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Putting the “Fun” Back in the Fund

How can the battered IMF get back on track?

April 11, 2000

How can the battered IMF get back on track?

Ask ten different people what they think about the International Monetary Fund — and you will likely get ten different, strongly-held opinions. But as the IMF tries to adapt to new demands from global financial markets, even this discord can be instructive. Our collection of quotes brings together supporters and critics of the IMF from emerging markets, Europe and the United States.

What will the future course of the IMF be?

“It’s clear that globalization has cut into a nerve. Many people want more say — and they should get it.”

(World Bank President James Wolfensohn, April 2000)

Any dangers lurching ahead?

“We run the risk of winning the battle of debt — but losing the development war.”

(Former IMF Managing Director Michel Camdessusm, June 1999)

How should the global economy be influenced?

“If we are serious about preventing a global race to the bottom, we must be serious about helping those at the bottom to rise up.”

(U.S. Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, March 2000)

Did the global economy change the IMF?

“I know that there is some nostalgia for a mythical ‘good old fund’ — limited to a narrow scope of concerns. This would obviously be a recipe for irrelevance in today’s world.”

(Michel Camdessus, December 1999)

What contributed to the Fund’s bad PR?

“Underneath it all is a feeling that globalization has not brought the benefits to the poor as promised. The architecture of the world financial system is decided by finance ministers behind closed doors, but farmers and small businessmen are the ones who get hurt.”

(Harvard economics professor Jeffrey Sachs, April 2000)

How do policy makers view the IMF?

“It is hard to believe that the public will be willing to defer on a sustained basis to the expertise of professors — however brilliant.”

(Columnist Paul Krugman, January 1999)

Why do anti-globalization protests make the Fund’s work so difficult at times?

“The biggest challenge for this week’s meetings? Getting into the building.”

(Financial Times editorial page, April 2000)

Does the IMF at times get too self-important?

“They shouldn’t be given the proconsular job of running the world.”

(Jeffrey Sachs, June 1999)

What are someof the IMF’s biggest achievements?

“We created the conditions that obliged President Suharto to leave his job.”

(Michel Camdessus, November 1999)

How do people from emerging markets perceive the IMF?

“Why should the rest of the world have faith in us if we don’t demonstrate faith in our own ability to identify problems and not only announce solutions, but carry them out?”