Thursday, 30 October 2008

Bretton Woods revisions

There are plans for revision of the Bretton Woods institutions (the IMF and World Bank) following the difficulties encountered by developed countries in the recent credit crunch. A conference is planned for the end of the year, I believe.

The Bretton Woods institutions are actually today subject to less criticism than in the past. The senior personnel is less controversial and more technocratic, their predictions have been lauded, and they have acted on - perhaps superficially - many of the criticisms lobbed in their direction for the last two decades.

The difference between the international response to developing country problems in the 1980s and developed countries problems today is marked. In the 1980s, the Bretton Woods institutions were inflexible and developing countries changed their policies; today, developed countries get the Bretton Woods institutions to change. It doesn't seem to me that developing countries were less or more responsible for their predicaments than developed countries are today. The difference lies in the power balance.

Ever thus, I suppose, and probably the 1940s BW structures are obsolescent, but the difference between then and now is still illustrative.

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