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Reforming the IMF: One Order of Magnitude

by John Brian Shannon | April 10, 2016

Recently, it has been posited that the IMF needs structural reforms to make it more responsive to the needs of developing nations, by removing the (de facto) prominent position held by the International Monetary Fund’s major shareholders.

“For their own sake – and that of an institution that is needed today more than ever – the Fund’s major shareholders must leave the building.” — Professor Ashoka Mody in Project Syndicate

In the absence of a better IMF vision that would surely be the plan. Everything is right about it, there is nothing better to be done.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF)

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) logo.

But in the presence of a visionary plan for the IMF and a ramping-up of it’s mission by one order of magnitude, depowering the Fund’s major shareholders from their overarching role must be considered ‘Plan B’.

Meaningful IMF Reform

If IMF benefactors, supporters and beneficiaries can agree to implement a 1% Tobin Tax within their respective jurisdictions with the proceeds used to fund IMF operations, then the International Monetary Fund will become one order of magnitude more effective, and this must become our logical ‘Plan A’.

Nations contributing their quarterly Tobin Tax proceeds (minus fair and uniformly applied administration fees) would thenceforth receive robust support including proactive advice, IMF expertise, and economic assistance designed to improve and strengthen their economy. (Think: ‘Someone to Watch Over Me’)

Both minor and major shareholders would remain within the International Monetary Fund membership via their respective Tobin Tax contributions.

By displacing the present funding scheme with a (universal, among members-only) Tobin Tax funding scheme the IMF would suddenly have single-digit trillions of dollars available to help it advance member economies.

Yes, it is bold and daring. And yes, a lot of money could accrue. And on account of that, the International Monetary Fund would need to become proactive, sending targeted assistance on a ‘just-in-time delivery’ basis, with easy repayment terms for developing nations.

If generous IMF funding for job creation exists, national economies will suddenly find themselves structurally sound in months instead of decades, and therefore, require lower levels of future assistance.

I’m not for a minute suggesting, throwing shiploads of money at problems in an effort to make them disappear because we suddenly have shiploads of money available; Rather, I’m suggesting that such a lucrative funding mechanism could finally allow the IMF to become all that it can and should be, and should have been all along.

Instead of pushing major donor nations away in an attempt to lessen their powerful influence on today’s finite IMF funding — why not change the entire conversation to one that is an ‘all-IMF-members-contribute-to-the-IMF-via-a-1%-Tobin-Tax’ conversation and are ‘thereby generously and proactively assisted’ by the International Monetary Fund.

The question; How can we afford to fund what needs to be done?’ need never be considered again.

Bonus Graphic

What is the IMF?

What is the IMF presently? And what could the IMF become with robust funding?

Note about Non-Participant IMF Members:

Nations that decide against contributing to the IMF via a national Tobin Tax contribution programme would lose the ability to benefit from the IMF — except in the case where ‘country A’ would hire the IMF directly on an ad-hoc basis, to ‘survey’ or ‘comment’ or ‘create a report on’ the economy or prospects of ‘country A’.

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