This Just In: The IFSWF Said Something

Ashby Monk

The International Forum of Sovereign Wealth Funds (IFSWF) is the body that grew out of the International Working Group of Sovereign Wealth Funds (IWG). The latter group was responsible for developing the Santiago Principles, while the former has the mandate to meet, exchange views, talk about the Principles and facilitate understanding of SWF activities.

Given that this is an organization with a mandate to facilitate the public’s understanding of SWF activities, it’s hard to explain why the IFSWF has been completely and utterly silent for over eleven months. The last time the organization updated its (public) website was May 8, 2010. Um, I’m sorry, but how should we, the public, ‘understand SWFs’ based on eleven months of silence?

OK, I’m done whining. Why? Because I can finally report that today, April 12, the IFSWF actually did something. It has announced that the IFSWF will, this coming May, host a meeting in Beijing for its members:

“The International Forum of Sovereign Wealth Funds (IFSWF) will convene its third meeting in Beijing, China on May 11-13, 2011, hosted by the China Investment Corporation. The meeting will convene senior officials of Sovereign Wealth Funds (SWFs) and governments that are in the process of establishing SWFs from more than 20 countries across the world. Senior representatives from countries receiving investments by SWFs, multilateral organizations, private sector, and academia will also participate in the discussions on the outlook and challenges in the global economy and financial stability and review recent developments in the regulatory environment and investment regimes of recipient countries. The third day of the meeting (May 13) is dedicated to discussions on the outlook on China’s economy and capital markets and opportunities and challenges in investing in China. The IFSWF will issue a press communiqué and hold a press conference on May 12, 2011.”

That’s great. I’m of the opinion that this organization has an important purpose. The IFSWF may be a product of the irrational (and sometimes xenophobic) fears that arose in the West in 2007-08, but it still plays a part in the legitimacy of SWFs internationally. As I argued in a recent paper,

“How did SWFs achieve domestic and international legitimacy? The answer is “institutional work”…“advocacy,” “nesting,” “defining,” “mimicry” and even “education” have all taken place over the past few years, facilitated by entities [such as the IWG and IFSWF] that have sought to diffuse best practice amongst the growing ‘community’ of SWFs. Much of this institutional work revolves around bolstering and documenting the SWFs’ operations to align fund governance with international and sponsor expectations.”

So this organization has a role to play in keeping markets open for SWFs. The IFSWF shouldn’t be complacent about the international legitimacy that SWFs have garnered over the past few years. As such, it’s nice to see the Beijing meeting moving ahead. I look forward to reading the communique on May 12.

1 Response to “This Just In: The IFSWF Said Something”

  1. 1 David Murray: SWF Myth Buster « Oxford SWF Project Trackback on May 12, 2011 at 3:08 pm

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This website is a project of Professor Gordon L. Clark and Dr. Ashby Monk of the School of Geography and the Environment at the University of Oxford. Their research on sovereign wealth funds is funded by the Leverhulme Trust and The Rotman International Centre for Pension Management.

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