IMF’s new head economist is imaginative realist

July 21, 2015

Maurice Obstfeld will bring a nuanced approach to the global lender. The Berkeley professor emphasises the importance of strong institutions and is doubtful about pure market dogma. His pragmatic respect for the nuances could help both developing economies and the euro zone.

What Lagarde should’ve told Smith College’s grads

May 14, 2014

The fund’s boss wimped out of speaking at the women’s college’s commencement after a petition accused the IMF of supporting “patriarchal systems.” That critique is old hat. Lagarde’s IMF has fostered social spending and female rights. Here’s what she ought to have said.

Supersized IMF not just for little guy bailouts

December 12, 2011

Europe’s promise to lend another $270 bln takes the fund’s pot over $1 trln. The move also raises the chance of fat contributions from the BRICs, who have insisted on more euro zone self-help. The muscled-up fund may soon have the scale to help rescue big nations like Spain.

Why it’s hard to shut down a Spanish bank

June 18, 2012

EU Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said this week that it could make sense to liquidate a bank if the costs of keeping it alive with public money exceed the costs of closing it down. That sounds sensible. But in Spain, it’s not that simple.

Global economy not as healthy as it looks

January 25, 2011

The global economy is not as healthy as it looks. Inflation has reared its ugly head across the globe, suggesting that many economies are growing faster than can be sustained without structural changes.

IMF crowd should cut Japan some slack

April 19, 2013

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s economic policies are in for a drubbing at the fund’s spring meeting. IMF officials bemoan Japan’s “risky” fiscal stimulus while America grumbles about the yen. But Japan, which is one of the IMF’s staunchest supporters, was right to act.

Ukraine bailout can work if politics are fixed

March 27, 2014

The IMF has announced a $14-$18 bln aid package for Ukraine conditioned on medium-term reforms. Kiev will get emergency relief while pain is delayed. But the Fund’s third attempt to help will only work if Ukraine gets a stable and decent government after the May election.

Opening up the IMF country club

September 28, 2009

The International Monetary Fund has been the comeback kid of the financial crisis. Since the meltdown, it has been lavished with favors, including a trebling of its lending capacity and many new responsibilities. The weekend's G20 meeting set the seal on a Lazarus-like revival.