David Woodward on the need for democratic principles at the IMF

IMF watchers have been following the drama of the selection process, Ministers are getting ready to decide which way to cast their vote, the pundits are ready to comment, but what about the other 6 billion + people who will be at the sharp end of decisions made by the new MD?  In a response to the Guardian’s poll, long-time IMF campaigner David Woodward makes a compelling case for real democratic principles to be placed at the heart of the selection process.  It’s worth quoting at length:

“…the only alternative [the Guardian poll] presents to the status quo is reform to “reflect the shift in global economic power towards emerging markets”.

As the Commission on Social Determinants of Health said,

“It is only through such a system of global governance, placing fairness in health at the heart of the development agenda and genuine equality of influence at the heart of its decision-making, that coherent attention to global health equity is possible.”

Nowhere is this more true than the IMF: it has virtually run the economies of much of the developing world (with serious adverse effects on health) for much of the last 30-35 years, while itself being run by the developed country governments, who have some 60% of the votes – four times their share either of population or of membership. The US, and the US alone, has a veto on all major policy decisions – including voting reform. The voting system was created in 1944, when only a handful of developing countries were members (most still being under colonial rule), they rarely borrowed from the Fund, and IMF lending did not carry any policy conditionality. Continue reading “David Woodward on the need for democratic principles at the IMF”


Yes, its the process! It is also the IMF’s policies

Thanks to Nancy Birdsall at Center for Global Development in Washington for expressing things with characteristic American forthrightness: “IMF Leader Selection: It’s the Process, Stupid”. She references the Heading for the right choice? briefing paper published by over 20 NGOs in April, and asks “Would [Lagarde] not seem to be biased even if she wasn’t – beholden to Sarkozy and Merkel generating immoral hazard for the IMF (or the euro or Greece. . . )?  Won’t she represent, whether she wants to or not, the stench of colonialism wafting around the IMF?” Indeed.

Continue reading “Yes, its the process! It is also the IMF’s policies”

More nods in Lagarde’s direction – the persistance of Brown? – and the need for an apolitical leader

John Lipsky, interim MD of the Fund, is selectively quoted by the BBC as offering Christine Lagarde as “an excellent choice” for the job. They fished true, but he did his best to dodge the bait. It’s not that he didn’t say that but as one would expect, he chose his words carefully – “I have the very highest regard for Ms Lagarde and I’m sure like many other candidates she would be an excellent choice”.

There line being spun is that the right choice of IMF head is crucial for the future of Europe. Here our some thoughts on why the voice of other regions, namely Africa, should not be drowned out.

He also gave some insight into the process, stating that the executive board would meet this week to establish and agree on the process and mechanism – if he wants reminding of how this might look he’d do well to look here (skip to point 5).

Continue reading “More nods in Lagarde’s direction – the persistance of Brown? – and the need for an apolitical leader”

Heading for the right choice? A professional approach to selecting the IMF boss

An April report from 21 civil society organisations calls for the reform of the process for selecting the International Monetary Fund’s managing director. The paper asks for an end to the ‘gentlemen’s agreement’ that gives the US the choice of the World Bank head and European governments that of the IMF. Wishing to see instead a transparent, fair, merit-based process focussed on selecting the best candidate available; whilst ensuring the legitimacy gained from the backing of a majority of countries as well as IMF voting shares.

Read the full report here