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Getting to the Seoul of the Matter: Moving beyond currency disputes

Shahrokh Fardoust's picture
Photo: www.istockphoto.com

(Also available in Spanish)

Many observers predict that this week’s G-20 Summit in Seoul will be remembered mainly as a dance of high diplomacy aimed at persuading members to refrain from competitive devaluation of currencies and to reign in excessive current account imbalances.

If most headlines from Seoul are about spats over currencies and whose deficit or surplus is most harmful, then leaders  will have missed the Seoul of the Matter.

Indeed, such an outcome would be a setback for developing countries and could potentially erode the legitimacy of the G-20 as an inclusive broker of financial and economic cooperation in the global economy.

Reforming Global Finance: What is the G20 Missing?

Franklin Allen's picture

Editor's Note: Professor Franklin Allen came to the World Bank on October 27 to give an FPD Chief Economist Talk on the topic of Reforming Global Finance: What is the G20 Missing? Please see the FPD Chief Economist Talk page to download a copy of his presentation and watch a video of his Talk.

The recent financial crisis clearly had more than one cause. My view is that the most important one was a bubble in real estate prices, not only in the US but also in a number of other countries such as Spain and Ireland. It was the bursting of this bubble that has led to so many problems in the world economy. A significant part of this is a direct effect on the real economy rather than an effect transmitted through the financial system. For example, Spain had one of the best regulated banking systems and its banks did much better than in other countries. Yet with a doubling of its unemployment rate to 20 percent, its real economy has been devastated. In contrast countries like Germany that did not have a real estate bubble but had much larger drops in GDP have not suffered nearly as much. Germany's unemployment rate is now lower than at the start of the crisis.

A role for the G20 in aid for trade?

John Wilson's picture
Port of Rades, Tunisia. Photo: © Dana Smillie / World Bank

As the G20 looks to establish itself as a permanent fixture in the multilateral policy dialogue, it should consider the global aid-for-trade agenda a top priority. The Summit in Seoul next month presents a unique opportunity to take concrete action in new directions on aid for trade.

The G20 originated – in part – as a global financial crisis management forum, and expanded out of the G8, in the wake of the 2008 world economic crisis. The Group has gained momentum and is solidifying its unique position as the most influential decision making group on global economic stability and growth. As it looks to solidify its transition as a global “steering committee” to sustain sound global growth what better policy issue to champion than one that is high profile, critical to both developed and developing countries, and in need of more effective global coordination -- than aid for trade?  

Bank Group receives support for more funds, expanded ‘voice’

Angie Gentile's picture

October 5, 2009 - World Bank/IMF Annual Meetings Istanbul, Turkey. Press Briefing. World Bank President Robert B. Zoellick. Photo credit: Simone D. McCourtie/World BankThe joint World Bank-IMF advisory body, known as the Development Committee, committed to the G20’s call for more resources for the Bank to help developing countries respond to the global economic crisis.

Concluding its first day of talks on the Bank’s work and impact at the 2009 annual meetings, the committee expressed support for a general capital increase, a multibillion multilateral food trust fund, and a new crisis facility for the world’s 79 poorest countries.

The Development Committee also agreed to “voice” reform to ensure developing countries get a bigger say in how the institution is run—an increase of at least 3 percentage points in voting power, in addition to the 1.46 percent already agreed. This would give them a share next year of at least 47 percent.

In a statement issued Monday, the Development Committee set a definite decision point for shareholders for Spring 2010 on IBRD and IFC capital needs and “committed to ensure that the World Bank Group has sufficient resources to meet future development challenges.”

The committee noted the Bank’s “vigorous response” to the crisis, including a tripling of IBRD commitments to $33 billion this year and IDA reaching a historic level of $14 billion. They also said that IFC, which has invested $10.5 billion and mobilized an additional $4 billion through new initiatives, “combined strong innovation with effective resource mobilization.”

Taking the temperature of the financial world

James Bond's picture

Global attention is mounting about this year's Annual Meetings of the Bank and the Fund in Turkey. From Egypt, where I am on MIGA business on my way to Turkey, the discussion is around whether the meetings will advance the G20 communiqué in terms of substance and specific implementation measures.

Traffic in Instanbul, Turkey. Photo: Simone D. McCourtie / World Bank I spent two days earlier in the week with global private equity investors. Their anxiety mostly revolves around how financial sector regulation will evolve over the coming months. They feel the cold wind of oversight, and the discussion revolves around two competing plans for financial regulation, one emanating from Brussels and the other from Washington. But everyone accepts that an overhaul of financial sector regulation is the unfinished business from last year's financial crisis, even though views differ on the extent and content of the changes needed. My own concerns are whether the world's piecemeal international governance system will enable a coherent global regulatory structure to emerge from the wreckage of last year's financial meltdown.

In Istanbul I'm looking forward to taking the temperature of the financial world. I hope and expect the meetings to be more subdued than in past years, because we have some serious business to do; and many players who were around at the Singapore meetings are no longer with us (Lehman, Bear Stearns, Merrill, AIG...).

It's a new world.

Regional Finance Roundup: Is East Asia leading the world out of the crisis?

James Seward's picture

Given that Asia is now widely seen as leading the world out of the crisis, it is fitting that the role of Asia was more prominently recognized in the global economic system in the recent G20 meeting held in Pittsburgh.  Since we last looked in July, the outlook for the emerging markets of East Asia has continued to brighten.  The latest regional forecasts come from the Asian Development Bank in its Asian Development Outlook (pdf) published last week.  It points to “the rapid turnaround in [Asia’s] largest, less export-dependent economies” and predicts that “the regional economy is now poised to achieve a V-shaped rebound.”  These are very positive words indeed!  As the graph below shows, the ADB has in fact upgraded its growth forecasts for a number of economies for 2009.

Although the signs are pointing upwards, performance is still mixed in a number of key areas.


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