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IMF Annual Meetings Focus on High Debt Burdens and Global Inequality

The annual International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank meetings are focusing on the role of high debt burdens in both global economic recovery and increasing inequality. At the onset of the meetings, the G24 released an IMF statement noting that the IMF's failure to implement quota reform and the outcome of the US Supreme Court Argentina/NML Capital case impacts global inequality.
"The G24 knows that emerging markets have a lot to lose if the Supreme Court decides in favor of the hedge funds and against Argentina," stated Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of Jubilee USA Network, a religious development coalition.

The G24's broader disappointments stem from the failure in implementing the 2010 IMF Quota Reform agreement. The reforms sought to offer fairer representation in the governance and efforts of the IMF. The reforms have stalled because the US Congress has not approved them. Since the United States government has the dominant vote in the IMF, the reforms can not move forward until they are approved by the US Congress.

"The Obama Administration believes in the reforms and urgently wants Congress to pass them," noted LeCompte. "At this time, Congress is actively questioning what is the appropriate role for the fund."

Ahead of the meetings, IMF Managing Director Christine LaGarde and World Bank President Jim Kim spoke publicly about inequality and focused on the IMF's April World Economic Outlook Report. The report forecasts cautious improvement for several advanced and emerging economies, including the United States, but notes that the recovery is uneven and vast inequality persists. One of the principle issues the report reviews is how sustainable the debt loads are for both G20 and developing countries. Over the last year, the G20 has vigorously debated how to deal with unsustainable country debts and speculative investments, root causes of the global financial crisis. One year ago in Washington, G20 Financial Ministers discussed the possibility of an international sovereign bankruptcy process in order to provide stability in the international financial system. The IMF staff also released a paper ahead of last year's meetings, which explored aspects of the process. Last fall during the St. Petersburg Summit, G20 heads of state discussed the process and invited the IMF to continue to review debt sustainability and debt issues. IMF staff continues to actively explore more stable debt restructuring processes.

"The IMF is right to focus the conversation on high debt burdens that promote inequality and limit recovery," shared Eric LeCompte. "Everyone agrees there is a problem and hopefully everyone is moving to agreement that more orderly and predictable debt restructuring processes are the answer."

For the G24 IMF Statement:  http://www.imf.org/external/np/cm/2014/041014.htm

For the IMF World Outlook Report and resources:  http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/weo/2014/01/index.htm

For Information on Jubilee USA's IMF Panel:  http://www.jubileeusa.org/press/press-item/article/imf-high-level-panel-advisory.html