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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

IMF Considers Fund To Halt Capital Flight

WASHINGTON -- The IMF has begun to explore the possibility of setting up a multibillion-dollar lending window to help countries such as Russia cope with sudden capital flight by big-time speculators, monetary sources say.

The sources, who declined to be identified, said the International Monetary Fund's board held its first informal discussion this week about the proposal, which is being pressed by managing director Michel Camdessus.

Developing countries and Russia, who would probably stand to benefit most from the new facility, have welcomed Camdessus' proposal. But industrial nations were cautious.

Called the Short Term Financing Facility, the new pool of funds would be designed for use during economic crises, such as that which engulfed the European Monetary System in 1992 and which hit Mexico in March after the assassination of a leading presidential candidate.

"Such a facility would help member countries implementing sound policies to avoid being pushed off track by wayward and temporary losses of confidence among international investors," Camdessus said earlier this year in unveiling the proposal.

International monetary sources described the board's reaction to the idea as mostly cautious. But they emphasized that this week's discussion was preliminary and much work remained to be done before any final decisions were made.

Germany seemed most wary about the plan, although the United States was also skeptical, several sources said.

Under Camdessus' proposal, the IMF would be able to lend money quickly to countries hit by capital flight without first having to go through lengthy negotiations.

The money would have to be repaid quickly, perhaps in three to six months, and would only be lent to countries already pursuing sound economic policies. The European Union and the Bank for International Settlements -- the central bank for world central bankers -- already have arrangements in place to provide short-term financing to countries hit by sudden crises of confidence.

And the United States and Canada have set up a currency swap network with Mexico for the same purpose.

It's not clear how the new IMF facility would fit in with those, although it might be made available to a wider range of countries, one source said.