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IFI governance


World Bank-IMF annual meetings 2008

12 October 2008

This page is being updated regularly. Check back for more news about the events inside and around the annual meetings 2008. A meeting between UK NGOs and the DFID Secretary of State, Douglas Alexander, was held on September 30.

  1. Overview
  2. World Development Report 2009: Reshaping Economic Geography
  3. Agendas and background for papers for committee meetings
  4. Highlights of civil society meetings
  5. Highlights of official meetings and communiqués

1. Overview: Financial crisis reigns supreme

With the events in the financial world of the past two weeks topping headlines, it is little surprise that the WB/IMF annual meetings have been dominated by the financial crisis and events in the banking sector. That leaves little room for discussions about development and low-income countries, let alone the thorny subject of climate change.

A discussion of the global economy and financial markets usually is the first item on the agenda of the International Monetary and Financial Committee (IMFC), but most expect it really to be the only item of discussion all weekend. The IMFC is a committee of 24 finance ministers or central bank governors from around the world and is generally seen as setting the policy direction and providing advice to the IMF. This year’s IMFC meeting and communiqué is a bit of a crap shoot. Usually the country with the IMFC chairmanship organises a deputies meeting about a week in advance of the IMF annual meetings. This gives the ministers’ senior staff a chance to debate the issues and come up with a draft of the communiqué. But the IMFC was chairless until late last week, and it was unclear as of writing whether a deputies meeting will actually happen.

That likely makes the outcome of the meeting even more dependent than usual on the communiqués of the G24 and G7 finance ministers who are meeting on Friday. Financial markets are looking to the G7 statement for signs of coordinated government response to the financial crisis. The question is as yet unanswered as to whether the G24 (a group of developing countries and emerging markets) will be able to make an impact on global management of the financial crisis. Many academics and commentators have called for better integration of emerging markets into discussions on global financial markets. And people have been raising the subject of a global financial regulation with a international regulatory authority. That is a big step, and one that might be realised with renewed calls from a host of countries, including the Commonwealth heads of state, for a so-called Bretton Woods 2, an international conference of countries to refashion the international financial architecture and remake international institutions.

BWP will bring you analysis of the content of the communiqués and the story behind the positions as they become available. Currently out: G24 communiqué, G7 plan of action, IMFC communiqué, Development Committee communiqué.

2. World Development Report 2009: Reshaping Economic Geography

After a highly controversial report on agriculture last year, this year’s World Development Report (WDR) might not turn many heads. It is the fuzzy concept of “economic geography”, covering a vast array of economic and development concepts including migration, urbanisation international trade, transport, capital movements, and other related concepts. It presents the possibility of reconnecting with some of the issues brought up in the WDR 2006 on inequality, for which follow-up has been scanty and inconsistent. But it may be one of the least contested or consulted upon WDRs in a long time – the Bank presented preliminary findings in only 3 locations (France, Tanzania, and Cote D’Ivoire). And despite a promise for a discussion draft to be posted in June 2008, nothing more than the November 2007 outline was ever made available on the World Bank’s website.

3. Agenda and background papers: Development Committee

On the agenda for the Development Committee is:

  • The World Bank’s strategy for climate change;
  • The food and fuel price crises;
  • Reform of the Bank’s governance (aka “voice and participation”); and
  • Use of World Bank capital.

The background papers were exceptionally late this year, only appearing on the website after the development committee meeting had finished.

Development and Climate Change: A Strategic Framework for the World Bank Group – This paper has been analysed in Bretton Woods Update 62. The 1 sentence snapshot: a great piece of rhetoric covering just about everything you could ever think of, but what will the Bank actually do? See: