IMF, World Bank Meet in Bangkok Top Concerns Include Soviet Needs, Slow Rebound of US Economy, and Capital Shortfall

By Sheila Tefft, writer of The Christian Science Monitor | The Christian Science Monitor, October 8, 1991 | Go to article overview

IMF, World Bank Meet in Bangkok Top Concerns Include Soviet Needs, Slow Rebound of US Economy, and Capital Shortfall


Sheila Tefft, writer of The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor


WHEN the world's top central bankers and finance ministers start gathering next weekend in the capital of this fast-track nation, they will face two worrisome global trends: economic sluggishness and a capital shortfall.

More than 12,000 delegates are expected to flood Bangkok for the annual meeting of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Oct. 15-17.

They confront a stark world landscape clouded by a faltering recovery of the United States economy and lacking enough funds to salvage a free-falling Soviet Union, boost reform in Eastern Europe, and prop up struggling economies elsewhere.

In contrast, Thailand, a free-market disciple that has grown at a double-digit clip over the past decade, is trying to buff an image tarnished by overdevelopment and too-fast growth.

Two public holidays have been declared during the meeting so delegates can avoid the choking traffic jams that snarl Bangkok daily. One-fifth of the city's 6 million people live in impoverished ghettos. Scores of slum-dwellers have been moved from the vicinity of the $100 million convention center erected for the meeting. Authorities have launched a massive security operation.

"Thailand is a very good example of both the positive and negative aspects of mainstream development in a Third World country," wrote Saneh Chamarik, a rural development specialist organizing a parallel conference to highlight the downside of Thailand's economic resurgence.

At the meeting, World Bank and IMF officials will face a widening gap between global demand for capital and supply, bank observers say. Among the world's seven richest industrialized countries, known as the Group of Seven (G-7), national savings as a percentage of domestic output have dropped dramatically over the last decade. The G-7 includes the US, Japan, Germany, France, Britain, Canada, and Italy.

The industrialized countries are expected to favor channeling more scarce resources to the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, at the risk of confrontation with impoverished developing nations. …

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