Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Bretton Woods Committee Annual Meeting Summary

The Bretton Woods Committee held its annual meeting this past week and has posted a summary here. I will have an indepth review of the Paul Volcker keynote address for this meeting tomorrow. I think Volcker left us some key hints about the timing of where things stand in his speech.

I will have more to say about this tomorrow, but it seems evident that things have bogged down in terms of the IMF moving forward to become a major player in re-shaping the international monetary system. 

Sen. John McCain spoke and was disappointed the IMF reforms were not passed.

"McCain called for stronger Executive leadership on international economic issues – in particular regional trade agreements – and expressed disappointment that Congress did not pass the IMF quota reform legislation earlier this year, blocking the Fund’s efforts to reform its governance and undermining its legitimacy."

Mohamed El-Erian (formerly of PIMCO) spoke and was clearly let down at how the world is moving further apart rather than closer together. 

"Mohamed El-Erian spoke about shifting global economic trends and their implications and risks. He raised concerns about the structural issues of high unemployment and inequalities across the world to warn that we are missing the opportunity to prepare a better future. He noted that at a time when we need multilateralism and strong U.S. global leadership the most, we have the least: “We have come from a world of ‘Gs’ (e.g. G-7, G-8, G-20) to a world of G-0,” he said. He commented on the incredulity among other countries caused by America’s failure to pass the IMF quota reform legislation, but concluded that the United States should not be the only country to be blamed for the current IMF status quo because European countries are also not willing to give up their current position."

This was the recurring theme of the meeting. Disappointment and frustration that things are stalled and global cooperation seems to be breaking down. I will cover this more in depth and also tie in all the recent elections in the EU. Several things happening right now are moving away from global cooperation and towards self interest by nations and regions. 

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