Sins of the Commission: The Meltzer Report on international financial institutions

Graham Bird

Published: September 2000

In the aftermath of the East Asian financial crisis there has been much discussion of a new international financial architecture. A significant contribution to this debate is the Report of the International Financial Institution Advisory Commission, sponsored by the US Congress, which was chaired by Allan Meltzer and published in March 2000. The Commission makes a number of radical proposals for reform. Professor Bird argues that unfortunately the analysis underlying many of them is flawed, or at least highly dubious. Reform based on the Commission’s recommendations would therefore be largely ill-directed; it would be bad news for developing countries and countries in transition, and could lead to greater global instability. An alternative approach to reform exists which attempts to modify the IFI’s operations in ways that build on the lessons of experience rather than simply discontinues them, as the Meltzer Commission recommends.

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