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Often times, the world has suffered terrible financial crises. The most severe being the 2007-2008 global financial crisis. Every time, a financial crisis has struck, economic policy makers meet in a conference like they did in 1944 in Bretton Woods conference (Hellener, 2010, p. 1).
However, the crisis has been recurrent regardless of the many policies that have been formulated. The failure of the policies in implementation has more often been blamed on policy mistakes made by developing world where the crisis emerges from (Hellener, 2010, p. 10).
Out of this, the solution in 1980s was perceived could originate from loaning the developing countries. International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank were given the role of protecting global market from sovereign defaults and promote the adjustment programs in developing countries (Hellener, 2010, p. 9). This paper will seek to evaluate the effects of IMF and World Bank in the developing countries.
IMF and World Bank effects on Developed and Developing Countries
Both IMF and World Bank definitions of developed and developing counties are based on either high or low capital incomes which in turn depict the degree of interaction into the global financial system. Their definitions have created an aspect of losers and winners (Esty, 2002, p. 2) where the developed countries are the winners, and the developing countries are the losers.
The developing world has been placed in a losing position; most often than not, they are in need of support as they do not meet the set standards of the definition. It has always been an unfair judgment as the benefits of global trade may not be fairly distributed because not in all countries people are able to access free trade and fair economic growth (Esty, 2002, p. 3).
Therefore, the developing countries are the ones who have been utilizing the policy set in Bretton Woods conference of borrowing, and thereby, giving IMF and World Bank a great chance of influence as policy enforcers.
The influence of IMF and World Bank has greatly “contributed to the strengthening of the macroeconomic framework of member countries, reducing the public sector deficits and public debt accumulation, improving monetary control and reducing the distortions and dislocation of resources brought about by high rates of inflation” (Buira, 2003, p. 1).
This has set the developing countries at a vulnerable position where they are the ones always borrowing money from the developed countries in order to pull up their economies. The capital flow ceases to be from the developed to the developing as the developing repays the loan. Most countries, for instance, have tried to use the “theory of the second best” but have been greatly opposed by IMF.
The theory works when a country in a crisis through government intervention improves its welfare by the introduction of another country that is performing better economically (Buira, 2003, p. 1). This move was criticized by IMF even after Asia blaming the crisis on the speculative global financial flows (Hellener, 2010, p. 10). With such a kind of interference, Asia was not in a position to fill up the economic gap that was there hence the reason for its continued deterioration in the economy.
The idea of “market mechanism” developed in both IMF and World Bank operations have posed a very bad inequality problem for the countries that participate in the global financial markets. This is because, for a country to be considered as developed or developing there are factors like locality, population, and available resources that need to be considered.
For example, it will be unfair to judge a country that does not participate in international trade for lack of resources to a country that has oil, gold and other minerals, which facilitate the same. There is, therefore, a global inequality as 20% of the world population takes 80% of the global resources while the rest is shared the remaining 20% of the world population. No wonder the gap between the 80% of the population that lacks even the basic amenities gets (Danaher, 2001, p. 25).
However, time has revealed the hidden tricks played on developing countries. For example, in 2007-2008 during global financial crisis, China by market capitalization remained the only one that had the three largest banks.
This exposed the U.S., having been one of the countries considered to be developed dependent on foreign support from China and elsewhere (Hellener, 2010, p. 11). This makes it illegitimate to consider US and Britain as having more economic power than China.
There is a call to policy makers and financial analysts to question the stability of the developed countries without the support of the developing countries. The cited example proved that financial flow is from the under developed to the developed world which leaves the developing world with more needs than the developed world yet they contribute a lot to the global economy.
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The policies of IMF and World Bank to rely on market solutions and international trade have been challenged with time. A country’s economic power cannot be categorized by what the market produces as the market only achieves certain goals.
This has caused its fault in evaluating the market failures that cause limited resource circulation in the developing countries (Buira, 2003, p. 3). For example, in a continent like Africa with a stable local economy had not suffered a financial crisis before the global trade came in. Everything was traded locally and there was no lack.
One did not need to have money as the mode of trade was barter trade. Global trade has brought everything to tumble as the currency stability cannot be predicted. The U.S. dollar being the standard global currency keeps on fluctuating in value hence affecting the countries whose currencies are weaker than the dollar.
This causes a great inequality where the market favors those with money as they make more money from the people who do not have. To sum up, the poor get poorer and the rich get richer, finally making it difficult for the gap to be bridged (Danaher, 2001, p. 32).
World Bank and the IMF are the most powerful enforcers of growth and a system of measurement that hides the social and environmental cost of market-led growth. Any eminent change from them will flow down to every other person and foster economic progress (Danaher, 2001, p. 32).
To regain their position to the public that has lost trust in them as economic leaders, they will be needed to start by correcting the mistakes they have done in setting unrealistic policies, which at the end get challenged every time there is a crisis. They also need to get back to the public where they, together with the public, will look for solutions that will operate at all times without subjecting any given country to any more financial risk.
From the discussion, it is evident that IMF and World Bank have contributed greatly to the widening of the gap between the developed and the developing counties. This comes about from their definition of the two, creating a superiority factor whereby, and countries with highest global finance interaction are being considered as developed.
The consideration has created financial inequality where the developed countries, which have the least population, enjoy the biggest share of the global economy while the rest remains to share the remainder. The results of this are that the rich countries continue becoming richer, and the poor countries get poorer.
However, this has been challenged as it was analyzed in 2007-2008 that the developed countries actually depend on the developing counties. There is, therefore, a need for the World Bank and IMF to revise their policies and get back to re-establishing the developing countries’ economy. They should device a way where the resources in the developing countries will remain with them to help them further in development.
Buira, A 2003, Challenges to the World Bank and IMF: developing country perspective, Wimbledon Publishing Company, London.
Danaher, K 2001, 10 Reasons to Abolish The IMF and World Bank, Seven Stories Press, Washington, D. C.
Esty, D 2002, ‘The World Trade Organization’s legitimacy crisis’, World Trade Review, vol. 1, no. 1, pp. 7–22.
Hellener, E 2010, ‘A Bretton Woods Moment? The 2007-2008 crisis and the future of global finance’, International Affairs, vol. 86, no. 3, pp. 619–636.