The IMF, World Bank and the WTO
Peter Coffey INTRODUCTION As was stressed in the introductory chapter to this book, the IMF and the World Bank, 60 years after their birth, do indeed stand at a crossroads. Thus, no time could be more opportune than the present to examine these organisations – their original roles, their record, current issues and problems and their possible future roles. In the specific case of the IMF, these tasks have reached urgent proportions, since, in March and April 2004, the Fund did itself admit, in public, that over the previous two years it had underestimated the possible upturn (in reality, a continuing downturn) in the state of the economy of Argentina. Then, at the end of July, in the same year, the Fund’s own independent policy evaluation body made a scathing attack on the policy of the IMF for that same country. Such unusually open and harsh criticisms of the Fund must (without expressing a personal opinion) suggest that all is not well and that those responsible for policy analysis and the application thereof must re-examine their methods and approaches. Consequently, the time could not be more opportune for an assessment of the work of the IMF and for making constructive proposals for the future of the organisation. THE ORIGINAL AND CHANGING ROLE OF THE IMF Its Record Without wishing to engage in needless repetition, it should be noted that the original (and to a large degree, continuing) role of the Fund was to help member countries facing, hopefully temporary, balance-of-payments problems....
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