Lenihan admits Irish economy was overheated – The Irish Times – Thu, Jun 25, 2009

Mr Lenihan said the report from the global financial watchdog had been supportive of the recent measures taken by the Government to try and address these problems.

That line tells you so much about modern Ireland. Pointing up the fact that the IMF is backing you on your economic policies is rather like saying Dennis Nilsen supports your strategy for dealing with the homeless. Either Lenihan really thinks that praise from the IMF is praise indeed because he is a fully convinced neo-liberal stooge, or he has such contempt for the listeners that, like Brian Cowen’s references to the thoughts of ‘independent commentators’, he’s betting they’ll be convinced that if the smart boyos from some international body say it is so, then it must be true.

The other thing of note is the reference to the IMF as a ‘financial watchdog’, as though it were some respected body of disinterested expertise and not the hired goons for the financiers of the international capitalist class.

2 Responses to “Imfamy”

  1. 1 Donagh June 25, 2009 at 1:56 pm

    Yea, its like they’re accountants with blue helmets. The meetings between IMF staff and Irish officials was probably more loving than fighting and its difficult to know where the IMF document ends and government policy begins, such will be the similarities from here on in.

    For example, I’d say we’ll see these recommendations followed to the letter come December:

    The authorities recognize that it will be necessary to articulate a strategy that moves away from universalism in social welfare to one that relies more on targeting and incentives. In this regard, means testing or taxation of child benefits is under discussion. Consideration could also be given to earned income tax credits as a way of supporting lower income families, as also to the indexing of benefits to more appropriate price baskets. Also, a more nuanced minimum wage structure that allows, for example, for age-related differentials could help competitiveness and also reduce social transfers.

    Although the stuff about the minumum wage was fixed in the talks with social partners the other day, but then I presume the government had an advance copy.

  2. 2 Hugh Green June 25, 2009 at 2:07 pm

    And the IMF has such a wonderful track record:

    CEPR – IMF Shouldn’t Get Money Without Reform

    The IMF has a track record, which seems to have been almost completely ignored in discussions of a proposed $750 billion increase in its resources. Nearly twelve years ago a financial crisis hit Thailand, South Korea, Indonesia, the Philippines and Malaysia. The word “contagion” became part of the financial reporting lexicon as the crisis spread to Russia, Brazil, Argentina and other countries.

    The IMF’s response to that crisis was roundly criticized by economists at the time. Jeffrey Sachs, then at the Harvard Institute for International Development, called the IMF “the Typhoid Mary of emerging markets, spreading recessions in country after country.” Nobel Laureate economist Joseph Stiglitz, also criticized the Fund for its mishandling of the Asian crisis, and went on to write systematic critiques of a number of IMF policies.

    In the Asian crisis, the Fund failed to provide desperately needed foreign exchange when it was most needed. It then imposed policies that worsened the downturn. It did the same in Argentina, and lent tens of billions of dollars to prop up an unsustainable exchange rate, which inevitably collapsed along with a record sovereign debt default.

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