Daily Archives: April 24, 2010

Simone Baribeau

For anyone interested…

Full communiqué

Simone Baribeau

It’s easier to ask for the benefit of the doubt than to give it.

In response to a question about the Greeks’ low opinion of the IMF, Youssef Boutros-Ghali, chairman of the International Monetary and Financial Committee, called on critics to “give the IMF the benefit of the doubt,” arguing that it is a changed institution.

So is the IMF giving the benefit of the doubt to those whose financial systems held up in the crisis but who are now pushing back against calls for reform? Doesn’t look like it.

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, IMF managing director, in an apparent swipe at the Canadas of the world, said that resisting co-ordinated reforms was “short-sighted”. Countries whose financial systems came close to collapse, would likely have, in the pre-crisis days, felt that they too needed no stronger regulation. If banks in those countries failed, Mr Strauss-Kahn argued, others could be similarly overly optimistic about the strength of their system. 

Alan Beattie

We generally call it the renminbi round here, but yuan gives a better headline. Just come out of a briefing from the UK’s Alistair Darling, taking a break from the general election campaign (for those taking notes, he’s got a majority of 7,242, not the safest seat in the world but not a marginal).

Darling had just stepped out of the IMF ministerial committee meeting in which, he informed us when I asked him, the words “yuan” and “renminbi” were never uttered. Apparently they discussed global economic imbalancing in somewhat broader terms. And the 800-pound panda in the corner of the room went ignored.

Simone Baribeau

Some Latin American countries have made some less-than-orthodox decisions during the crisis. What does the IMF have to say about them? For the most part, Nicolás Eyzaguirre, the IMF’s director of the Western Hemisphere department, was, if not supportive, not critical either.

Asked at a presser during the IMF spring meetings about Argentina’s decision to pay back its debt using central bank reserves (a saga which felled one resistant central bank governor), Mr Eyzaguirre responded: “Each country decides on its own sovereignty how it’s going to decide with debt management, so we don’t have an opinion on that.”

He was also emphatic that the Fund had not objected to Brazil’s decision to tax capital inflows. “Our first reaction 

Simone Baribeau

Change is here. Anoop Singh, the IMF’s Director, Asia Pacific Department, outlined the differences between this global recovery and prior recoveries in Asia in a press briefing. What were Asia’s three main firsts?

This is the first time that Asia’s contribution to a global recovery outstripped outher regions; the first time the recovery has been reinforced by resilient domestic demand, rather than just exports; and the first time the capital inflow to the region have surged to this degree.

Of course, not everything could be a first. Here’s a wrap of Mr. Singh’s other comments on the region. 

Alan Beattie

A communique that more or less acknowledged disagreement over the great bank taxes debate and a Canadian finance minister, Jim Flaherty, thinking that the debate was swinging Canada’s (anti-bank levy, pro-contingent capital) way. I think one of two things could happen at this point:

1. The US and Europeans who support the bank tax will keep pushing it at G20 level, perhaps soft-pedalling until after the Canadian-hosted G7/G20 summit in June and then resuming the campaign in the second half of the year.

2. As Secretary Geithner suggested tonight, the US might just forge ahead anyway and hope that the rest of the world follows behind once they see what a great idea it is. My notes (not precise quote) say: “We are going to move in the US and I suspect you will find when other countries see what we do, they are going to take similar measures”.

Not entirely sure that 2. is a sustainable option, since other countries might well think it is worth taking the risk of funding a bank bailout down the line to steal business from American and European banks now. Then again, Canadian banks aren’t particularly known for buccaneering adventurism in other developed country markets (some are quite big in emerging markets), so perhaps they are an exception that can be tolerated without too much risk of being undercut. Japan, on the other hand, another opponent of bank taxes, could be a different matter.