Outcomes: a first cut

So: the outcome.  Here’s the communique – and three thoughts from me.

First, the biggest winner from today is the IMF. This is an organisation which looked like it might go bust just a couple of months ago; now, its funds have been trebled to $750bn, much higher than the $500bn that David Miliband was touting last week.

But the IMF’s win isn’t just financial; it’s existential.  At the beginning of last year, it was set to lose a sixth of its staff.  People were openly wondering what is was for.  And now?  The G20 has just issued a clear, ringing, and very public, declaration of its continuing centrality to global governance.

Here’s my hesitation, though.  If the declaration of faith in the IMF is clear, the path towards reforming it is much less so.  The communique calls on the IMF to complete the next review of quota votes by 2011, but says nothing about the principles that should underpin this review. It includes the traditional call for “greater voice and representation for poor countries”, but doesn’t get into specifics.  As Oxfam have put it, the IMF’s back, it’s big and it’s bad.  Whether it’s reformed is another question.

Second, the movement on tax havens is actually pretty significant.  The communique says that “the era of banking secrecy is over”, and actually, it might be right.  We’re told to expect a list of tax havens, broken down into ‘white’, ‘grey’ and ‘black’ – and Stephen Timms, a junior UK Treasury minister, briefed this morning that he expects sanctions against countries that don’t sign up to the required disclosure standards.

For development advocates, tax havens have long been a massive bugbear.  Back when I was working a DFID at the time of its 3rd White Paper in 2006, tax havens were already starting to be recognised as one of the most critical policy coherence issues in development – but it was clear there was no chance of getting reform of them onto the global agenda.  A lot can change in three years…

Third, a big disappointment: climate change.  I blogged earlier that not much was expected on this, and so it has proved. On green new deals, in particular, the lack of numbers is a very major omission.