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The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank: It's Time to Separate the Conjoined Twins

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Publication Date: September 2008

Publisher(s): Brookings Institution

Author(s): Lex Rieffel

Topic: Banking and finance (International banking and finance)
Economics (Economic relations)

Keywords: World Bank; global economics; IMF; global governance


The IMF and the World Bank were created in 1944 to be at the center of the international financial system, but they have not adapted well to the far-reaching changes in the global economy over the past twenty years. Their legitimacy has been called into question due to their antiquated governance structures, and as a consequence they are losing relevance and effectiveness.

If the IMF and World Bank did not exist today, we would create them to address global threats such as financial instability and weak states. But we would create them in different forms and not locate both in Washington.

The United States is the principal obstacle to re-positioning these two vital institutions to achieve their potential and be valued by all members. An initiative by the next President to rescue the IMF and World Bank could be one of the least costly and most convincing elements of a foreign policy designed to move the United States from being the sole military superpower to being a trusted global partner.


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