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Most Important Function Of The International Monetary Fund Finance Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Finance
Wordcount: 1630 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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As Mussa says “In official discussions of the role of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), especially at meetings of the IMF Executive Board and of the ministerial-level International Monetary and finance Committee, it is often observed that “surveillance” is the IMF’s most important function”. [1] 

Evidence on the importance of this function is what I quote from the literature of Murilo Portugal who points out that: “One of the main purposes of the IMF is to promote international cooperation on monetary and financial affairs, being the machinery for consultation and collaboration on these issues. However, of all IMF functions this is the one that is least developed. This function is currently performed by means of exercises of multilateral surveillance of global economic and financial conditions. Two major reports are prepared twice a year for that purpose, the World Economic Outlook and the Global Financial Stability Report. These reports are discussed by the Executive Board and later taken up by the IMFC, both of which make generic exhortations to certain countries or group of countries to pursue policies that are considered appropriate from their own perspective, but that are also required from a global point of view. There is, however, a clear need to enhance the effectiveness of multilateral surveillance”. [2] 

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Mr Lars Heikensten said the following on surveillance: “The IMF’s key instrument for reaching its overall objective should be its preventive activities, which are primarily carried out within the scope of its surveillance function. The IMF’s primarily role is not to treat illnesses but to prevent them from breaking out. Much can be done to bolster the IMF’s surveillance function, both as regards individual countries but also, to an increasing extent, by way of a stronger regional and global focus. This change in emphasis can, among other things, be motivated by the fact that globalisation and increased integration has resulted in a situation where more and more countries’ national policies give rise to externalities. A strong ‘multilateral’ surveillance function could contribute, more clearly than today, to creating a broad international discussion of global imbalances, incorrectly valued exchange rates, etc., which generate risks to stability both in individual countries and in the international financial system as a whole.

In this context, it is crucial that the member countries accept and support the role that has been given to the IMF, including taking seriously its advice and recommendations. We are often more keen to underline the importance of the IMF’s surveillance function for other countries than we are to be guided by the IMF’s analyses of our own countries. This is not beneficial for the IMF’s credibility.” [3] 

For more several reasons, one of them is that we are now living the globalization era and as I cite from the IMF official website that “In today’s globalized economy, where the economic and financial policies of one country may spill over to affect many other countries, international cooperation on a global scale to monitor and influence economic developments is essential. With its nearly universal membership of 185 countries, IMF surveillance provides the mechanism for this cooperation. Effective surveillance contributes to a stable international monetary system that sustains sound economic growth through the following mutually-reinforcing processes: multilateral surveillance, or oversight of the world economy; and bilateral surveillance which comprises appraisal of and advice on the policies of each individual member country to promote external and domestic stability (including growth); analysis of cross country spillovers; and sharing of the aggregate experience of 185 members.” [4] 

Another reason is that the supervision of fiscal transparency or supervision of monetary and financial transparency goes under, acts and interacts with the function of surveillance which monitors the policies chosen by the governments and the central banks of the member families and the.

The “Fiscal transparency entails being open to the public about the structure and functions of government that determine fiscal policies and outcomes, and the past, present, and future fiscal activities of government. Such transparency fosters better-informed public debate, as well as greater government accountability and credibility”. [5] 

And the transparency of the “Monetary and financial policies can be more effective if their objectives, rationale, and methods of implementation are communicated to the public in a clear and timely manner. Such transparency by central banks and financial agencies responsible for supervision and regulation of financial institutions and markets can also foster more informed market expectations, and greater public accountability”. [6] 

Another reason is that the IMF will not start the process of lending unless it has the information about the member country that has the need, so the lending process comes after the process of surveillance.

“When its member countries experience balance of payments (BOP) difficulties, either through capital account or current account crises, the IMF can make loans designed to help them stabilize their international payments situation and adopt policy changes sufficient to reverse their situation and overcome their problems. In some cases, the IMF makes short-term loans to help prevent countries’ economies from spiraling into financial crisis and to facilitate renewed inflows of private sector capital.” [7] 

And even there are a lot of critics on the IMF that it is giving a lot of long term loans which should be the role of the World Bank or other big market lenders as the World Bank has the better experience, competence, the ability and the support from the member countries to perform long term loans.

As Dr Rosa emphasised “It also argues that the main role of the IMF should increasingly delegate the role of long-term lending for structural purposes to the World Bank”. [8] 

And she continues “It is the World Bank, however, that has the staff and the technical expertise to develop and cost sectoral strategies together with client countries. The IMF, therefore, should work closely with the World Bank to ensure that the macroeconomic frameworks of client countries reflect the financing needs of their poverty-reduction strategies. Achieving this result will entail much-improved coordination in-country between statistical agencies, line ministries, finance ministries, and central banks and, in Washington, between the IMF and the World Bank”. [9] 

Then to add that how important the function of surveillance the IMF Executive board decided to update and enhance this function by approving its new frame work.

On a Statement by IMF Managing Director Rodrigo de Rato on IMF Executive Board Decision to Approve New Framework for Surveillance I get this quote:

“The change we are making is the first major revision in the surveillance framework in some 30 years, and it is the first ever comprehensive policy statement on surveillance. The new decision reflects current best practice in our work of monitoring members’ exchange rate policies and domestic economic policies. It reaffirms that surveillance should be focused on our core mandate, namely promoting countries’ external stability. And it gives clear guidance to our members on how they should run their exchange rate policies, on what is acceptable to the international community, and what is not”. [10] 

The IMF should use the tools it has of bilateral and multilateral surveillance all the way through to encourage financial stability by making analysis for the day to day work with the members and by making these info available for all financial actors in addition to policy makers and market participants. [11] 

For all of that I think that the most important function of the IMF is surveillance and what it needs is more support from the member countries and from the IMF in implanting its policies for the better function of the economical structures of the countries in the open global economic world of today.


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