elerian118_ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDSAFP via Getty Images_imflogoconference Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

How the IMF Can Battle Gradual Irrelevance

These days, the International Monetary Fund’s policy recommendations – especially as they pertain to the advanced economies – have little impact. Although this is partly a consequence of more inward-looking national politics in richer countries, the Fund itself is not blameless.

NEW YORK – This year, I didn’t attend the October annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank in Washington, DC. Instead, I paid close attention to reports of the gathering and talked to people who were there whom I respect. What emerged is depressing for the wellbeing of the global economy. In particular, the prospect of continued weakness and fragmentation pressures will compound the challenges to the credibility and effectiveness of multilateral institutions.

The convening power of the IMF and the World Bank is unquestionably strong, if not unique. Every year, their annual meetings attract top economic and financial officials from more than 180 countries, as well as a far larger number of private-sector representatives. It’s an exceptional global gathering, not only for officials to exchange views but also for corporate networking.

Over the last few years, the official meetings have increasingly been overshadowed by the ever-growing number of parallel events, notably diminishing the gathering’s contribution to better policymaking. In fact, this year, I couldn’t find a single person who had paid much attention to a key policy output of the meetings – the communiqués issued by the two institutions’ top policymaking committees.

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