IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn Underscores Fund’s Role in Global Economic Cooperation and Urges Nations to Finalize Key Quota Reform Measures

Press Release No. 09/353
October 6, 2009

International Monetary Fund Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn told the world’s economic and monetary policy makers today that global economic cooperation has clearly worked to stabilize current conditions and has demonstrated that they have an historic opportunity to create the conditions necessary for “a virtuous cycle of peace and prosperity” if they continue to work together and with the IMF on key policy measures.

Mr. Strauss-Kahn, speaking at the opening ceremonies of the 2009 Annual Meetings of the Boards of Governors of the World Bank Group and IMF in Istanbul, Turkey, framed his call for deeper global economic cooperation against the backdrop of the past year. “A year ago, when we met, the fall of Lehman Brothers had just occurred. Economic activity all over the world started going into free fall, as uncertainty turned to outright panic. People feared the worst, raising the specter of another Great Depression. But as I speak to you today, the world is a different place. Fear has turned to hope. We seem to have pulled back from the brink, and even if it is much too early to declare victory, we have at least stepped onto the road of recovery.”

He noted the “profound change” that formal and informal cooperation among nations had brought, adding that “in the face of crisis, countries came together to face common challenges with common solutions, focusing on the global common good.” Mr. Strauss-Kahn pointed to fiscal stimulus amounting to nearly 2 percent of world gross domestic product in the last year as a critical factor in staunching the crisis, and he stated that countries are moving to address key weaknesses in their financial sectors, which will further underpin recovery if they stay the course on these reforms.

“And now, we stand at a defining moment,” he stressed. “We know from history that when the nations of the world come together to address common challenges in a spirit of solidarity, we can attain a virtuous cycle of peace and prosperity, and avoid a vicious cycle of conflict and stagnation.”

The Managing Director urged countries to “seize this opportunity to shape the post-crisis world,” adding that all nations “need to adapt and change” and that the IMF must change too. “In this modern globalized world, it no longer makes sense for global economic policy to be the concern of just a small group of countries. Reflecting this new reality, one of the great changes over the past year has been the ascent of the G-20—a group that includes the dynamic emerging economies. It was the leadership of the G-20 that harnessed the immense policy cooperation throughout the world. And recently in Pittsburgh, G-20 leaders emphasized that the global collective interest must always infuse national policy decisions.”

“We must build on this momentum. The G-20 is more representative than the G-7, but there are still many countries left out, especially in Africa. There are 186 countries in our membership. These countries include the low-income countries, home to billions who still live in poverty, who remain economically marginalized. Their voices too must be heard. They too deserve a stake in the global economy. We need cooperation among all the countries of the world,” he said. In this context, the IMF is ready to promote and foster deeper global economic cooperation. But the Managing Director urged the finance ministers and central bank governors at the Annual Meetings to step forward with the necessary commitments to enhance the Fund’s legitimacy among its wide membership.

This starts with a review of the IMF’s mandate “to encompass the whole range of macroeconomic and financial sector policies that affect global stability,” noting that “This crisis had very little to do with current accounts and currency movements, the traditional focus of the Fund’s attention. In an era of high-volume and fast-moving capital flows that can extend to every corner of the world, we need a broader mandate.”

It also involves coming to a firm decisions on the shift in IMF quota shares toward dynamic emerging markets and developing countries by at least 5 percent from over-represented to under-represented countries by January 2011. “This boosts our legitimacy, and represents a significant down payment on our future effectiveness,” he said. “But as we talk about the future, implementation of past reform is lagging—only 36 out of the needed 111 countries have passed the legislation related to the 2008 quota and voice reform. I urge countries to move ahead here as quickly as possible (see Press Release No. 08/93).”

Mr. Strauss-Kahn told the finance ministers and central bank governors attending the Annual Meetings that “We have come a long way, but the journey is not over. Coming out of Sunday’s meeting, the IMFC has asked us to address four key reform areas—our mandate, our financing role, multilateral surveillance, and governance.” This “Istanbul decision,” he said, will be a focal point of IMF activities for the coming year.

“At the end of the day, the endeavor we have embarked upon together is about peace and stability. It is about the welfare and security of the almost 7 billion people who share our planet. As John Maynard Keynes noted at the founding of the IMF, the hope was that “the brotherhood of man will have become more than a phrase”. We have a historic opportunity to reshape our post-crisis world—and to make that phrase a reality,” he concluded.



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