The IMF to turn on the rich

October 11, 2010

The latest International Monetary Fund meeting ended with emerging market powers getting a pledge from the organisation for stronger and “more even-handed” scrutiny of what is going on in large advanced economies.

As Reuters correspondents Lesley Wroughton and Emily Kaiser report here, the decision is a response to long-running frustrations among emerging economies, which reckon the Fund has  not been tough enough on its biggest shareholders, led by the United States.

The move reflects a number of things. First, it shows the growing clout of emerging economies within international institutions. The G-20, for example, is arguably now more influential than the old , richer G7. Secondly, it graphically underlines the current world-turned-upside-down state of the global economy, in which profligate rich economies are struggling to keep above water while supposedly poorer and less-developed ones enjoy solid growth and relatively stable finances. This graph makes the point:

GLB_G7GDP1010

One question  that has been raised, meanwhile, is whether the IMF is capable of taking rich countries — its primary paymasters — to task.  A comment from a craigbhill on the Reuters story encapsulates the issue:

This is like the bankers to the Mafia being politely asked to “give scrutiny” to the Mafia.

A bit harsh. But valid?

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