed governance reforms in the Bretton Woods Institutions support parliamentary oversight and civil society participation in development monitoring processes, and will these governance reforms lead to more aid being channeled directly to a partner country’s general budget support (which is far easier for a country’s parliament to scrutinize than external aid)? Relatedly, if the governance reforms fail to reinforce parliamentary oversight of multilateral aid, are the Bretton Woods Institutions prepared to address the challenges this poses to fully realizing the democratic process of parliament’s budgetary oversight function?

  14. Green protectionism might be necessary. The carbon/pollution/energy taxes thus imposed can be the very mechanism that gets the multinationals off their oil squandering habits while bringing funds to the governments that need them while those responsible have more too to pay their climate debt.

    A friend who likes to go boating lives in Washington D.C. She was trying to get to grips with the concept of Carbon Tax on an Intl. scale so I concocted an example of the purchasing decision on a plastic canoe:

    “Oil for the plastic is mined in Amazonian Peru using local gas supplies to generate energy for the mine and to power the drills (Ka-ching). Tax the energy use (gas burned to operate mine) and export the oil adding that tax to the price of the oil (Peruvian government benefits and uses taxes locally).

    The oil is sent from Peru to China. China pays for the oil with the extraction energy tax price included then it sends the oil to the factory for making plastic for canoes. A tax is charged on pollution emissions in China on dirty energy use in transport and plastic. Marine transport (tax on bunker fuel) on import is already paid but refilling the tanker the Chinese government charges the bunker fuel tax.

    The plastic factory gets its electricity from coal which is mined in Siberia. The coal is imported already taxed for extraction energy used in Russia. The coal is transported across China by train to the local city. The train runs on diesel imported from Venezuela –already taxed for extraction cost but taxing the train’s fuel where it is sold (in Russia) and that which is used to transport it in China (in China).

    The factory buys the oil and makes plastic, then it sends the plastic to another factory to make the boat. Again it pays the transport cost in a truck powered by diesel which was taxed at point of sale in China with the extraction energy costs in the oil producing country (let’s say Iran).

    Another factory makes the boat packages it and does delivery to the US in a train in China then a ship then in a fleet of trucks in the US to the canoe store in Washington DC. All transport is done by means of taxed oil in china, and the US twice.

    Customer takes the underground to a store in Washington D.C. and there are two canoes for sale one made in Vermont with a plastic made from plant extracts manufactured using wind energy by unionized workers paid $50.00 an hour and the other from China,(with a cool US-based design, brand and marketing).

    The Chinese workers are paid 25 cents an hour to make the plastic, transport the goods and make the boat, the Philippinos who work on the Danish ships in the high sea are paid $5.00 a day with room and board included.

    The Vermont boat is for sale for $900 and the Chinese one is $1,800 with a $50 recycling charge redeemable if properly recycled.

    Which canoe does one buy?”

    The logical answer is that one buys the US canoe then the US taxes (manufacture, wages, sales tax and corporate taxation) can be used to pay the climate debt owed.

    To compete China needs to look to more local markets, or smaller easier to transport goods (for export) or avoid energy waste in manufacture avoiding the tax by making its own renewable energy.

    In the current system the taxes are avoided (or negative) by transfer pricing and subsidies — the money becomes part of transnational earnings / dividends which are partially off-shored so the tax is not available to be sent to the most affected countries for mitigation or adaptation.

    (Sometimes an example is
    needed to illustrate the
    complexity of a situation)

  15. Amit dhingra says:

    why india is going towards full capital account convertibility even knowing the fact that finacial market volatility and recent crisis.Infact paul krugman also supported and IMF 2008 reform packege include, capital controls

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