Legislating International Organization: The US Congress, the IMF, and the World Bank

By Kathryn C. Lavelle | Go to book overview

4
Domestic Constituencies Speak
THE END OF FIXED PARITY AND THE RISE
OF DEVELOPMENT LENDING

Now, therefore, be it Resolved by the Senate and House of
Representatives of the United States of America in Congress
assembled
, That the Treasury did not adequately consult the
Congress with regard to the basic decision to support a possibly
radical change in the character of the IMF and to accede to the use
of IMF gold of aid to the less developed nations rather than to
restitute the said gold to the member nations.1

—S. J. Res. 161 94th Congress, 2nd Session

Whereas the World Bank had been engaged in issues associated with development lending from its outset, the IMF became increasingly concerned with these issues after the end of fixed parity and when the necessity of recycling oil revenues through the international financial system appeared. When Robert McNamara assumed the presidency of the World Bank in 1968, he expanded its scope beyond the assistance of poor countries to include poverty alleviation of people living in them. Thus, I refer to this stage as the “development stage” of the Congress-IFI relationship because the work mandates of both of the IFIs converged toward the promotion of economic development in poorer countries. This chapter details how the convergence was not, however, without political controversy.

Controversy occurred within the context of a series of exogenous shocks to the US political economy. Many of the long-term changes in the global economy discussed in the previous chapter were associated with rebuilding the global economy after World War IT Early in the process, the US had sustained a balance-of-trade surplus. Labor and big business were aligned on the issue of free trade since it brought jobs to the US economy. As the recovery succeeded, the surplus became a deficit, and the sectors of the US economy hit hardest by the new competition from abroad fell out of the free-trade coalition. The pressure on the US economy culminated with Richard Nixon’s August 1971 decision to suspend gold sales and subsequent restructuring of the international

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