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The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is an international organization formed in 1944, headquartered in Washington, D.C., consisting of 189 countries working for international financial stability & cooperation.

Quotes

The IMF at a Glance (22 March 2019)

  • The International Monetary Fund, or IMF, promotes international financial stability and monetary cooperation. It also facilitates international trade, promotes employment and sustainable economic growth, and helps to reduce global poverty. The IMF is governed by and accountable to its 189 member countries.
  • Founding and mission: The IMF was conceived in July 1944 at the United Nations Bretton Woods Conference in New Hampshire, United States. The 44 countries in attendance sought to build a framework for international economic cooperation and avoid repeating the competitive currency devaluations that contributed to the Great Depression of the 1930s. The IMF's primary mission is to ensure the stability of the international monetary system—the system of exchange rates and international payments that enables countries and their citizens to transact with each other.
  • Providing loans to member countries that are experiencing actual or potential balance-of-payments problems is a core responsibility of the IMF. Individual country adjustment programs are designed in close cooperation with the IMF and are supported by IMF financing, and ongoing financial support is dependent on effective implementation of these adjustments.
  • The IMF provides technical assistance and training to help member countries build better economic institutions and strengthen related human capacities. This includes, for example, designing and implementing more effective policies for taxation and administration, expenditure management, monetary and exchange rate policies, banking and financial system supervision and regulation, legislative frameworks, and economic statistics.

In Conversation with Kristalina Georgieva on Pursuing a Green Economic Recovery" (16 Sep 2020)

(Full text IMF Communications Department)

  • We know that the changing climate is triggering catastrophic weather events. And we know that unless we act decisively to mitigate the causes and adapt to the changes in the climate, we are going to be in very deep trouble. So, why is this relevant for the IMF? The reason is straightforward. Our mandate is stability, growth, employment and improving in living standards. We are not going to have stability unless we address the climate crisis.
  • We can address the COVID the recovery that is necessary and we can address the climate crisis... We are committed to support our members with analytical work and through the programs we finance for an accelerated transition to a future of low-carbon climate-resilient growth... In the near term, giving priority to green investment in the recovery packages would support job-rich growth. As the economies recover, a gradual increase in carbon prices, well anchored in forward guidance, would provide much needed revenues and create a virtuous circle of adjustments in consumer behavior and new investments.
  • The current crisis is both a risk and an opportunity. It would be short-sighted to go back to the economy of yesterday with its problems of growing inequality. We should look forward and take the opportunity to build a bridge to something better: a world that is fairer and more equitable; greener and more sustainable, smarter and above all more resilient.

Quotes about

1950s

  • If it is an element of liberation for Latin America, I believe that it should have demonstrated that. Until now, I have not been aware of any such demonstration. The IMF performs an entirely different function: precisely that of ensuring that capital based outside of Latin America controls all of Latin America.
    • Che Guevara, Regarding the International Monetary Fund, in an interview for Radio Rivadavia of Argentina (3 November 1959)
If it is an element of liberation for Latin America, I believe that it should have demonstrated that... The IMF performs an entirely different function: precisely that of ensuring that capital based outside of Latin America controls all of Latin America. ~ Che Guevara
  • The interests of the IMF represent the big international interests that today seem to be established and concentrated in Wall Street.
    • Che Guevara, Regarding the IMF, in an interview for Radio Rivadavia of Argentina (3 November 1959)

1990s

  • What happens to the political sovereignty of poor countries that do not have the infrastructure that is available in Europe and north America when they are told that, because of the debt crisis, they must open up their economies to multinational capital to do whatever it will, and when the IMF and the World bank tell them that they must cut social expenditure? They are now told that they must pursue free trade policies for farm products. Those policies add up to disaster for poor countries.
    • Jeremy Corbyn Speech in the House of Commons (23 November 1990).
The IMF and World Bank are still appalling, and now the World Trade Organisation too. All over the world people die unnecessarily because of the international financial system. Every year the international financial system kills more people than World War II. ~ Ken Livingstone

2000s

  • The IMF and World Bank are still appalling, and now the World Trade Organisation too. All over the world people die unnecessarily because of the international financial system. Every year the international financial system kills more people than World War II. But at least Hitler was mad.
  • It is almost enough to make one's jaw drop to think that officials at the World Bank and the IMF would suggest that they have poverty alleviation in mind when they force governments to withdraw subsidies that enable poor people to get clean water to drink. If this is a policy aimed at helping the world's poor, it's interesting to imagine what a policy aimed at hurting the world's poor would look like.
    • Linda McQuaig, All You Can Eat: Greed, Lust and the New Capitalism (2001)
  • Both Hindu, as well as Islamic fundamentalism, feed on the poverty of the masses.
    • Michel Chossudovsky in The Globalization of Poverty and the New World Order (2003) Chapter 10, India: The IMF'S "Indirect Rule", p. 155
  • Macro-economic reform undermined the legal economy, reinforced illicit trade and contributed to the recycling of "dirty money" towards Peru's official and commercial creditors.
    • Michel Chossudovsky in The Globalization of Poverty and the New World Order (2003) Chapter 14, IMF Shock Treatment in Peru, p. 225
  • Legal and illegal activities had become inextricably intertwined.
    • Michel Chossudovsky in The Globalization of Poverty and the New World Order (2003) Chapter 18, Albania's IMF Sponsored Financial Disaster, p. 293
  • Only the American controlled sovereignty of IMF and World Bank are allowed, along with the strong national sovereignty of the US. Little and medium countries have been encouraged to divide themselves - occurred in former Yugoslavia, in Czechoslovakia, and was attempted in Northern Italy - or to dismiss their personality in favour of supranational organizations - in fact directed by the US (p. 141).
    • Nico Perrone The international economy from a political to an authoritative drive (2003)
  • Bolivia has this long record of giving into the I.M.F. and the World Bank, privatizing their resources, like their power company and their water company. And the people of Bolivia were fed up with this... so Evo Morales ran on this ticket that said, “I’m not going to put up with this anymore.” .. The reason he was elected.. has to do with the extreme frustration and anger of the Bolivian people, of how they’ve been exploited and how the I.M.F. and the World Bank have insisted that they turn their resources over to foreign corporations. And also, you know, part of the World Trade Organization policies is that we insist that countries like Bolivia not subsidize their local industries and products, but that they accept our subsidies of them, and that they not erect any barriers against our goods coming in there, but they accept the barriers that we erect against their goods. And people around the world, Amy, are getting fed up with this. 300 million Latin Americans — South Americans out of 360 million, over 80% have voted for these types of candidates.... people like Evo Morales, really looked to Hugo Chavez as an example of someone who’s had the staying power. He’s been able to stay there, despite the fact that the (G.W. Bush) administration has spoken so strongly against him and is so angry...
  • The IMF has been encouraging, sometimes even forcing (as condition of assistance), countries to have their central banks focus only on inflation. Europe succumbed to these doctrines. Today, throughout Euroland, there is unhappiness as the European Central Bank pursues a monetary policy that, while it may do wonders for bond markets by keeping inflation low and bond prices high, has left Europe's growth and employment in shambles.
  • The non-institutional elements of Bretton Woods, such as the gold-backed dollar standard, have gone by the wayside, but the World Bank and the IMF soldier on... Western governments tax their citizens to fund the World Bank, lend this money to corrupt Third World dictators who abscond with the funds, and then demand repayment which is extracted through taxation from poor Third World citizens, rather than from the government officials responsible for the embezzlement. It is in essence a global transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich.

2010s

  • Oil prices crashed, and Venezuela could not repay its debts. In 1989, the IMF imposed harsh austerity measures and pressured Caracas to support the corporatocracy in many other ways. Venezuelans reacted violently; riots killed over two hundred people. The illusion of oil as a bottomless source of support was shattered. Between 1978 and 2003, Venezuela's per capita income plummeted by over 40 percent... As poverty increased, resentment intensified. Polarization resulted, with the middle class pitted against the poor. As so often occurs in countries whose economies depend on oil production, demographics radically shifted. The sinking economy took its toll on the middle class, and many fell into the ranks of the poor. The new demographics set the stage for Chavez — - and for conflict with Washington...
  • Throughout the 1980s and 90s, when many developing countries were in crisis and borrowing money from the International Monetary Fund, waves of protests in those countries became known as the "IMF riots". They were so called because they were sparked by the fund's structural adjustment programmes, which imposed austerity, privatisation and deregulation. The IMF complained that calling these riots thus was unfair, as it had not caused the crises and was only prescribing a medicine, but this was largely self-serving. Many of the crises had actually been caused by the asset bubbles built up following IMF-recommended financial deregulation. Moreover, those rioters were not just expressing general discontent but reacting against the austerity measures that directly threatened their livelihoods, such as cuts in subsidies to basic commodities such as food and water, and cuts in already meagre welfare payments.
    The IMF programme, in other words, met such resistance because its designers had forgotten that behind the numbers they were crunching were real people. These criticisms, as well as the ineffectiveness of its economic programme, became so damaging that the IMF has made a lot of changes in the past decade or so. It has become more cautious in pushing for financial deregulation and austerity programmes, renamed its structural adjustment programmes as poverty reduction programmes, and has even (marginally) increased the voting shares of the developing countries in its decision-making.
  • This is the back story of the U.S. fight to control the rest of the world. Tearing apart the IMF’s rules is only the most recent chapter. The broad drive against Russia, China and their prospective Eurasian allies has deteriorated into tactics without a realistic understanding of how they are bringing about precisely the kind of world they are seeking to prevent – a multilateral world.
  • Today’s obscene levels of inequality are the result of the Neo-Liberal economic system. This extreme form of capitalism took hold first in America and Britain in the early 1980s when Reagan and Thatcher ruled, workers’ rights were trampled on, ‘society’ was a dirty word and community responsibility was abandoned to selfishness and greed. With the aid of the World Bank and the IMF, Neo-Liberalism swiftly spread throughout the world, polluting life in every city, town and village with its divisive, cruel ideology. Commercialization and competition are key principles, and have infiltrated every area of contemporary life; everything and everyone is seen as a commodity, and the size of one’s bank account determines the level of healthcare, education and housing available, as well as one’s access to culture and freedom to travel.
  • Newly installed World Bank Group president David Malpass said on Thursday that the development lender is preparing to become "deeply involved" in Venezuela, "but the situation is still troublesome on the ground". Speaking at a press conference on the opening day of the joint World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) spring meetings, Malpass said that Venezuela is a "deep concern" for the World Bank, but that any decision to intervene in the country or recognise opposition leader Juan Guaido as Venezuela's president would be left to the World Bank's stakeholders... Venezuela is in the throes of a prolonged and worsening economic crisis that has led to severe shortages of food, life-saving medicines and electricity. More than 50 nations including the United States have thrown their support behind the country's self-proclaimed interim president, Juan Guaido. Russia, China, Turkey and Cuba support President Nicolas Maduro, who has vowed to remain in power.
  • Its job is to do in the financial sphere what, in the past, was done by military force. The purpose of a military conquest is to take control of foreign economies, to take control of their land and impose tribute. The genius of the World Bank was to recognize that it’s not necessary to occupy a country in order to impose tribute, or to take over its industry, agriculture and land. Instead of bullets, it uses financial maneuvering. As long as other countries play an artificial economic game that U.S. diplomacy can control, finance is able to achieve today what used to require bombing and loss of life by soldiers.
    In this case the loss of life occurs in the debtor countries. Population growth shrinks, suicides go up. The World Bank engages in economic warfare that is just as destructive as military warfare. At the end of the Yeltsin period Russia’s President Putin said that American neoliberalism destroyed more of Russia’s population than did World War II. Such neoliberalism, which basically is the doctrine of American supremacy and foreign dependency, is the policy of the World Bank and IMF.
  • [The World Bank]... was set up basically by the United States in 1944, along with its sister institution, the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Their purpose was to create an international order like a funnel to make other countries economically dependent on the United States. To make sure that no other country or group of countries – even all the rest of the world – could not dictate U.S. policy. American diplomats insisted on the ability to veto any action by the World Bank or IMF. The aim of this veto power was to make sure that any policy was, in Donald Trump’s words, to put America first. “We’ve got to win and they’ve got to lose.”
  • The World Bank doesn’t make loans for projects that help the country develop in its own currency. By making only foreign currency loans, in dollars or maybe euros now, the World Bank says that its clients have to repay by generating foreign currency. The only way they can repay the dollars spent on American engineering firms that have built their infrastructure is to export – to earn enough dollars to pay back for the money that the World Bank or IMF have lent.
  • This is what John Perkinsbook (2004) about being an economic hit man for the World Bank is all about. He realized that his job was to get countries to borrow dollars to build huge projects that could only be paid for by the country exporting more – which required breaking its labor unions and lowering wages so that it could be competitive in the race to the bottom that the World Bank and IMF encourage... to do in the financial sphere what, in the past, was done by military force... Instead of bullets, it uses financial maneuvering. As long as other countries play an artificial economic game that U.S. diplomacy can control, finance is able to achieve today what used to require bombing and loss of life by soldiers. In this case the loss of life occurs in the debtor countries. Population growth shrinks, suicides go up. The World Bank engages in economic warfare that is just as destructive as military warfare.,, At the end of the Yeltsin period Russia’s President Putin said that American neoliberalism destroyed more of Russia’s population than did World War II. Such neoliberalism, which basically is the doctrine of American supremacy and foreign dependency, is the policy of the World Bank and IMF.
  • For the past 40 years, the IMF has had the same agenda: to make sure that developing countries adhere to the rules of globalization set by the advanced capitalist states... Over these four decades, fires have burned on the streets of the countries that have gone to the IMF and then forced austerity upon their populations. In the 1980s, these uprisings used to be called “IMF riots.” It was clear to everyone that the IMF’s policies had provoked desperate people to take to the streets. The name given to these riots was precise. The emphasis had to be on the IMF and not on the riots themselves. The most famous of these riots took place in Venezuela—the Caracazo of 1989—which opened up a process that brought Hugo Chavez to power and that created the Bolivarian Revolution. It is reasonable to call the Arab Spring of 2011 an IMF riot because it was provoked by IMF austerity policies combined with rising food prices. The current unrest from Pakistan to Ecuador should be filed under IMF riot... The main lesson of these uprisings is not only that the people want fuel subsidies or a stable currency; what they want more than anything is democratic control over their own economy.
  • The consequences of IMF orthodoxy are often deadly, with the Malawi case as one very painful episode. In 1996, the IMF staff pushed the government of Malawi to privatize its agricultural development and marketing corporation. This body held Malawi’s grain stock, and it regulated the price for the sale of grain in the country. Privatization of the corporation in 1999 left Malawi’s government without a means to protect its population in case of an emergency. Between October 2001 and March 2002, the price of maize shot up by 400 percent. Flooding in 2000-2001 and a year of drought set the food production in the country into distress. People began to die of starvation... The IMF did not relent. Malawi had to continue to service its debt. In 2002, it spent $70 million on its debt service payments, which was 20 percent of its national budget (more than Malawi spent on health, education, and agriculture combined). There was no lifeline through to Malawi, whose food crisis continues till today... No one within the IMF meeting will raise the question of democracy, both in terms of the IMF’s own functioning and in terms of the IMF’s relationship with sovereign countries around the world.
  • Consider a recent IMF loan. In March, Ecuador signed an agreement to borrow $4.2bn from the IMF over three years, provided that the government would adhere to a certain economic program spelled out in the arrangement... The program calls for an enormous tightening of the country’s national budget – about 6% of GDP over the next three years. (For comparison, imagine tightening the US federal budget by $1.4 trillion, through some combination of cutting spending and raising taxes). In Ecuador, this will include firing tens of thousands of public sector employees, raising taxes that fall disproportionately on poor people, and making cuts to public investment.
  • All this [in Ecuador] is taking place under a government – elected in 2017 on a platform of continuity – that seeks to reverse a prior decade of political reforms. These reforms were, by measures of economic and social indicators, successful. Poverty was reduced by 38% and extreme poverty by 47%; public investment – including hospitals, schools, roads, and electricity – more than doubled as a percent of the economy. But the prior government was a leftwing government that was more independent of the US (by, for example, closing down the US military base there). One can imagine what this looks like, as the Trump administration now gains enormous power in Ecuador... Lenín Moreno, has aligned himself with Trump’s foreign and economic policy... his government is persecuting his presidential predecessor, Rafael Correa, with false charges filed last year that even Interpol won’t honor with an international warrant.... Since Washington controls IMF decision-making for this hemisphere, the Trump administration and the fund are implicated in the political repression as well as the broader attempt to reconvert Ecuador into the kind of economy and politics that Trump and Pompeo would like to see, but most Ecuadorians clearly did not vote for.

2020s

*If you had the opportunity to save a million people from preventable death, would you do it?... The IMF leadership, and almost all of the 189 member countries — including U.S. allies such as Germany and Canada — are ready to allocate the aid that Congress is considering. The reason it hasn’t already been approved at the IMF is that the U.S. Treasury has said no, and the U.S. — alone — has a veto at the IMF on this matter... ~ Mark Weisbrot
  • Denying medicines to Iran and Venezuela is a crime against humanity... One of the most truly despicable aspects of the coronavirus is how it is being exploited by Washington to punish countries like Iran and Venezuela, currently the enemy-designates of the inside the Beltway crowd... Iran is...seeking a $5 billion IMF emergency loan to cope with the crisis, a request that will almost certainly also be torpedoed by the Trump Administration.
  • Without sweeping relief, poor nations could be forced to “dedicate money that should be going towards protecting the health and safety of their people to pay off unsustainable debts. We cannot allow these countries to be deprived of the resources they need to purchase food, medicine, protective gear, and medical equipment. The steps that our international coalition of lawmakers is proposing are not radical. It is the very least that these financial institutions should do to prevent an unimaginable increase in poverty, hunger, and disease that threatens hundreds of millions of people.
  • If you had the opportunity to save a million people from preventable death, would you do it? … This is not merely a rhetorical question, but one that members of the Congress will have to answer in the present. … Right now, legislation has already passed the House of Representatives that would do just that. And it was included in the newly released COVID relief bill that is being negotiated between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. It would require the Treasury Department, which represents our government at the International Monetary Fund (IMF), to support a multi-trillion dollar relief package from the Fund. These funds are not loans and therefore will not have to be repaid. They have no conditions attached to them. And they do not cost the U.S. government anything at all — not now, and not at any time in the future.
  • The IMF leadership, and almost all of the 189 member countries — including U.S. allies such as Germany and Canada — are ready to allocate the aid that Congress is considering. The reason it hasn’t already been approved at the IMF is that the U.S. Treasury has said no, and the U.S. — alone — has a veto at the IMF on this matter. .. [I]t’s not at all clear why the Treasury is blocking this desperately needed aid. … Nor is there any reason that it should be a partisan issue … Of course the Congress has a lot on its plate, and is having trouble passing further relief that millions of Americans need to pay their bills and for many, even have enough to eat. But all indications are that Congress will pass major spending bills before the end of the year, including funding to avoid a government shutdown. It would take almost no effort to include the House or Senate bill that would unblock Treasury’s hold on the IMF funding… ”

See Also

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