Ideas to Action:

Independent research for global prosperity

I am pleased to announce the launch of the CGD’s Bretton Woods Non-Commission on Governance Reform of the IMF and the World Bank.  The possibility and the options for deep reform of these institutions are greater today than ever. Ironically, this is thanks to the oncoming global economic crisis, which has exposed the limits of their financing, legitimacy and relevance in the 21st century interconnected global economy.

The IMF and the World Bank have both announced new commissions to offer recommendations on how they can reform their embarrassingly outmoded mid-twentieth century governance. Both are led by experienced and capable individuals, the IMF commission by Trevor Manuel and the World Bank commission by Ernesto Zedillo.

The task of our Non-Commission is to help invigorate this process by providing fresh and perhaps even revolutionary ideas for changing how these important institutions are run—specifically who decides what they do and how they do it. Our Non-Commission will not meet; and our ideas will not be massaged into a consensus document.

I am pleased to serve as the (self-appointed) chair.  Current Non-Commission members are listed to the right of this post. Each has agreed to send at least one commentary on why and how the World Bank and the IMF should reform their governance – or on a related issue of global economic governance.  Other members are welcome – you can become a member of the Non-Commission by submitting an Op-Ed like commentary that we decide to post.  Of course comments on others’ posts welcome from all.

Though there will be no consensus document, I will review all the postings and offer occasional Remarks from the Chair including a rough summary at the close of the Non-Commission period.  I anticipate that will be sometime after the Spring Meetings of the IMF and World Bank in late April, or after the reports of the two commissions are completed.

I am launching the Non-Commission with three pieces:

  1. Edwin Truman among other ideas proposes taking away the effective U.S. veto at the IMF (and calls on the NGO community to “stop urging member governments to tear down the IMF” (but see the recent Jubileee statement on the crisis).
  2. Domenico Lombardi invokes the discussion of the most senior and influential statesmen of the day at Bretton Woods New Hampshire in 1944 as background to decry today’s increasing bureaucratization of decision-making at the institutions founded more than 60 years ago.
  3. And Vijaya Ramachandran reaches back to basics calling for an entirely different approach to what member countries in the first place ought to be running the world (and also effectively steering the IMF and the World Bank).

Readers of this site will also want to review the recent report of the Bretton Woods Committee (a Washington-based member organization that advocates for U.S. and other support for the IMF and World Bank) entitled Advancing the Reform Agenda Recommendations to the G-20 On International Financial Institution Reform.  The Committee is currently soliciting its members to sign on.

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CGD blog posts reflect the views of the authors, drawing on prior research and experience in their areas of expertise. CGD is a nonpartisan, independent organization and does not take institutional positions.