A global taxation system, as proposed by the IMF

April 29, 2010
IMF suggests Global taxes on all banks History is made What have they put in the water supply at the IMF? First they see the light on capital controls, and now they’re putting out ground-breaking ideas on the international taxation of banks. I’ve been reading the supposedly confidential (but available on the BBC website – if you have problems with

The IMF debates the crisis and industrial policy

March 23, 2010
The Hanoi Hilton, IMF, Robert Wade and jet lag. One strange day. [any feedback on these wonku summaries, introduced in response to the reader survey?] My week in Vietnam kicks off with a weird jet-lagged day at the Hanoi Hilton c/o the IMF and the Vietnam State Bank, who organized a conference on ‘Post Crisis Growth and Poverty Reduction in

More IMF revisionism, this time on capital controls

February 22, 2010
Another day, another IMF U turn, this time in a ‘Staff Position Note’ on capital controls by Ostry, Ghosh, Habermeier, Chamon, Qureshi, and Reinhardt (they seem to prefer writing by committee at the Fund – personally, I’m with Sartre: ‘hell is other people’). This comes hard on the heels of its recent rethink on inflation, part of a laudable institutional

A big rethink at the IMF, with subtitles for non-economists

February 19, 2010
The IMF is doing some very interesting (and praiseworthy) rethinking in response to the global crisis, if a new paper co-authored by its chief economist Olivier Blanchard is anything to go by. It’s written by and for economists, so it’s not exactly bedtime reading (unless you’re an insomniac), but here’s the highlights, and my attempts at translation. Overview: ‘The great

Breakfast (and climate change megabucks) with George Soros

December 16, 2009
Last week George Soros was passing through London and invited a bunch of NGO types for breakfast at his very nice house in South Kensington. (In case you’re interested we all got sticky pastries, but George made do with grapefruit and muesli). He was en route to Copenhagen to launch his big new idea – using the IMF to pump

Has the IMF really changed? Academic arm-wrestling from Washington…..

November 18, 2009
A new report from the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington DC tries to work out whether the IMF has really changed its thinking in response to the global economic crisis and the general perception that countercyclical responses (rather than belt-tightening austerity) are the right way to go in a recession. After a (fairly polite) public row with

Is financial independence for the IMF a good thing?

October 1, 2009
Ngaire Woods, a veteran IMF watcher, came and briefed us on the Fund and the crisis, based on her recent paper for the European Parliament. Here are some highlights: There is a gulf between public perceptions that the IMF is helping the poorest countries, and the reality, that it’s main role has been sorting out the financial disaster in Eastern

The UN lays into finance, speculation and the IMF: UNCTAD’s Trade and Development Report 2009

September 17, 2009
Another day, another UN report, this time the Trade and Development Report 2009, from the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), released last week. It’s surprisingly forthright. Set up in 1964, in the table-thumping days of the New International Economic Order, in recent years UNCTAD had become markedly more cautious, not least under its current secretary general, the distinctly un-fiery

Latest Growth Projections for Developing Countries: Asia doing better, everywhere else worse

July 9, 2009
The IMF has just revised April’s World Economic Outlook growth projections for 2009 and 2010 (see table). Here’s the summary on developing countries: ‘Emerging and developing economies are projected to regain growth momentum during the second half of 2009, albeit with notable regional differences. Low-income countries are facing important challenges of their own because official aid has fallen and these

More evidence that the IMF is going Keynesian on Africa, at least on paper

June 5, 2009
The IMF shows some encouraging signs of turning policy promises into practice in its new Staff Position Note on how governments in Africa should respond to the crisis. It still wins no prizes for sparkling prose, alas: Overview: ‘Countries will need to weigh their options for fiscal policy responses. Countries with output gaps and sustainable debt and financing options have

IMF 2.0 or same old, same old – has the Fund really changed its tune?

May 7, 2009
Has the G20 revived the neoliberal, austerity-wielding IMF of the 1980s and 90s, are has it ushered in a new IMF 2.0 (in the words of Time Magazine) that cares about countercyclical economic policies, public services and jobs? In late April, IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Khan wrote to NGOs saying ‘I would like to make it clear that we do not

What the IMF will be discussing this weekend

April 20, 2009
The global diplomatic circus that so recently met at the G20 summit in London is reconvening in Washington for the IMF and World Bank spring meetings this weekend. These are usually the lesser of the Bretton Woods Institutions’ (BWIs) two yearly jamborees (the Annual Meetings are held in September) but the momentum provided by both the G20 and the unfolding global