It time for global money?
and political. Above all, the legitimacy of their decisions is rooted in law, which itself is the expression of democratic will. Bail out one bank and not another? Purchase sovereign debt but not state or commonwealth (for example, Puerto Rican) debt? Though deciding such questions at a supranational level is not theoretically impossible, it is utterly impractical in the modern era. Legitimacy, not technology, is the currency of central banks.
But the fact that a single global central bank and currency would fail spectacularly (regardless of how strong the economic case for it may be) does not absolve policymakers of their responsibility to address the challenges posed by a fragmented global monetary system. And that means bolstering global multilateral institutions.
The International Monetary Fund’s role as independent arbiter of sound macroeconomic policy and guardian against competitive currency devaluation ought to be strengthened. Finance ministers and central bankers in large economies should underscore, in a common protocol, their commitment to market-determined exchange rates. And, as Raghuram Rajan, the governor of the Reserve Bank of India, recently suggested, the IMF should backstop emerging economies that might face liquidity crises as a result of the normalisation of US monetary policy.
Likewise, a more globalised world requires a commitment from all actors to improve infrastructure, in order to ensure the efficient flow of resources throughout the world economy. To this end, the World Bank’s capital base in its International Bank for Reconstruction and Development should be increased along the lines of the requested $253 bln, to help fund emerging economies’ investments in highways, airports, and much else.
Multilateral support for infrastructure investment is not the only way global trade can be revived under the current monetary arrangements. As was amply demonstrated in the last seven decades, reducing tariffs and non-tariff barriers would also help – above all in agriculture and services, as envisaged by the Doha Round.
Global financial stability, too, can be strengthened within the existing framework. All that is required is harmonised, transparent, and easy-to-understand regulation and supervision.
For today’s international monetary system, the perfect – an unattainable single central bank and currency – should not be made the enemy of the good. Working within our existing means, it is surely possible to improve our policy tools and boost global growth and prosperity.