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International Monetary Developments

Edinburgh Finance & Investment Seminar, Glasgow Discussion Group on Finance & Investment, Edinburgh, 22 June 1999, 22.06.1999

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Reasonably stable currency relations are a decisive precondition for successful economic cooperation beyond one's own borders. Such relations are ultimately the result of a sustained convergence of solid economic policies implemented by individual countries. Unfortunately, the push toward globalisation often clouds the perception that at least for the foreseeable future, each country must take responsibility for its own actions and failures to act.

With a view to implementing the intentions contained in the Bretton Woods agreements, the International Monetary Fund is assigned the task of promoting international monetary cooperation. Since its inception, the IMF has had to strike a balance between stressing the self-reliance of individual countries and a readiness to facilitate adjustment processes. Experience has shown that institutional regulations are a necessary, but insufficient requirement for success. Outside help is indispensable in many cases. Such assistance can, however, only be effective if it is provided in the form of help towards self-help.

If the difficult circumstances in which the International Monetary Fund has to perform its task are taken into account, its activity can be rated as mainly positive. The institution's mandate and self-image have changed in line with the changing environment in the course of time. That will also be the case in the future.

It is essential to recognise that a sustained economic development is only possible on the basis of social and economic stability. First and foremost, however, individual countries themselves bear the responsibility for creating this stability. In so doing, they ultimately make the best contribution toward international cooperation.