Reform of the International Institutions
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Reform of the International Institutions

The IMF, World Bank and the WTO

Peter Coffey and Robert J. Riley

The seemingly endless problems encountered by the IMF, WTO and World Bank provide major reasons for seeking reform. However, an additional impetus is the changing balance of economic power in the world. The volume begins with an overview of the Bretton Woods and international trading systems. Following this are discrete, in-depth discussions of the three institutions from American and European points of view. The authors emphasise the need for making the IMF and World Bank more regional in structure and, like the European Bank, more frugal in the lifestyles of their officials. Similarly, they call for a narrower focus in the mission of the World Bank and the IMF. In the case of the WTO, they call for a democratic reform of the organisation comprising participation by experts and, above all, better representation and support for Third World countries.
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Appendix 1: Extract from Peter Coffey (1974), The World Monetary Crisis

Peter Coffey and Robert J. Riley


THE BRETTON WOODS SYSTEM Two fundamental facts dominate any consideration of the Bretton Woods system. First is the fact of the overpowering strength, in 1944, of the United States economy. This fact was amply demonstrated on the one hand by the adoption by America of the gold exchange standard,1 and, on the other hand, by the use of the dollar as a currency of intervention. In turn, this economic strength meant that only a plan for international monetary co-operation that received America’s support stood any chance of being adopted – hence the adoption of the White Plan rather than the proposals put forward by Keynes. The important second fact which should not be ignored is that the Bretton Woods system was incomplete. Originally, it was intended to create three world organisations, a clearing union, an investment bank and a world trading organisation. Unfortunately, only the first two organisations were created. From the outset, this insufficiency created a basic gap in the system which has not yet been filled. THE KEYNES AND WHITE PLANS The two plans, the Keynes Plan and the White Plan, because of the vision exhibited in the former and the reality shown by the latter, are worthy of our attention. Regarding one point, both plans were the same – they were concerned exclusively with current account disequilibria. In this respect, they differ fundamentally from SDRs, which may be used both for current and capital account disequilibria. This is really a very important point which appears to have escaped...

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