With the arrival of the coronavirus health crisis, newspapers started to write about the so-called Special Drawing Rights (SDRs), with which Italian readers may not be so familiar: on 23 August, for example, the International Monetary Fund allocated 650 billion dollars’ worth of SDRs to all participating countries, “the largest distribution initiative ever organised by the Fund, which basically tripled (from 286 to 936 billion dollars) the SDR sums available to governments ”.
SDRsare not an actual currency per se, but represent a claim to “freely usable currencies”, held in official reserves of member countries. There are currently five currencies: US dollar, euro, yen, pound sterling and as of 2016, also Chinese Renminbi. Specifically, the IMF defines the precise concept of “freely usable”:
A “freely usable” currency is defined in the IMF’s Articles of Agreement as a member’s currency that the Fund determines is, in fact, widely used to make payments for international transactions, and is widely traded in the principal exchange markets.
The primary mission of the International Monetary Fund is the promotion of international financial stability and monetary cooperation. In periods of crisis, the use of SDRs is aimed at reassuring financial markets of the fact that the national central bank can access funds in foreign currencies without selling reserve assets on the currency markets. However, the financial support solutions adopted by IMF do not lie solely in the allocation of SDRs: here are some other options and, most importantly, we can see how they are referred to in Italian.
The “Stand-by arrangement” or “SBA” (known in Italian as an Accordo di stand-by) is one of the main and longest-serving tools of the Fund, having been introduced in June 1952 and later updated in 2009. This economic program is aimed at helping countries resolve temporary deficits in balance of payments. Meanwhile, the “Stand-By Credit Facility” (SCF) has no equivalent term in Italian, and is simply referred to in the original English form. Used by emerging countries, it was recently considered as an emergency resource (along with SBA) to assist Senegal. “Policy Coordination Instrument” (PCI), which is referenced in the article, differs from other terms as it refers to a non-financing tool. Of course, tools adopted by the IMF are also known in Italy by their English names, such as the “Extended Credit Facility” (ECF), the “Staff Monitored Program” (SMP), the “Precautionary and Liquidity Line” (PLL), etc. Some funding options, despite being well-known in their English guise, are also referred to with names translated into Italian. The Agevolazione ampliata di credito dell’FMI is the relatively established EU name for the Extended Fund Facility (EFF); “Exogenous Shocks Facility” is sometimes translated as strumento di protezione dalle variabili esogene dell’IMF, but is certainly not an established translation (note the English acronym “IMF”, which should be avoided here, as opposed to FMI). References can also be found to linea di credito flessibile dell’FMI and strumento di finanziamento rapido as respective translations of “Flexible Credit Line” (FCL) and “Rapid Financing Instrument” (RFI), but both terms seem to be more working translations of convenience rather than officially accepted solutions; thus it would be advisable to discourage their use unless accompanied by the English term. The IMF “emergency assistance” is, however, constantly translated as assistenza di emergenza, referring to the Fund’s activity regarding countries afflicted by natural disasters or wars. And these are just some of the financial instruments increasingly used by the International Monetary Fund, which can of course be found on the official website https://www.imf.org. Arkadia Translations’ specialised translators use this and other tools to identify the most commonly-accepted translation of finance terminology, always taking into account the end user of the document. If it is for a non-specialist reading audience, it may be advisable to use a clear translation such as agevolazione ampliata di credito, while professional investors prefer the English term “Extended Fund Facility”, as it immediately references a specific tool. Turning to expert translators is always a guarantee of accuracy and clarity with regard to financial communication.