The Rise of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank

By Hunter Bosson

After half a century as the world’s premier international financial institutions, the IMF and World Bank finally have a credible rival. China’s Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), a multinational fund wielding roughly $50 billion in capital, has seen its coffers and membership swell in recent months, much to the U.S.’s chagrin.

Despite voicing concerns about the fund’s transparency and creditworthiness, many American allies have already expressed interest in joining. This month alone has seen the UK, France, and Germany signal a desire to become founding members. The U.S.’s stance has become increasingly embarrassing as even its closest Pacific allies consider joining the AIIB. Meanwhile, Congress has failed to approve basic reforms to the IMF that would expand China’s role, prompting Secretary of the Treasury’s Jack Lew to caution that America’s “international credibility and influence” is being threatened. Without the support of the world’s second largest economy, the IMF and World Bank’s ineffectualness is becoming increasingly costly. Asia needs $8 trillion in infrastructure investment between 2010 and 2020; meanwhile the World Bank has only had one capital increase since 1988. What for decades have been key instruments in preserving American soft power are quickly becoming liabilities. The AIIB’s creation is looking not just probable, but necessary.