Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A new Bretton Woods?

As a quick p.s. to my last post, I wanted to flag a post by Julian Ku over at Opinio Juris in which he suggests that we should not expect - as some leaders such as Brown and Sarkozy are suggesting - that the G-2) meeting in Washington on November 15th will lead to a complete restructuring of the world financial system - to a "new Bretton Woods". His view is that the IMF and the WTO have fared rather badly since their inception; that the successes of the WTO cannot be attributed to Bretton Woods; and that, in any event, although "no doubt global cooperation is needed..., new international institutions are a highly doubtful mechanism for such cooperation".

Unfortunately, Ku does not consider the - eminently more likely - possibility of a fairly radical reform of existing institutions, which seems to be more along the lines of what Brown at least is proposing. The Telegraph notes that

It is understood that the Prime Minister wishes to see the IMF reformed to become a "global central bank" closely monitoring the international economy and financial system. There may also be global rules to prevent conflicts of interest and to boost transparency in the financial system.

Just a case of waiting-and-seeing for the time being, then; although it is worth recalling that Brown has received some fairly strong plaudits - notably in the US - for his handling of the financial crisis thus far...

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