Reform of the International Financial Architecture: An Asian Perspective
The paper attempts to evaluate whether the international financial architecture is adequate for maintaining the financial stability of the East Asian economies by summarizing the lessons learned from the Asian financial crisis of 1997-1998 and the global financial crisis of 2007-2009 and reviewing the progress being made to enhance the effectiveness of the international financial architecture in crisis prevention, management and resolution. The paper finds that the international community had to experience the two crises before seriously starting to work on the reform of the international financial architecture. Facing the global financial crisis, the international community has responded by making the G20 Summit the premier forum for international economic and financial cooperation, creating a potentially more powerful Financial Stability Board, and augmenting the financial resources of the IMF. The paper concludes, however, that the international financial architecture remains inadequate for the needs of many emerging market economies, including in East Asia. International Monetary Fund surveillance—particularly that of systemically important economies (such as the United States, the United Kingdom and the Euro Area)—is ineffective and its governance structure is heavily biased towards Europe and the United States. International liquidity support is insufficient in assisting countries with sound economic and financial management that are hit by externally driven crises. No international agreements exist on external (sovereign) debt restructuring, or on the cross-border resolution of insolvent, internationally active financial firms for fair burden sharing of losses between creditors and debtors, or among different national authorities. The paper emphasizes the importance of a well-functioning regional financial architecture to complement and strengthen the global financial architecture. It offers advice for East Asian authorities to focus on: (i) the establishment of resilient national financial systems, including local-currency bond markets; (ii) integration of national financial markets to facilitate the mobilization of regional savings for regional investment (in infrastructure and small- and medium-sized enterprises); (iii) enhancement of regional liquidity (Chiang Mai Initiative Multilateralization) and economic surveillance mechanisms; and (iv) regional exchange rate policy coordination to achieve sustained economic growth without creating macroeconomic and financial instability.
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