The United States and the International Financial Institutions: Power and Influence Within the World Bank and the IMF

Ngaire Woods

in US Hegemony and International Organizations

Published in print February 2003 | ISBN: 9780199261437
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191599309 | DOI:
   The United States and the International Financial Institutions: Power and Influence Within the World Bank and the IMF

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Examines the role of the US in international financial institutions with particular reference to the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Describes the extraordinary influence of the US on these institutions as a function of both formal means (e.g., US financial contributions) and informal practices and conventions that have developed over time, with the informal mechanisms of influence often being more important than the formal ones. However, it is also argued that, notwithstanding the weight of US influence, it would be inaccurate to consider the World Bank and the IMF as mere instruments of US power and policy, and that their remaining credibility and legitimacy rest in part on their ability to create some political distance between themselves and their most powerful state patron. US domestic political conditions are also important. Within the country, the division of authority between Executive and Congress sometimes enhances and at other times constrains US influence; the effective exercise of US power also requires interlocutors in host governments who share the technical mind‐set and ideological predispositions of the US and international financial institutions. The different sections of the chapter: analyse the formal and informal structures of power in the World Bank and IMF; look at the US in relation to the financing, lending decisions, staffing and management of these institutions; and discuss formal power structures and informal exercises of influence.

Keywords: finance; financial contributions; global organizations; IMF; influence; international financial institutions; International Monetary Fund; lending decisions; management; power structure; staffing; US; US domestic politics; World Bank

Chapter.  11073 words. 

Subjects: International Relations

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