Friday, June 5, 2009

Reforming the IMF

Much has been made of reforming the IMF to reflect current GDP size in the world economy. This would mean increasing China's voting percentage, and reducing Europe's and Japan's. However, with more votes comes the obligation to contribute more. And China is none to eager to do that as long as the United States has veto power, with 16.8 % of the vote, when only 15 % is needed to block major legislation.
Sun Lijian, dean of Fudan University's Economics School, said: "A meaningful reform should not only increase the voting power of developing nations, but also remove America's de facto veto power in the IMF.

"If the US continues to dominate IMF decisions, there will be little change in the international financial system."

For obvious reasons, this is extremely unlikely to happen. The U.S. is not in that weak of a position right now.

As for the Eurozone, they have a de facto veto, with Germany, Italy, France, and Belgium making up 16 % of the vote . Throw in the Netherlands and it's 18.4 %, and add Spain and it's 19.8 %.

So the Eurozone has some room to give, and still maintain its relative power.

Within China, there is some debate as to the necessity of contributing more , given its low per capita income.
Liu Jing, associate dean of Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business, is not convinced that China needs a substantially bigger role in the IMF.

"It could be difficult for China to make a major increase in its contribution to the IMF. It may be better for the nation to spend its foreign exchange reserves on its own economic development, given its low per capita GDP and status as a developing nation."

For now, the United States and Europe seem to view China as a lever to use against each other, rather than a potential equal partner. One could see them agreeing to up China's vote total, but not at the expense of their own ability to veto legislation. Meanwhile, China would be required to contribute more money for essentially the same role. These negotiations require delicate balancing and could easily collapse.

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