BRETTON WOODS - ORIGINAL INTENTIONS AND CURRENT PROBLEMS
The Bretton Woods institutions have been subjected to a variety of criticisms in recent years and have been faced with severe problems in carrying out their objectives. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank have not performed in accordance with the original intentions of their founders. As shown in this article, this is in large measure because the world economic environment has been quite different from that envisaged by the participants in the Bretton Woods conference. Many of the original intended functions for these institutions are no longer relevant. This article examines the current problems facing the IMF and World Bank, with special attention to how they are related to the original intentions. For example, in recent years, a major problem has been the financial crises of member countries that have liberalized their economies in line with trends toward globalization. These crises have resulted in demands on the IMF and World Bank for financial assistance for purposes other than those for which their assistance was originally designed. Other problems of the two institutions include providing assistance to the world's poorest countries that have made virtually no development progress in recent years, and assisting the former communist countries in transition to market economies. The author gives his personal views on how these and other problems of the IMF and World Bank should be dealt with. Copyright 2000 Western Economic Association International.
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