Confronting the Coming Liquidity Crisis

SAO PAULO – This month, G-20 leaders will meet in Antalya, Turkey, for their tenth summit since the 2007 global financial crisis. But, despite all of these meetings – high-profile events involving top decision-makers from the world’s most influential economies – no real progress has been made toward reforming the international financial architecture. Indeed, the group has not seriously engaged with the subject since the 2010 summit in Seoul. Put simply, the G-20 is failing in its primary and original purpose of enhancing global financial and monetary stability.

A big part of the problem is that the G-20 agenda has become increasingly congested over the years. At a time of looming financial upheaval, the G-20 must stop attempting to tackle a broad array of issues simultaneously – a goal that has proved impossible – and go back to basics.

The United States Federal Reserve is now preparing to raise interest rates, which it has kept near zero since the crisis. While monetary-policy tightening may be necessary, it risks triggering a serious liquidity crisis in developing countries, with a major impact on economic growth and development. That is why, at this month’s G-20 summit, participants must focus on providing a credible institutional backstop for the difficult times ahead.

Specifically, the G-20 should move to empower the International Monetary Fund, both by pushing it to do more with its existing powers and by championing institutional reform. Raghuram Rajan, the governor of India’s central bank, emphasized this at the recent annual meetings of the IMF and the World Bank in Lima, Peru, when he called for the Fund to build a sustainable global safety net to help countries in future liquidity crisis.