Is the IMF Changing?

September 26th, 2011
in Op Ed

Cartoon by Mark Hurwitt

by Dirk Ehnts

The Internal Evaluation Office of the IMF has reported:

Third, there is a widely held perception that IMF research is message driven. About half of the authorities held this view, and more than half of the staff indicated that they felt pressure to align their conclusions with IMF policies and positions. Policy recommendations provided in some research publications did not follow from the research results, and a number of country authorities and researchers noted that IMF research tended to follow a pre-set view with predictable conclusions that did not allow for alternative perspectives. This detracted from the quality and credibility of studies and reduced their utilization.

Now, more heretical interesting stuff has been posted by the IMF.

Follow up:

In recent work we discovered that when growth is looked at over the long term, the trade-off between efficiency and equality may not exist. In fact equality appears to be an important ingredient in promoting and sustaining growth. The difference between countries that can sustain rapid growth for many years or even decades and the many others that see growth spurts fade quickly may be the level of inequality. Countries may find that improving equality may also improve efficiency, understood as more sustainable long-run growth.

This article is, I hope, the result of newfound academic freedom on the part of researchers at the IMF. While the OECD has been stubbornly providing recommendations of austerity, the IMF seems to have come around towards the new macroeconomic consensus – open thinking, no bias.

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About the Author

Dr. Dirk Ehnts is a research assistant at the Carl-von-Ossietzky University of Oldenburg (Germany). His focus is on economic integration and economic geography, covering trade, macro and development. He is working at the chair for international economics since 2006 and has recently co-authored a book on Innovation and International Economic Relations (in German). Ehnts has written at his own blog since 2007: Econblog 101Curriculum Vitae.

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