A new economic world order is emerging and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) may be at the center of global policymaking as a kind of mega-central bank which would "manage" all economies, according to a report in The Washington Post.
President Obama and other G-20 leaders recently empowered the IMF to inject liquidity into global markets in a way once limited to major central banks, including the U.S. Federal Reserve.
The radically transformed IMF — which was largely an advisory body in recent years — is now coming together through internal IMF documents, interviews, and think-tank reports.
Finance ministers from major nations are going to finalize the IMF's new powers this weekend when they confer in Washington for the fund's assembly.
The changes may take months, even years to be enacted. But, according to The Washington Post, the IMF is all almost certain to take a central role in managing the world economy.
Accordingly, Washington is poised to become the power center for global financial policy, much as the United Nations has long made New York the world center for diplomacy.
"The IMF is changing, and with it, there will be a sea change in the way the world economy is run," said C. Fred Bergsten, director of the Peterson Institute for International Economics, and a former Clinton administration insider.
"Their role will dramatically shift. You're talking about monitoring fiscal stimulus, moving toward tighter regulations for financial institutions. You're talking about global economic management in a way we have never seen."
Created after World War II to maintain stability in global currency markets, the IMF later became known as the lender of last resort for nations in crisis, particularly as financial fires raced across Asia and Latin America in the 1990s.
"The fund is supposed to take on a more regulatory role, holding accountable even wealthy countries," Moshin Khan, the IMF's former Middle East and Central Asia director, told The Washington Post.
This kind of government interventionism is exactly what got the U.S. and the global economy into trouble, critics note.
"The conventional wisdom blames our plight on an over-reliance on the free market, on too much deregulation. The truth is exactly the opposite," writes Peter Lewin, a professor of finance and managerial economics in the University of Texas at Dallas School of Management, in an article in The Freeman, a free market economics journal.
"The current debacle is the result of multiple overreaching government regulations and interventions. At the very base of the problem is the Federal Reserve, which has attempted to fine-tune the economy and guide it delicately through ups and downs," Lewin writes.
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