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Multilateralism on Currency Issues

This article also appeared in the Business Standard.

Back in 1971, the then US Treasury Secretary, John Connolly, told his European counterparts that the dollar was “our currency, but your problem”. Today, it seems that China has returned that favour. Its currency has become a problem for the US. Not just the politics but the intellectual climate has become charged with even Nobel laureate Paul Krugman urging strong trade action against China. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner has a damned-if-I-do-damned-if-I-don’t choice facing him in mid-April, when he is required by law to pronounce on whether China is a currency manipulator.

A Development Perspective on China’s Currency—And a Fresh WTO Solution

My colleage Arvind Subramanian published an intriguing Op-Ed in the Financial Times this week. In “The Weak Renminbi is Not Just America’s Problem” Arvind notes that the undervalued Chinese currency is a global problem that requires a multilateral response. He then argues persuasively that neither the United States nor the IMF can be expected to persuade China to revalue its currency. Instead, he says, such action should come from the WTO.

A Surprise Consensus that International Institutions Need an Overhaul

Here are Donald Rumsfeld, James Wolfensohn and somebody else agreeing on something. Guess who recently said the following:
1. "But most (global) institutions are rickety relics of a sixty-year-old worldview, a product of the way the planet looked at the end of World War II or the dynamics that shaped it during the cold war era."