Nicola Bullard*
There is something disturbing about Kofi Anan “ringing the bell” at the New York Stock Exchange. The Secretary General was there to launch the UN’s latest capitulation to the market: the “voluntary and aspirational” Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) which is backed by the UN Environment Programme Finance Initiative and the UN Global Compact,  Kofi Anan’s other infamous corporate “bluewash”. Yet, it seems, the closer Anan gets to business, the further he moves from his members. In the past week, there has been an uprising in the General Assembly where the majority of members are resisting US-backed reforms to the budget process which would increase the powers of the Secretary General while reducing the powers of the UNGA. The US and Japan are threatening to withhold their contributions unless the issue is resolved to their liking, however for the majority of members from the South, the General Assembly provides one of the few international spaces where their voices can still be heard and their resistence may yet develop into a full-blown rebellion. 

Meanwhile in Washington, Rodrigo de Ratore-arranged the deckchairs on the IMF Titanic in a desperate effort to keep the Fund relevant by fiddling with the voting allocations and re-branding itself as the institutional framework to deal with  “global imbalances”. This basically means that the IMF is now mandated to undertake “multilateral surveillance” of the global economy and to conduct multilateral consultations when the economic policies of one country spill over onto other countries. Interestingly this initiative has the fulsome support of the US, which of course makes one wonder, what’s in it for the US? Perhaps they see the possibility of using the IMF to discipline China into revaluing the yen, a policy battle with China that the US is desperate to win.  The IMF has a proven track record in following instructions from the US Treasury, but given that China has no need of either the IMF’s money or advice, the Fund has no leverage to influence the pace of change and direction of China’s exchange rate policy and may soon find itself back at the drawing board looking for new ways to keep itself relevant. For more on the World Bank’s and IMF’s identity crisis, see Walden Bello’s article in this issue. 
Back on Wall Street, on the same day that Bolivian president Evo Morales kept his election promise of nationalising Bolivia’s gas reserves (see article by Roger Burbach below) Stephen Roach, chief economist of Morgan Stanley (one of world’s largest financial services corporations)  wrote to his well-heeled clients in an upbeat mood, congratulating Asia, and especially China, for “recognising the unsustainability of export-led growth models”. 
And to think that his clients pay handsomely for this wisdom that any Thai farmer would give them for free. 
And, just to finish the market report, after a bullish start to the year, WTO director general Pascal Lamy announced that the WTO is effectively on life support because they keep missing the (artificial) deadlines set to bully developing countries into making concessions (the expiration of the US “fast track” authority, the French presidential election, the World Cup, the summer vacation…) . The reality is that developing countries are not happy with what’s on the table, and the EU and the US are still miles apart on agriculture. 
The overwhelming consensus (amongst Thai farmers and others in the know) is that the current round of negotiations is a catastrophe for the majority of the South. Although there might be a few winners in some sectors in a handful of countries, the hype that accompanies Lamy’s exhortations to get the negotiations back on track is not supported by the economic research and modelling. 
One recent report which admirably summarises the estimated “benefits” of the Round is “Doha Round and Developing Countries: Will the Doha deal do more harm than good? by Timothy A. Wise and Kevin P. Gallagher  
* Nicola Bulllard is a senior associate with Focus on the Global South and edits Focus on Trade.