International Finance and Financial Policy

By Hans R. Stoll | Go to book overview

17
Current Developments in the Debt Crisis

RICHARD D. ERB

I looked back at the annual report of the Federal Reserve Board for 1969 to see what were some of the major developments at that time on the international scene, and two of them were related to the discussion in this volume. One of them was a report on the developments in the foreign credit restraint program, and I think in this discussion perhaps not enough emphasis has been placed on the array of controls and restrictions that existed at that time. In addition, positive mention was made at an IMF executive board discussion of mechanisms that could introduce greater exchange rate flexibility. The report also noted that an outstanding event of 1969 was the first amendment of the IMF articles of agreement, the first amendment since the articles were put into effect in late 1945--the decision to establish the special drawing rights (SDR) system, and then there was also a decision that year to allocate SDRs of 9.5 billion for three years.

One other historical event in the period since the late 1960s is related to this discussion, and that is the fact that in the mid-1970s there were many countries with balance-of-payment financing problems--some in Europe, in Portugal, Italy, the United Kingdom. There was an exchange stabilization fund support for Mexico in 1976. Then IMF and EFF (Extended Fund Facility) and some of the other elements of support at that time were repeated again in 1982 in countries like Zaire. Arthur F. Burns called for supervision of such loans by the International Monetary Fund in 1977. It was only a year or two after that that some of the big lending took place by banks in the United States and in other countries. I recall in 1976 and 1977 there were many conferences where the topic of discussion was country credit risk analysis, and the objective was how to strengthen commercial bank credit evaluations so they could avoid some of the

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