Indonesia and the IMF
Japan and the IMF
Republic of Korea and the IMF
Thailand and the IMF
Special Data Dissemination Standard
Heavily Indebted Poor Countries -- A Factsheet
IMF Surveillance -- A Factsheet
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JOINT PRESS CONFERENCE|
PHILIPPE MAYSTADT, CHAIRMAN INTERIM COMMITTEE
MICHEL CAMDESSUS, MANAGING DIRECTOR IMF
April 16, 1998, 8:00 p.m.
IMF Meeting Hall
MR. MAYSTADT: Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. As you know, the
Interim Committee has focused its work on the strengthening that could
be brought to the architecture of the international monetary system, and
as usual we also had a discussion on the issues raised in the World
Economic Outlook, with a special emphasis on the situation of the
countries at the center of the crisis. I had invited a representative from
Thailand, Korea, and Indonesia to give the Committee their perspective on
the current situation in Asia.
The Committee adopted a code of good practices on fiscal transparency to
serve as a guide to members to increase fiscal transparency and enhance
the accountability and credibility of fiscal policy as a key feature of good
governance. The Committee also reaffirmed its view that the Executive
Board should pursue its work on an amendment of the Fund's Articles of
Agreement that would make the promotion of an orderly and
well-sequenced liberalization of capital movements one of the purposes
of the Fund and to extend, as needed, the Fund's jurisdiction for this
purpose. Finally, the Committee discussed the progress made under the
HIPC initiative (the initiative to provide debt relief to heavily indebted
poor countries). The Committee stressed the importance of securing the
full funding for this initiative, and the Committee also emphasized the
importance of drawing operational conclusions from the issues raised by
both the internal and external evaluations of the ESAF (Enhanced
Structural Adjustment Facility).
| IMF Managing Director Michel Camdessus and Interim
Committee Chairman Philippe Maystadt|
But what I would like to emphasize is what the Committee considers as
the main steps that need to be taken to strengthen the global monetary and
financial system. The text of the communiqué provides a detailed account of the
richness of the Committee's discussion and of the concrete
improvements that the IMF needs to bring to the current framework for
crisis prevention and crisis settlement. I could comment on each specific
point that is mentioned in the communiqué, but this might require too much of your
time. Instead, I would like to underline three main
conclusions that in my view can be drawn from the Committee's
The first conclusion is that globalization has increased the vulnerability
of domestic and international financial systems to potential shocks,
including to shifts in market sentiment and to contagion effects from
policy weaknesses in other countries. The answer to this challenge is
manyfold. Let me highlight from the communiqué four areas for action by
First, the Fund should actively encourage members to adopt
internationally agreed standards for strengthening banking regulation and
supervision, especially the Basle Committee's core principles. The Fund
should also work with other institutions and organizations responsible for
the development of standards in other areas such as accounting, auditing,
disclosure, asset valuation, bankruptcy, corporate governance, and so on.
|Mr. Camdessus, Mr. Maystadt and Mr.
Second, the Fund should underscore the importance of orderly and properly
sequenced liberalization of capital movements.
Third, the Fund should enhance its surveillance of capital flows and focus
on the risks posed by abrupt reversals of capital flows, and in this context
a specific request has been made to the Executive Board to examine ways
to strengthen the monitoring of capital flows, especially short-term
Fourth, the Fund should pursue its cooperation with the World Bank to find
the most effective way to offer its members the best possible advice on
policy measures for strengthening their financial systems, and new forms
of collaboration might be needed in order to fully use the accumulated
expertise in both institutions.
The second conclusion from the discussion that I would underline relates
to the importance of greater availability and transparency of information
regarding data and policies. I draw your attention to page 4 of the
communiqué. You will see that the Committee underscored members'
obligation to provide timely and accurate data to the Fund, and if
persistent deficiencies in disclosing relevant data to the Fund impede
surveillance, the conclusion of Article IV consultations should be delayed.
The Committee also recognized the importance of encouraging more
members to subscribe to the special data dissemination standard, and the
Committee emphasized the importance of subscribers being in full
observance of the standard at least by the end of the transition period at
the end of this year, December 1998. About 40 members have already
subscribed to this special data dissemination standard, but we want to be
sure that all the subscribers fully comply with the obligations of this
|Mr. Maystadt and reporters|
Also, the Committee encouraged more members to release press
information notices on the conclusions of Article IV consultations.
The third conclusion concerns the involvement of the private sector in
crisis resolution. I refer to page 5 and page 6 of the communiqué. You will
see that the Committee thinks it is quite important that all creditors,
including short-term creditors, bear more fully the consequences of their
actions. And the Committee requested the Executive Board to intensify its
consideration of possible steps to strengthen private sector involvement.
You will find on page 6 of the communiqué a list of different mechanisms
for meeting this objective which should be considered by the Executive
Board, and the Committee requested that the Executive Board report on all
aspects of its work in these areas at the next meeting of the Committee.
You will see that there are some quite interesting suggestions, but, of
course, it was not possible to make a final judgment today. We have,
nonetheless, given to the Executive Board a list of concrete ways to
strengthen the involvement of the private sector in crisis resolution.
These are the main points I would like to underline in this rather long
THE MANAGING DIRECTOR: I admire the way that the chairman was able in
so few words to sum up this long and complex communiqué, and I believe
that it is a transparent presentation of our work.
QUESTION: Are you satisfied that the request for the Board to develop a
tiered response in terms of publicizing the advice to countries which
aren't taking the Fund's advice doesn't risk triggering the crisis it's
supposed to prevent?
THE MANAGING DIRECTOR: This suggestion here is useful because it refers
to a situation where a government would persist after being encouraged,
after being assisted in producing data, etcetera, would persist in the
refusal to heed advice. This would be, indeed, a distinct instance of non-
cooperation with the Fund, something very serious, indeed. And I believe
that the fact that the Interim Committee has made clear that we had this
possibility--we have already, as a matter of fact--will be a good
incentive to our members to cooperate even better.
QUESTION: Two questions. First, about the communiqué on page 1, in
reference to the Japanese banking system, you said, and I quote, "any
support to the banking system should be accompanied by appropriate
action on closure or consolidation, and undertaken as part of a coherent
medium-term policy framework." Does this reflect your concern that the
Japanese authorities are not closing banks which should be closed by
infusing public money and by other means?
My second question is to the Managing Director, about the yen. Do you share
the G-7 countries' concern about the excessive depreciation of the yen,
especially its negative impact on the Japanese, Asian, and world
economies? If so, do you support coordinated joint intervention by the G-7
THE MANAGING DIRECTOR: First of all, I must tell you that this sentence
about the banking system has been agreed by consensus. It means that it
reflects the views of the entire membership, including the Japanese
authorities. The banking package was agreed only a few weeks ago. This
was an occasion for the Japanese authorities to make clear in which spirit
of transparency and determination they wanted to implement these
measures. They made clear that if banks are truly insolvent, they will be
closed. And that any distribution of financial support will be accompanied
by an explicit program for the consolidation of the banks, a program which
will unfold over the medium term. This is what is captured by this
Now, on the yen, yes, I share the views of the G-7. I consider that even if
you take into consideration the cyclical position of the Japanese economy,
the depreciation of the yen is excessive and does not help the proper
rebalancing of the world economy. This being said, the view not only of the
G7, but of the full membership is that such an issue must be addressed by
the quick and full implementation of the program for banking
restructuring and fiscal stimulus, adopted by the government of Prime
Minister Hashimoto. It is the effect of these measures on the Japanese
economy which should help the yen come back to more appropriate levels.
Interventions, coordinated or not, in the absence of a full implementation
of this program wouldn't make sense, and this is why, I think rightly so,
the G-7 in their communiqué have put the finger on the need for taking
macroeconomic, fiscal, budgetary, structural measures, and have not
referred at this stage to the need for coordinated intervention. Even if
they mention the readiness to intervene in the markets, if at all needed,
this applies to all the currencies and not specifically to the yen.
QUESTION: A couple of scattered questions. In the tiered response that
you're talking about, do you foresee a situation where the Fund would go
public on its concerns without the consent of the member nations?
Second, there were several proposals made by G-7 members prior to this
about disclosure and financial regulation, for instance Mr. Rubin's idea of
restricting access to advanced economies for banks whose home countries
have lax regulation, or Mr. Brown's suggestion of joint IMF-World Bank
surveillance of financial regulation; were any of those proposals
THE MANAGING DIRECTOR: First, your question on the IMF going public with
its opinion on a given country without the country's consent. This was
mentioned during the meeting of the Committee. But as an ultima ratio. As
a matter of fact, we don't need the Interim Committee to do that. There is
provision in our Articles of Agreement. If my memory serves me well, it
is Article XII, 8, which, with a majority of 70 percent, allows the IMF to
go public with its views on a given country. But, of course, this is truly
the ultima ratio. What the Interim Committee has suggested rather is a
progressive strengthening of our language. This was characterized by the
metaphor of the yellow card in soccer games. The Interim Committee has
encouraged us from time to time to show the yellow card a little more.
One of the aspects of it could be, for instance, when I send a letter to a
prime minister or to a minister of finance, to tell him that he must
respond to my letter, possibly within a short period, and allow me to
share his response with the Executive Board. It's this concept of a
graduated strategy that is favored by the Interim Committee. And I think
it is the strong hope of the Committee that the IMF will never be in the
situation to have to resort to the red card of going public with its
negative opinion on a given country.
MR. MAYSTADT: On the text, we agreed to speak about increasingly strong
warnings. We didn't mention public warnings explicitly, but I think that I
can draw the conclusion from the discussion in the Committee that this
phrase, increasingly strong warnings, does not exclude that as an ultimate
step in exceptional circumstances the Fund might go public, if there is no
other way to convince a member to follow the advice and
recommendations of the Fund. But, it's envisaged really as an ultimate
step and quite exceptional.
THE MANAGING DIRECTOR: I have not answered part of your question,
namely the fear that we could trigger a crisis we are there to avoid. No.
We wouldn't have this fear. This fear wouldn't deter us, because in such a
situation, clearly the origin of the crisis wouldn't be with our statement,
but with the malgovernance of the country.
QUESTION: What about Mr. Rubin's and Mr. Brown's proposals?
THE MANAGING DIRECTOR: Secretary Rubin did not, if I remember well,
mention this idea (of restricting banks' access to advanced economies)
during the discussion. Chancellor Brown has suggested that, if needed, we
consider new forms of cooperation with the World Bank. It is alluded to in
the communiqué. And, I will see during the summer with my colleague how
to build on all of that. If new steps are judged necessary, we will
certainly take them.
QUESTION: I wonder if what you envision after December is that if there
are countries which do not agree to adhere to the code of conduct or if
there are countries which do not make information readily available, or if
there are countries that do not have sufficient banking regulations or
bankruptcy laws, that meet the minimum standards, that you would
identify these countries so that investors would understand the risks of
loaning money or investing money in those countries; is that the
architecture that you have in mind, that you wouldn't force such reforms
on countries, but that everyone should know when countries fall below the
standards that the Fund would set? Am I understanding correctly what you
envision in the future?
MR. MAYSTADT: The Committee asked the Executive Board to reflect on all
this. As regards the special data dissemination standard, it is clear that
after the transition period all the subscribers should be in full compliance
with the obligation. If a member country doesn't comply, we should think
about the best way to convince this member to adopt the right measures
to be sure that we give the right signal to the markets. But, if after some
delay, and if after providing technical assistance to this country if
needed, the country doesn't comply, I think we should envisage
withdrawing the country from the list of subscribers. Otherwise, we
would give a false signal to the markets. The Executive Board will reflect
further on this situation, and we expect more concrete answers on this
question for our next meeting. But obviously members of the Committee
did not exclude that finally, after giving time and after providing
technical assistance, there could be no other solution than to withdraw
this country from the list of the subscribers.
QUESTION: Is there much disagreement among the members on this
question, or is there consensus?
MR. MAYSTADT: I can say that there was a consensus on the fact that if you
subscribe to the special data dissemination standard--and we encourage
more and more members to subscribe--you have to fulfill your obligations.
There is a consensus on that.
By the way, the deadline of December 1998 applies only to this question of
the special data dissemination standard.
QUESTION: This is not your vision for banking regulation standards
MR. MAYSTADT: No. It will take more time.
QUESTION: What is the standard of administration in the developing
countries generally, do they have the ability to fulfill all the requirements
you're asking, for instance the data and also the regulation of all the banks
and all this, and will you be helping them to reach the standards if they
don't have it?
Secondly, if you're going to cooperate more and more with the World Bank,
will it lead eventually to the merger of the two institutions?
THE MANAGING DIRECTOR: I reiterate the statement I have made on other
occasions, namely that we have no intention at all to take over the World
Bank. We cooperate with the Bank, and more and more we are working in
domains which overlap somewhat--particularly so as regards the second
generation of reform--and our teams share more and more the same
concerns and work more and more on the same business. A propos of this, I
must tell you that this afternoon I suggested to members of the Interim
Committee that, in following up on the recent ESAF evaluation, we build
on the very constructive experience we had with the integrated approach
that was followed in designing and implementing the HIPC initiative. I
suggested that we should try to follow that pattern in giving a new boost
to our key instrument for helping the poor countries, which is the ESAF.
Now, on the data issue, it is true that in general the developing countries
are less advanced in the sophistication of their elaboration of data, and
availability and dissemination of them. But we are determined to assist
them, as needed, because it is part of our job, and I think it is one of the
best things we can do to help them manage their economies. We are doing
that, and we will never push a country to subscribe to data dissemination
information if we are not absolutely certain that the country is well
equipped to do it.
QUESTION: On page 6 when you talk about closer contacts with creditors,
have your thought through further how that would be taking place? Would
it be with organizations like the Institute of International Finance, would
it be bilateral, does it include hedge funds, mutual funds, not just
commercial banks? Under the liberalization of capital movements, when
you mention prudential and supervisory systems, does that include
prudential limits on access to borrowing in foreign currencies, or some
way to limit inflows into the developing countries?
THE MANAGING DIRECTOR: On our contacts with the private sector: if I
understand well the philosophy of the Interim Committee, we are invited
to establish contacts in a totally pragmatic way, case by case, according
to the circumstances, according to the problem we are handling, while
trying to be evenhanded in the dissemination of information, to avoid
giving privileged positions to the one or the other, and trying to establish
as much transparency as we can and a climate of mutual confidence and
mutual help. No special organization, no special procedure has been spelled
out. Rather, we are invited to explore the best way of doing all of this, and
we will doubtless learn by doing.
MR. MAYSTADT: On prudential systems, some members of the Committee
did indeed ask that consideration be given to the desirability of prudential
measures to cope with the risk associated with short-term capital flows.
Some members referred, in this context, to the lessons to be drawn from
the Chilean experience. Out of this emerged a request that the Executive
Board give more consideration to, and examine the desirability of, such
QUESTION: Nothing was decided?
MR. MAYSTADT: Nothing was decided.
QUESTION: One of the traditional characteristics of IMF programs has
always been that the credibility of the country involved should be restored
in the marketplace as soon as possible, but now you are putting forward
suggestions that creditors should, in fact, not be paid. In the past
creditors should be paid to achieve credibility. If creditors shouldn't be
paid or take a hit, or whatever the phraseology that is used, is that not a
contradiction here? How does the country achieve credibility in the
marketplace quickly if its creditors are going to suffer the kind of
difficulties that you propose they should suffer?
THE MANAGING DIRECTOR: I am afraid I don't understand your question
well, unless you are referring to the matter of lending into arrears. This
is not new. As you remember, it became part of the Fund's strategy in
April 1989, when we put in place our strategy for debt reduction and
debt-service reduction. At that time, the point was made that in
situations of protracted or difficult negotiations between private
creditors and our clients, the IMF should take the risk of lending into
arrears to help to speed up the recovery, and possibly also make easier the
development of the negotiation with the other debtors, provided that there
was agreement on a good program, that we were certain that the
negotiators were of good faith, and that we had adequate safeguards. This
was a strategy which was applied at that time, and successfully. The only
innovation here, if any, is that this lending into arrears strategy would
apply now to bondholders, which were not part of the clientele at that
QUESTION: Mr. Camdessus, I have only one key question, how to interpret
this meeting, because we have maybe a very big change in the sense that
now there is a new beginning in terms of including the private sector,
including the banks, and working closely with the Fund on all pertinent
areas. Now, going back a couple of months, I would like to get your
assessment because there was so much maybe very controversial
discussion about the big packages and bringing the banks too late into the
package. What is your assessment looking back? Did you have trouble
getting the banks on board in time, or was it the structure of today's, let's
say, creditor structure like the Bank's and the Fund's? Was it that factor,
because one of the arguments against the big packages was why not having
the banks right away, because now it is transparent, and I would like to
get your assessment on the burden sharing aspect, because the banks and
the other participants argue now that they, in terms of provisioning, have
had a lot of burden sharing like the Institute (of International Finance)
indicated in the letter to Mr. Maystadt. What is your assessment as to the
critical days when we had Korea? Did you have trouble getting the banks
on board in time?
THE MANAGING DIRECTOR: There are many elements in your question, but on
the last point of emphasis, namely how these big packages appeared and
how the banks were brought into the picture, let me tell you several
things. First, one of the difficulties in the case of Thailand, particularly
in the case of Korea, also in the case of Indonesia--at least in the case of
our first round of negotiations with Indonesia--is that the countries
invited us to negotiate a program with them truly at the last minute, and
we had only a few days for negotiating, as you say, a package. As soon as
we had the possibility, we of course suggested that the bank community
be put in the picture, particularly in the case of Korea, to invite them to
maintain and to roll over their short-term credits, even at a lower
interest rate than the market would have normally produced. We did that,
but it took some time to identify who were the bankers involved, and for
what amounts, and to bring them around the table. In the meantime we had
to help the country to avoid defaulting on its obligations. This is why for a
certain period of time we were alone with our financing there. In the case
of Thailand, in the week following the signing of our agreement, we had
the agreement of the bankers, to roll over their credits. In the case of
Korea, the amounts were much more important. The analytical work took
more time, and it took several weeks before the agreement of the banks
was put in place. The amounts of the financial flows in which Korea was
involved explain, of course, the size of the package that was needed, and
that finally has done the job in allowing this country to regain confidence
Now, you have mentioned the big packages and the discussions about the
big packages. Couldn't we do our job without this big package? We have
discussed that somewhat this morning, and we have reaffirmed that the
vocation of the Fund is as much as possible to be a catalytic factor, which
means that we should try to play our role without being the predominant
financing factor there. This continues to be our strategy. There are many
operations in which we are involved in crisis avoidance which are made
with almost no money, or with very small packages, or only through
systems of Fund monitoring programs, precautionary arrangements on
which finally there is no disbursement. For the full picture of what we are
doing, you shouldn't only have the three big packages in focus. You should
consider the entire activities of the Fund, and then our catalytic role
would be clear.
QUESTION: For the first time, I think, the Interim Committee raises the
question of the evaluation of ESAF. Does it mean that the Committee
recognized that ESAF has certain deficiencies? Moreover, it is written in
the communiqué that the evaluation provided important lessons. Can you
tell us briefly what are those lessons?
THE MANAGING DIRECTOR: Perhaps it is the first time the Committee
raised the question of the evaluation of the ESAF because the management
of the Fund had earlier decided to submit ESAF, after ten years of
existence, to two kinds of evaluation, an internal evaluation and an
evaluation by external and totally independent evaluators. Now, we have
the results of these evaluations, which are public. We want to draw the
lessons quickly, and I wanted to bring that to the attention of the Interim
Committee, because I see very important conclusions in the two
documents taken together.
One conclusion of the external evaluators, as you might have expected, is
that they see a fundamental importance in the ESAF as an instrument of
the Fund for dealing with the poorest countries; and tribute is paid to the
remarkable changes which have been permitted by the programs under
ESAF. But, at the same time, this evaluation has ratified several of the
observations we were making, namely that there is still insufficient
ownership of the programs by the countries. The countries still have a
tendency to say we do all of that because the IMF asks us--which, of
course, is bad for the sustainability of the efforts the country must
develop. There is also an insufficient perception of the potential of ESAF
for promoting social progress in the countries, not only for sheltering
those who suffer during the adjustment process, but also for promoting
human development more decisively.
There are also several others deficiencies which are mentioned. For
instance, the fact that some programs have not served to reduce inflation
rapidly enough--which is of particular relevance now that it is understood
that the countries which reduce inflation more rapidly are also those who
grow more rapidly later on. The evaluators also told us that the programs
could gain in quality if their design and follow-up were managed in a more
integrated fashion with the World Bank. And I was very happy to hear the
Interim Committee endorsing this appreciation and the suggestion made to
immediately review the whole architecture of the ESAF to try to respond
to this criticism in a way which would build on the very constructive
experience we have gained in working with the World Bank under our joint
HIPC initiative. I am also happy to report that my colleague, Mr.
Wolfensohn, has agreed that we could try to do that together, that the
World Bank could help us, in particular, with the analysis of the social
situation before the program and during the implementation of the
program, so as to help us focus even better on human development needs.
We will work on that during this summer, and I hope to be able to report
on the progress of this initiative on the occasion of the next meeting of
the Interim Committee.
MR. MAYSTADT: I can confirm that during this afternoon's discussion, the
main concern which was expressed was the fact that beneficiary
countries frequently feel a loss of control over the policy content and the
pace of implementation of the programs. So, we have elevated the question
of strengthening ownership, not only by the government, but by the society
as a whole, and to this end we think that we should encourage more
contacts with representatives of various groups in the society. This was
one of the main concerns expressed this afternoon. We think that is one of
the main lessons to be drawn from the evaluations of the ESAF.
IMF EXTERNAL RELATIONS DEPARTMENT