Economic crisis getting worse: IMF
Inside a cavernous assembly hall in downtown Washington, dignitaries gather twice a year for routine meetings of the International Monetary Fund. Before long, though, the room could take center stage in the IMF’s transformation into a veritable United Nations for the global economy.
Surrounded by blond wood paneling and a digital screen the size of a cinema’s, central bankers and finance ministers would meet to convene a financial security council of sorts. Serving almost as ambassadors to the IMF, they would debate ways to put out the world’s economic fires and stifle reckless policies before they ignite new ones.
Bowing to a new economic world order, the IMF would grant fresh powers to the likes of China, India and Brazil. It would have vastly expanded authority to act as a global banker to governments rich and poor. And with more flexibility to effectively print its own money, it would have the ability to inject liquidity into global markets in a way once limited to major central banks, including the U.S. Federal Reserve.
That image of a radically transformed IMF — whose role in the global economy had turned largely advisory in recent years — is now coming together through internal IMF documents, interviews and think-tank reports. Finance ministers from major nations will begin grappling with the formidable details of the IMF’s makeover this weekend when they converge in Washington for the fund’s biannual assembly.
The changes, broadly outlined by President Obama and other leaders of the Group of 20 nations in London earlier this month, could take months, even years to take shape. But the IMF is all but certain to take a central role in managing the world economy. As a result, Washington is poised to become the power center for global financial policy, much as the United Nations has long made New York the world center for diplomacy.
The IMF’s mission is expanding so broadly that its managing director, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, said in an interview that the organization — which underwent deep cuts last year before the financial crisis swept the globe — may boost staffing in coming months, potentially creating dozens of high-paying jobs in the District.
“The IMF is changing, and with it, there will be a sea change in the way the world economy is run,” said C. Fred Bergsten, director of the Peterson Institute for International Economics. “Their role will dramatically shift. You’re talking about monitoring fiscal stimulus, moving toward tighter regulations for financial institutions. You’re talking about global economic management in a way we have never seen.”
Already, the economic crisis is triggering a profound cultural shift, with the IMF moving away from its long-held mission to spread the gospel of capitalism around the globe.
Founded at the end of World War II to maintain stability in global currency markets, it later became known as the lender of last resort for nations in crisis, particularly as financial fires raced across Asia and Latin America in the 1990s. Its bailouts, however, were the bane of many poor countries; they often came with demands for fiscal austerity and free-market reform as the cures for developing nations — even if that meant nations had to cut back on programs for health care and schools. Full Story
What is the IMF?
The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank were created in 1944 at a conference in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, and are now based in Washington, DC. The IMF was originally designed to promote international economic cooperation and provide its member countries with short term loans so they could trade with other countries (achieve balance of payments). Since the debt crisis of the 1980’s, the IMF has assumed the role of bailing out countries during financial crises (caused in large part by currency speculation in the global casino economy) with emergency loan packages tied to certain conditions, often referred to as structural adjustment policies (SAPs). The IMF now acts like a global loan shark, exerting enormous leverage over the economies of more than 60 countries. These countries have to follow the IMF’s policies to get loans, international assistance, and even debt relief. Thus, the IMF decides how much debtor countries can spend on education, health care, and environmental protection. The IMF is one of the most powerful institutions on Earth — yet few know how it works.
1. The IMF has created an immoral system of modern day colonialism that SAPs the poor
2. The IMF serves wealthy countries and Wall Street
3. The IMF is imposing a fundamentally flawed development mode
4. The IMF is a secretive institution with no accountability
5. IMF policies promote corporate welfare
6. The IMF hurts workers
7. The IMF’s policies hurt women the most
8. IMF Policies hurt the environment
9. The IMF bails out rich bankers, creating a moral hazard and greater instability in the global economy
10. IMF bailouts deepen, rather then solve, economic crisis
Read the explanations for the Top Ten Reasons