International Financial Governance under Stress: Global Structures versus National Imperatives

By Geoffrey R.D Underhill; Xiaoke Zhang | Go to book overview

Conclusion:

towards the good
governance of the international
financial system

GEOFFREY R. D. UNDERHILL AND XIAOKE ZHANG

Reflecting on the causes of recent financial crises, former World Bank chief economist Joseph Stiglitz observed by analogy that when so many accidents occurred on the same road one needed to re-examine the design of the road.1 And indeed, the growing frequency and severity of financial crises have fostered a re-examination of the international financial architecture. The recent episodes of currency and financial crises in east Asia, Russia, Latin America and Turkey have provided the same watershed opportunity for rethinking the architecture of global finance as did the breakdown of the Bretton Woods order. In the wake of the Asian episode in particular, there has been a flurry of proposals on how the policies and institutions of the global financial regime should be reformed.

These reform proposals on the official ‘new financial architecture’ agenda, however, have remained limited in their intent and extent. While there has been progress in the development of international financial standards, efforts at exploring the optimal exchange rate regime, defining and encouraging private sector responsibility in crisis resolution and improving multilateral policy surveillance have been patchy and uneven.2 The modesty of proposed reforms to the global financial system have not been restricted to technical issues. The apolitical terms in which financial architecture debates have been couched serves to obfuscate the political dynamics that underlie and limit international efforts to restructure the global financial regime. Three years after the outbreak of the Asian financial crisis, the robust economic recovery in some crisis countries appeared to lull governments and international institutions into complacency about the long-term weaknesses of global financial structures. As the architecture exercise ran out of steam, many of the structural problems that threatened international financial stability have remained dangerously unresolved and are suddenly rendered urgent once again.

It should be noted that the manuscript for this volume was essentially completed before the outbreak of either the current Turkish or Argentine crises, both of which remain unresolved at going to press. In Turkey and Argentina (now Latin America more generally), as in other crisis countries, capital mobility,

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