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Nairobi, reform and the Euromarkets

This year's annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank will again concentrate on the long quest for a new monetary order and, since they are being held, for the first time, in the world's poorest continent, they will be concentrating also on aid to developing countries.

No doubt, great efforts will be made to give an appearance of progress. 

The finance ministers may try to re-create the optimism for reform which they generated in Washington in July. But the disappointing meeting of their deputies in Paris at the beginning of this month showed once more that the negotiations have a tendency to become bogged down whenever they descend from high principles to awkward details. There is the additional complication that the negotiations of trade and monetary reform hang together and that the trade negotiations got off to a distinctly unpromising formal start in Tokyo this month. 

The fact is that only a single important modification of the world's monetary system has been achieved by international agreement over the past generation, namely the decision to create SDRs, a process that has now been suspended after only three years. Apart from that, the world's monetary system has been modified by events rather than by deliberation and those who are prepared for a continuing evolution may avoid the disappointment of those who hope for the emergence of some grand plan, 'next spring', or whenever.


The question of aid to developing countries has followed much the same pattern.