The Debate on the International Monetary System
IMF Staff Position Note SPN/09/26
Published in Boorman, Jack T. and Andre Icard, eds., 2011, "Reform of the International Monetary System: The Palais Royal Initiative," Sage Publications.
Published in Blanchard, Olivier and Il SaKong, eds., 2010, "Reconstructing the World Economy: Papers Presented at a Joint Conference of the Korea Development Institute and the International Monetary Fund," Washington, DC: IMF.
25 Pages Posted: 22 May 2019
Date Written: November 11, 2009
The global crisis resurrected deep-rooted concerns about the functioning of the international monetary system (IMS). Despite its relative stability, the current “non-system” has the inherent weaknesses of a setup with a dominant country-issued reserve currency, wherein the reserve issuer runs fiscal and external deficits to meet growing world demand for reserve assets and where there is no ready mechanism forcing surplus or reserve-issuing countries to adjust. The problem has amplified in recent years in line with a sharp rise in the demand for reserves, reflecting in part emerging markets’ tendency to self-insure against costly capital account crises. This paper considers options to address these tensions, thereby contributing to the ongoing debate on strengthening the international monetary system. On the demand side, it explores alternative insurance arrangements that could mitigate the precautionary demand for reserves. On the supply side, it assesses a menu of alternative reserve assets that could offer sustained stability and efficiency. Many of the proposals presented would require fundamental changes in the forms and degree of international cooperation, but may gain realism and practical relevance if more incremental efforts at strengthening the current system fail.
Keywords: international monetary system, reserve currencies, country insurance, SDR, dollar, bancor, IMF
JEL Classification: F3, F31, F33
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation