Why it Matters Who Runs the IMF and the World Bank

35 Pages Posted: 20 Mar 2008

Date Written: 1/1/2003


Increasing integration has made the great challenge of reducing poverty and advancing human development more achievable than ever, and more dependent than ever on good global economic governance. In this paper I set out the economic logic for why good global economic governance matters for reducing poverty and inequality in the world, and then develop several arguments for how better representation of developing countries in the IMF, the World Bank, and other multilateral institutions would make those institutions more effective in that task. The arguments include the long-run viability of new financing of the institutions, and their effectiveness in managing the political economy challenges of using conditionality. To illustrate the possible link between better representation and effectiveness, I discuss the example of the Inter-American Development Bank, where the developing country borrowers control 50 percent of the votes and the Presidency. I close with a discussion of the dilemma of reconciling the need for sustaining the financial and political support of the rich country members of these global institutions, with stronger poor country representation to ensure their long-run legitimacy and effectiveness.

Keywords: economic development, poverty reduction, multilateral development banks, economic governance

Suggested Citation

Birdsall, Nancy, Why it Matters Who Runs the IMF and the World Bank (1/1/2003). Center for Global Development Working Paper No. 22. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1109073 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1109073

Nancy Birdsall (Contact Author)

Center for Global Development ( email )

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