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Commentary :: International
Can the US Save the World? by Simon Johnson
16 May 2009
Simon Johnson, a former chief economist at the IMF, teaches economics at MIT.
"...Unfortunately, IMF credibility has been somewhat damaged by its inability to follow through on exchange rate surveillance, particularly with regard to China. While there seems to be a movement towards implicit agreement among leading countries, in and around the G20, to take this issue of the table, that would be a serious mistake. Countries must not think that competitive devaluation (or even sustaining accidental undervaluation) is a sensible or attractive policy. This will lead to greater global imbalances and potential instability, as some countries compete to get current account surpluses and other countries – willingly or not – run deficits.

Unless and until countries are assured that there is an effective international lender of last resort, they will be tempted to try to accumulate large amounts of reserves. This creates problems for reserve currency countries (e.g., the United States) as well as for the global system as a whole. We need an international system that can handle these issues and prevent them from becoming destabilizing. The IMF should be given another chance to show that it can help run the global system in a constructive fashion. This is of paramount importance for the United States and for everyone who wants to participate in an open international trading system – particularly low income countries, which have few other opportunities to grow and which remain highly vulnerable to shocks of all kinds."

to read Simon Johnson's article posted May 14, 2009, click on
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