Bretton Woods Still Relevant Fifty-One Research Paper

Excerpt from Research Paper :

As to Latin America and the Caribbean, those nations receive 27% of the committed portfolio for both IFC and MIGA; Latin American and the Caribbean have 8.6% of their populations living under $1 a day. The reason that those two regions are given such a large sum of money is that they have "…larger economies [that are] presumed to have lower overall risk" (Masser, 2009, p. 1716).

Masser approaches that argument to a fuller extent on page 1718: there are "clear reasons for investing such large amounts in relatively well-off regions" like Central Asia, Latin America and Europe, the author states. When the MIGA / IFC pour money into "more prosperous regions" it helps provide a more "diversified portfolio that protects investments in riskier regions by ensuring returns" (Masser, 2009, p. 1718). On the other hand, while money managers would agree that investing in a sure thing can provide cash to cover losses in a less-than-sure thing, Masser (p. 1719) asserts that investing less in "least developed regions" is a "major shortcoming of MIGA and IFC.

Lending to "Small and Medium Enterprises" (SMEs) is very important when it comes to development in a struggling economy, Masser writes (p. 1721). The author backs up this assertion; SMEs "by their nature tend to be more responsive to market conditions" he insists, and frequently SMEs are the first to "respond to economic opportunities" (Masser, 2009, p. 1721). That said, SMEs are often lacking in "sufficient access to financial markets" and hence, there are signs, Masser explains (p 1722) that MIGA, IFC and OPIC are "strengthening the necessary financial infrastructure."

For example, MIGA provides guarantees that in turn help new banks get started, and by serving local entrepreneurs MIGA is actually assisting the local and national economies. IFC is putting forward efforts to increase its lending to SMEs -- and in 2006, IFC lent $1.62 billion to sub-Saharan Africa, according to Masser's research (p. 1723). That assistance to sub-Saharan Africa resulted in 144,000 "outstanding loans to SMEs" in 2006, demonstrating the ripple effect that investments in the financial sector can have on economies, Masser explains on page 1723.

Another example of the ripple effect pointed to by Masser is found in IFC's 2007 annual report; in that report IFC's "total exposure in financial markets" was $9.85 billion. However, the exposure of that money to clients, lenders, and insurers themselves "far exceeds" the $9.85 billion; indeed, over $57 billion in SME and microfinance loans "…were supported through the IFC exposure" of the $9.85 billion, Masser points out (p. 1724). In short, it takes money to make money, and developing countries simply don't have much of a chance without outside financial assistance.

On page 1726 Masser gives examples of projects that MIGA insured in 2007 with $2.2 billion: five out of nine relate to power provision; two are related to waste management; two are water treatment and supply facilities; and two are telecommunications projects.

International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD)

The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) is the main lending component of the World Bank, according to Jeremy Bulow and Kenneth Rogoff. The article by Bulow, et al., explains that the IBRD reports a "29% equity to loans ration and a 3% bad debt reserve" which by any simple calculation puts IBRD in "rock solid financial condition" (Bulow, et al., 2005, p. 394).


To answer the question as to which acronym helps a country with balance of payments, and which might help rebuilding roads in a developing country, the IMF (theoretically) is designed to help nations with balance of payments and the IBRD's work is related to projects like rebuilding roads. Meanwhile, Bulow raises the possibility that developing nations might be better off if the World Bank made "outright grants" rather than loans. The author asserts that "stronger international enforcement" of loans to developing nations tends to encourage more borrowing "…by exactly those kinds of weakly government states for whom expanded borrowing is least likely" to be helpful and "most likely" to lead to crises related to heavy debt. Bulow has a great idea, one that deserves a thorough flushing out by international scholars, politicians and economists.

Works Cited

Bello, Walden, and Guttal, Shalmali (2005). Crisis of Credibility: The Declining Power of the International Monetary Fund. Multinational Monitor, 26(7-8), 19-22.

Bulow, Jeremy, and Rogoff, Kenneth. (2005). Grants vs. Loans for Development Banks.

The American Economic Review, 95(2), 393-397.

Chossudovsky, Michel. (2000). The Real Cause of Famine in Ethiopia. The Ecologist, 30(6),


Collier, Paul, and Gunning, Jan…

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