IFI governance


World Bank-IMF annual meetings 2011

26 September 2011

  1. Overview
  2. Agendas and background for papers for committee meetings – IMFC and Development Committee
  3. Highlights of official meetings and communiqués
  4. Highlights of civil society meetings, and other meetings and seminars

1. Overview

The 2011 annual meetings of the World Bank and IMF will take place from 21 to 26 September in Washington, DC. You will be able find links below to analysis of the communiqués as well as notes of some of the civil society and official meetings, as they become available.

The sovereign debt crisis in the eurozone looks set to dominate the annual meetings of the IMF and World Bank this year. With Spain and Italy facing increasing borrowing costs, the risk of a eurozone meltdown has increased (see Update 77). At the same time, the IMF programmes in Greece and Ireland are proving very controversial. The Greek programme particularly is proving difficult and the week in Washington will see a large discussion about the balance needed between haircuts for bondholders and austerity for ordinary citizens. The IMF will have to navigate carefully as Christine Lagarde, its new leader, is implicated in the design of the European loans to Greece and Ireland during her time as French finance minister. Bigger questions will be asked about the stance of the IMF overall as the global economy is seeing darker prospects ahead. The IMF has rhetorically supported job creation and growth boosting measures in the short-term with fiscal consolidation in the medium-term, but it has been accused of forcing short-term procyclical austerity packages in borrowing countries (see Update 77). The G20 meeting in Washington on Thursday is unlikely to come to any firm conclusions about the way forward given the constant tensions between G20 members.

At the World Bank, the official agenda will focus on gender, as the World Bank launched its biggest ever analytical work on gender issues on Monday in the form of the World Development Report 2012: Gender and Development. Pushed by a number of donor countries to do more work on gender, the Bank is conducting a public relations extravaganza on the subject, but not talking much publicly about its own policy approach (see Update 75). But not all is rosy with this agenda, as many women’s rights groups, NGOs, and trade unions start to pick apart the WDR, they are increasingly worried about the implications of the work. Concerns have highlighted inadequate attention to: the causes of gender pay gaps, women’s rights issues, social norms created by religion, the impact of fiscal austerity on women, the impact of climate change on women, and more. Moreover, the WDR is not designed to address the failings of past Bank practice in relation to gender (see Update 72, 71, 69). The WDR will be discussed at the Development Committee meeting, but the Bank’s implementation plan for turning any good conclusions from the WDR into change in Bank programmes, also to be discussed at the Development Committee, is still in its infancy.

The official Development Committee agenda also includes background papers on “a corporate scorecard” for the Bank and “moving jobs centre stage”. The corporate scorecard is an internal reform effort at changing how the Bank does handles its internal reporting and was launched earlier this year. It is supposed to “facilitate the strategic dialogue between the Board and Management on overall corporate performance, progress, issues, and direction.” The jobs paper is in response to both the growing global employment crisis and the role of youth unemployment in fomenting the Arab Spring uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa.

Notably missing from the official agenda of the Development Committee is a discussion of land issues and food prices. With many indices of food prices surpassing levels seen in the “food price crisis” of 2008, this will be a topic that is of fundamental concern to poor people throughout the world. It will feature on the agenda of the G20 finance and development ministers – as it is one of the three main topics (along with growth and infrastructure) that have emerged as priorities from the G20 development working group. The World Bank, for its part, has been roundly criticised for an overly market-based approach to land, being accused of promoting ‘land grabs’ (see Update 77, 76), and to food prices (see Update 77, 76, 74). Also missing from Development Committee discussion will be energy, where the new Bank strategy remains stalled due to a disagreement over the financing of coal-powered electricity (see Update 77, 76), and infrastructure, where the G20 is taking the lead but the Bank is hoping to scoop up extra resources (see Update 77).

Bretton Woods Project detailed analysis of the content of the communiqués for the BRICS, G24, G20, IMFC and Development Committee meetings is now available.

Ahead of the 2011 World Bank-IMF annual meetings, a meeting between UK NGOs, HM Treasury and the UK executive director to the IMF Alex Gibbs was held on 13 September. A meeting between UK NGOs, DFID and the UK executive director to the World Bank Susanna Moorehead took place on 18 August.

2. Agenda and background papers: International Monetary and Financial Committee (IMFC)

The agenda for the autumn 2011 International Monetary and Financial Committee meeting, scheduled for Saturday 24 September, is now on-line on the IMF’s website.

Agenda and background papers: Development Committee

The papers for the autumn 2011 Development Committee meeting, scheduled for Saturday 24 September, are now on-line on the World Bank’s website. They include the following:

3. Highlights of official meetings

We will bring you the highlights from the communiqués at the spring meetings – including the G24, G20, IMFC and Development Committee – as they happen.

21 – 26 September: Programme of seminars

22 September: BRICS statement (deeper analysis, original document).
Summary: The finance ministers of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa held a joint meeting before the G24 meeting on Thursday. These have not been regular events at the IMF annual meetings in the past, but have happened ad hoc, which may now change. They issued a statement after the meeting, but it is unavailable in full text online. News sources are quoting it as saying that the countries are “open to consider, if necessary, providing support through the IMF or other international financial institutions in order to address the present challenges to financial stability”.

22 September: G24 communiqué (deeper analysis, original document).
Summary: The G24 grouping of developing countries at the IMF and World Bank focussed their communiqué on global economic issues, while making reference to a number of development issues. They argued against fiscal austerity in rich countries and for policies that will support the fragile recovery and create jobs. On food they made a vague call for tackling the consequences of food price rises and commodity price volatility with no statement on the causes or specific measure they support. On energy they made a short statement on how they recognised the need for “profound structural changes” and on climate finance they called for rich countries to meet their commitments and pointed out gaps in the delivery of climate finance. As usual, they called for deeper governance reform of the IMF, but failed to comment on the stitched-up selection process that saw yet another European take the top job of the Fund in the summer.

22 September: G20 finance ministers’ communiqué (deeper analysis, original document).
Summary: The finance ministers and central bank governors of the G20 group of major economies issued a statement on Thursday evening on the 22 of September after a dinner meeting. This was unexpected, and was done to help counteract financial and currency market turmoil that had developed on Wednesday and Thursday as a result of the negative sentiments being expressed in a number of circles. The statement focuses on measures being taken in each region, with the aims of “supporting growth, implementing credible fiscal consolidation plans, and ensuring strong, sustainable and balanced growth.” In an ominous statement they said they were “commit[ed] to take all necessary actions to preserve the stability of banking systems and financial markets as required,” possibly heralding more bailouts of the banking systems, particularly in Europe.

23 September: G20 development ministers’ communiqué (deeper analysis, original document).
Summary: On Friday the G20 finance ministers met again in conjunction with the G20 development ministers to consider items on the G20’s development agenda. The meeting focussed on two main themes: food security and infrastructure, but had no new annoucements or initiatives. It welcomes the ongoing work by the G20 development working group and referenced things that were expected to be presented to G20 leaders at their summit in November. Brief mention was made of social protection, but the main missing agreement was on the implementation of a financial transaction tax. This was supported by billionaire Bill Gates in his report on financing for development, but the G20 ministers did not support this proposal as a whole.

24 September: IMFC communiqué (deeper analysis, original document).
Summary: The IMFC is the direction setting body for the IMF. Despite claiming that they “agreed to act decisively to tackle the dangers confronting the global economy”, the IMFC communiqué is devoid of specific actions or agreements, confirming the sense of drift that has pervaded the annual meetings this year. Adopting an approach of displaying perhaps unwarranted confidence in the face of rising economic crises, the text claims that “the advanced economies are at the core of an effective resolution of current global stresses.” The statement brings forward reviews of IMF crisis facilities and the adequacy of the IMF’s resources to combat a large crisis; and it also leaves open the space for further debate on how the IMF will advise countries on the imposition of capital controls.

24 September: Development Committee communiqué (deeper analysis, original document).
Summary: The Development Committee is the direction setting body for the World Bank. The Development Committee communiqué name-checks various critical issues, but is almost completely devoid of concrete agreements or actions. Job creation, economic instability, agriculture all get mentions, but no new proposals or agreements are detailed. Instead, the role of the private sector is highlighted several times, implying that solutions will need to be found outside of government action. For example while noting that “We must put agriculture and food security at the top of our development priorities,” the solution is “to harness the creativity and resources of the private sector.”

Please see our in-depth analysis of all the communiques with more information on the background to these positions and why they are important. The communiqués coverage will be updated throughout the meetings.

4. Highlights of civil society meetings and other seminars

For a listing of civil-society events, see the Bank Information Center website. The World Bank lists events taking place in the Bank’s Civil Society policy forum. We will be posting notes of meetings attended by Bretton Woods Project and partner organisation staff, so check back often for more details. Full listing of the offical Programme of Seminars (POS) is available on their website.

20 September

21 September

22 September

23 September

24 September

  • Alternative macroeconomic policies for the eurozone;
  • CSO debrief and strategy session

Return here for highlights of meetings hosted by civil society organisations from Bretton Woods Project staff in Washington.