Lew emphasizes U.S. veto power at the IMF

U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew was on Capitol Hill today, and he pushed Congress to approve a larger U.S. quota contribution to the International Monetary Fund. In its budget document, the administration cast the request as a means of maintaining U.S. privileges at the fund. As the largest shareholder, the United States has an effective ...

U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew was on Capitol Hill today, and he pushed Congress to approve a larger U.S. quota contribution to the International Monetary Fund. In its budget document, the administration cast the request as a means of maintaining U.S. privileges at the fund. As the largest shareholder, the United States has an effective veto over many fund decisions, and the pending reform would maintain that level of control. Lew emphasized that point today with the House Budget Committee. Via Bloomberg:

Lew defended the U.S.’s role in the International Monetary Fund after the Obama administration asked Congress to approve a plan to boost the lender’s resources.

“We have a veto in the IMF, we have a controlling voice when we need to,” Lew told the House Budget Committee today. “We have leverage so that the United States can influence the economic decisions around the world, and it’s something our international leadership depends on.”

U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew was on Capitol Hill today, and he pushed Congress to approve a larger U.S. quota contribution to the International Monetary Fund. In its budget document, the administration cast the request as a means of maintaining U.S. privileges at the fund. As the largest shareholder, the United States has an effective veto over many fund decisions, and the pending reform would maintain that level of control. Lew emphasized that point today with the House Budget Committee. Via Bloomberg:

Lew defended the U.S.’s role in the International Monetary Fund after the Obama administration asked Congress to approve a plan to boost the lender’s resources.

“We have a veto in the IMF, we have a controlling voice when we need to,” Lew told the House Budget Committee today. “We have leverage so that the United States can influence the economic decisions around the world, and it’s something our international leadership depends on.”

Lew’s comments came just as the IMF and World Bank are beginning their annual spring meetings. Finance ministers from around the world are descending on the 19th street headquarters of the institution. Most of them will come from smaller and poorer countries, and many of them respond to publics who are deeply skeptical of U.S. motives and of institutions like the IMF.  

For these observers, Lew’s rhetoric will likely reinforce preexisting beliefs about the IMF:  that the institution is effectively under U.S. control and that Washington uses it to spread its influence. The dilemma for U.S. policymakers is that they need to speak the language of control and instrumentalization on the Hill and a very different dialect across town. 

David Bosco is an associate professor at Indiana University's School of Global and International Studies. He is the author of books on the U.N. Security Council and the International Criminal Court, and is at work on a new book about governance of the oceans. Twitter: @multilateralist

More from Foreign Policy

A worker cuts the nose off the last Ukraine's Tupolev-22M3, the Soviet-made strategic aircraft able to carry nuclear weapons at a military base in Poltava, Ukraine on Jan. 27, 2006. A total of 60 aircraft were destroyed  according to the USA-Ukrainian disarmament agreement.
A worker cuts the nose off the last Ukraine's Tupolev-22M3, the Soviet-made strategic aircraft able to carry nuclear weapons at a military base in Poltava, Ukraine on Jan. 27, 2006. A total of 60 aircraft were destroyed according to the USA-Ukrainian disarmament agreement.

Why Do People Hate Realism So Much?

The school of thought doesn’t explain everything—but its proponents foresaw the potential for conflict over Ukraine long before it erupted.

Employees watch a cargo ship at a port in China, which is experiencing an economic downturn.
Employees watch a cargo ship at a port in China, which is experiencing an economic downturn.

China’s Crisis of Confidence

What if, instead of being a competitor, China can no longer afford to compete at all?

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell testifies in the U.S. Senate in Washington on Sept. 24, 2020.
Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell testifies in the U.S. Senate in Washington on Sept. 24, 2020.

Why This Global Economic Crisis Is Different

This is the first time since World War II that there may be no cooperative way out.

Chinese President Xi Jinping (left) and Premier Li Keqiang applaud at the closing session of the National People's Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on March 11.
Chinese President Xi Jinping (left) and Premier Li Keqiang applaud at the closing session of the National People's Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on March 11.

China Is Hardening Itself for Economic War

Beijing is trying to close economic vulnerabilities out of fear of U.S. containment.