The Legalization of International Monetary Affairs

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For the first time in history, international monetary relations were institutionalized after World War II as a set of legal obligations. The Articles of Agreement that formed the International Monetary Fund contain international legal obligations of the rules of good conduct for IMF members. Members were required to maintain a par value for their currency (until 1977), to use a single unified exchange-rate system, and to keep their current account free from restrictions. In this article I explore why governments committed themselves to these rules and the conditions under which they complied with their commitments. The evidence suggests that governments tended to make and keep commitments if other countries in their region did so as well. Governments also complied with their international legal commitments if the regime placed a high value on the rule of law domestically. One inference is that reputational concerns have a lot to do with international legal commitments and compliance. Countries that have invested in a strong reputation for protecting property rights are more reluctant to see it jeopardized by international law violations. Violation is more likely, however, in the face of widespread noncompliance, suggesting that compliance behavior should be understood in its regional context.

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International Organization