What crisis? Everything must (not) change so that the IMF can remain the same.

During the last years, some economists at the International Monetary Fund (IMF)  have presented papers, that allegedly rejected several neoliberal ideas (on a range of issues, from fiscal policy to capital controls) which have been preached and enforced by its bureaucrats for decades.
This interesting (open access) article  by Matias Vernengo and Kirsten Ford shows that’s too early to start celebrating. A close reading of recent editions of the World Economic Outlook- the main economic report produced by the IMF, and its Global Financial Stability Report, leads to a certain imf political econonomyskepticism regarding the changing ways of this traditionally conservative neoliberal international institution. The authors draw attention to some of the principal theoretical viewpoints made clear in these reports that must be taken into consideration in an assessment of the nature and extent of change the IMF lays claim to, while considering the broader context of the mainstream of the economics profession to which this institution is so well attuned. Further, the article reviews policy advice attached to the recent country arrangements of three advanced capitalist countries for indications of any change in policy advice despite the lack of genuine change in the theoretical underpinnings of its main reports.
It is concluded that even a most optimistic reading of IMF reports and country arrangements disappoints. The power structure ultimately remains the same: the IMF continues to be the mechanism through which creditor countries enforce contractionary policy on indebted countries. The IMF is still excessively preoccupied with debt levels, fiscal rigidity and the unwarranted fears of inflation– and all of these are ultimately associated with a belief in a “natural tendency” of the “economic system” and “seal-adjusted markets”.

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