Running the IMF: Reducing political bias and increasing independence

Graham Bird

Published: December 2006

Increasing concern has been expressed by both scholars and officials about political bias and influence in the IMF. This is seen as threatening the effectiveness of the institution. But how can the problem be resolved? One way would be to try to create greater political balance by changing quotas and therefore voting rights. In limited form, this is the approach that was adopted at the Fund’s Annual Meetings in Singapore in September 2006. The article critically examines this option. It goes on to explore the idea of granting greater independence to the Fund. Although far from straightforward, it may be sensible for policy to begin to work towards this objective. However, IMF independence would also force the world to decide what purposes the Fund should fulfil and what instruments it would need in order to fit these purposes.

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