America and the Global Economy

The Case for U.S. Leadership

Lew in Washington, May 2015. Carlos Barria / REUTERS

When U.S. President Barack Obama joined other global leaders at the G-20 summit in Turkey in November 2015, the United States was in the final stages of a multiyear effort to secure the approval of a set of important reforms to the International Monetary Fund. The reforms, negotiated in 2010 with strong U.S. leadership, were designed to double the organization’s core financial resources to combat financial crises and to modernize its governance by increasing the voting shares of emerging-market economies while maintaining a decisive U.S. voice. But their implementation had been on hold for several years, awaiting approval from Congress. Christine Lagarde, the IMF’s managing director, spoke for many when she opened the meeting in Turkey by saying she prayed that the United States would approve the reforms by the end of the year. Obama responded with a mix of levity and seriousness. “You don’t have

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