Theory and Society

, Volume 38, Issue 5, pp 459-484

First online:

The crisis of neoliberalism and the future of international institutions: A comparison of the IMF and the WTO

  • Nitsan ChorevAffiliated withDepartment of Sociology, Brown University Email author 
  • , Sarah BabbAffiliated withDepartment of Sociology, Boston College

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The current crisis of neoliberalism is calling into question the relevance of key international institutions. We analyze the origins, nature, and possible impacts of the crisis through comparing two such institutions: the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Trade Organization (WTO). Both originated in the post-World War II U.S.-led hegemonic order and were transformed as part of the transition to global neoliberalism. We show that while the IMF and the WTO have been part of the same hegemonic project, their distinct institutional features have put them on significantly different trajectories. Historical differences in the two institutions’ systems of rules have placed the IMF in a more vulnerable position than the WTO, which provides clues to the future contours of global economic governance.