International Organizations

Is the Importance of Those Running the IMF Overstated?

Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund and a former French finance minister, faces trial for accusations of negligence. However, that has not undermined her recent declaration of her candidacy for a second term, which representatives of some of the IMF’s major member countries swiftly endorsed.

The AIIB Becomes another Cook in the Kitchen

The China-sponsored Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank formally launched over the weekend.  Many observers have seen it as a rival to the World Bank.  Others saw in another vehicle used to facilitate the internationalization of the Chinese yuan.

We have consistently argued that these ideas are a serious exaggeration. News that AIIB will lend only US dollars supports our claim.  It seemed obvious that most members would fund their quota in dollars.  It also seemed obvious that most borrowers would have little use for yuan. 

IMF Governance Reforms: Finally, Maybe?

The refusal of the US Congress to accept a new and higher quota (money) to the IMF stymied governance reforms for five years.  This has frustrated efforts to integrate the developing countries, especially the large ones, like China, better into the global economy.  It may have also helped spur China to develop parallel organizations, like the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.

The omnibus spending and tax bill that looks likely to be approved by Congress and signed by Obama in the coming days includes a provision to accept the IMF reforms.

Malaysia as ASEAN Chair Comes to an End

Malaysia ended its chairmanship of ASEAN as the grouping announced the establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) in November 2015. The AEC intends to create a single market across the ASEAN region by standardising economic regulations including those on trade, flows of financial capital and labour migration. Malaysia is one of a few ASEAN countries that have pushed most strongly for initiatives to enhance intraregional economic cooperation. However, there may be cause for disappointment in what Malaysia has achieved as ASEAN’s chair.

Hopes Remain High for the AEC

This year has been one of high expectations and of disappointment in Southeast Asia. Rarely has the economic and strategic importance of the region been as apparent. As China’s economy is transitioning towards ‘a new normal’ marked by lower growth, investors have looked to ASEAN as both an alternative and a complementary market to China.

ASEAN after the Smoke Clears

The smoke haze crisis that battered a major part of the southern ASEAN region in mid-2015 is showing signs of abating. Along with the disappearing haze, it is crucial that the resolve demonstrated by all parties — especially governments — to solve the issue doesn’t vanish as well.

Southeast Asian Cities Critical to the AEC

As the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) takes steps toward implementing the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) by the end of 2015, they should be cognisant that the paths towards economic integration and sustainable urbanisation are closely intertwined. Southeast Asian cities will play a critical role in the unfolding of the AEC.

Nothing TPP-ish is Happening with the Doha Development Agenda

At the beginning of October, 12 Pacific Rim countries agreed on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement. The TPP agreement has been hailed as a landmark trade pact, as it includes many issues that have so far not found their way into the rule of law in the multilateral trading system.