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Policy Brief 09-12

US Interests and the International Monetary Fund

by C. Randall Henning, Peterson Institute for International Economics

June 2009


C. Randall Henning
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The US Congress is now considering legislation to approve President Obama's pledge, made at the G-20 London summit in April, to increase the US commitment to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). This pledge is part of a collective effort by the G-20 leaders to triple the resources available to the IMF so that it can better respond to the ongoing global economic crisis. To this end, President Obama has submitted a four-part package to Congress for approval. The package would increase the US quota contribution to the IMF by about $8 billion, raise an emergency line of credit for the Fund by nearly $100 billion, endorse the IMF's plan to endow an investment fund through sales of some of its gold reserves in order to provide for its operational expenses, and approve a special allocation of the IMF's synthetic reserve asset, Special Drawing Rights (SDRs).

C. Randall Henning analyzes the politics and policy merits of the IMF legislation before Congress through a discussion of the IMF's role in the international monetary system, its relationship to US interests, and the congressional record of past IMF legislation. He argues that the present financial troubles have only increased the need for strong US support of the Fund. The IMF reflects the economic policy interests of the United States more faithfully than perhaps any other international institution and congressional action should reflect this basic convergence of interest. Failure to support the IMF now would not only hamper global and US recovery from the current crisis, but it would also undermine US influence, both within the IMF and in international relations generally.

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