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[Nettime-nl] The affair DSK and the forgotten IMF self-criticism report
Tjebbe van Tijen via Chello on Tue, 16 Aug 2011 19:00:05 +0200 (CEST)

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[Nettime-nl] The affair DSK and the forgotten IMF self-criticism report of May 20. 2011

The affair DSK and the forgotten IMF self-criticism report of May 20. 2011

August 16, 2011 by Tjebbe van Tijen

A fully documented and illustrated version is available at


THIS IS MY FIRST QR-CODED tableau try it:

âBonnet dâÃne pour le FMIâ (dunceâs cap for the IMF; literary âdonkeyâs capâ) I read in Le Monde Diplomatique of August 2011, with a sarcastic comment by Pierre Rimbert on how the arrest of Dominique Strauss Kahn for sexual assault of a hotel worker on May 15th overshadowed a self-critical report of the International Monetary Fund by its own âIndependent Evaluation Officeâ (IEO) published on May 20. The report itself is on-line and worthwhile reading, because the âeconomic assault of international banksâ on all of us is too easily overlooked as we all like daily scandal betterâ

These are some harsh findings in the report of the Independent Evaluation Office of the IMF:

ââthe relevance of research to authorities and its utilization were hampered by the lack of early consultation with country authorities on research themes and by a lack of country and institutional context.â [page 27; paragraph 75]

ââthere 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.â [page 28; paragraph 77]

ââthere was no IMF-wide leadership of research. Research activities were highly decentralized, and there was very limited coordination across departments. There was no mechanism to set IMF-wide priorities or quality standards. Collaboration among staff across departments was limited and mostly based on personal relationships.â [page 28; paragraph 79]

[tableau picture of an iPad with the logo of the International Monetary Fund and the critical report mentioned in thsi raticle, a QR code gives for users of Android, iPhones or iPads direct access to this IMF report in PDF format]

Click picture for bigger version and test the QR-code: tested with iPad 2 and 4 QR-code apps: QR HD, Scan, QRdeCode, Qrafter (the last one is the best as it zooms automatically and is a free app) It should bring you directly to the report of IEO "Research at the IMF: relevance and utilization."
Reading the self-critic report of the IMF made me check its reception and how it was related to the impact of Strauss Kahn and his short lived IMF reign. It lead me to the English language Turkish newspaper âTodayâs Zamanâ (said to be close to the Turkish Justice and Development Party) and a long comment by their columnist Asim Erdilek, from which I took this citation:

What both IEO reports omit, however, is that since 2008 the IMFâs official views have been moving away from the Washington Consensus. This began under the former IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn, a former socialist French finance minister, who chose his compatriot MIT macroeconomist Olivier Blanchard to be the IMF economic counselor and research department director (see my columns âThe IMFâs evolving policy makeoverâ (1) and (2), published on Feb. 22 and March 1, 2010, respectively). In several recent publications the IMF has demonstrated its tilting to the left in economic policies by calling for higher inflation rates as well as greater financial regulation in developed countries and for capital controls in developing countries. We have to wait and see whether this tilting to the left will continue, creating an opposite research bias, under the IMFâs controversial new managing director, also from France.

 Christine Lagarde one of the few ministers in the cabinet of Sarkozyâs UMP party that survived the frequent reshuffles of  Franceâs president (âLe joker de Sarkozyâ; Le Figaro; 2009), is a lawyer by profession and not an economist, she is known for publicly denying bad news and proposing her view of  âla vie en rose.â:

Christine Lagarde estime que âle gros de la crise est derriÃre nousâ Le Nouvel Observateur 20/8/2007 (Christine Lagarde estimates that the main part of the crisis is behind us)

Christine Lagarde: confÃrence de presse âLâÃconomie franÃaise repose sur des fondamentaux qui sont solides [...] Je ne conÃois pas aujourdâhui de contamination à lâÃconomie mondialeâ Le Monde Blogs 17/8/2007 (Christine Lagrande during [an often cited] press conference: âFrench economy  is put on solid fundaments [...] I do not conceive today a contamination of it by  world economyâ)

Lagarde : âIl nây aura pas dâÃclatement de la zone euroâ Le Figaro 18/11/2010 (Lagarde âthe Euro zone will not be blown upâ)

If she will be anything more than a mouthpiece for the international banking world is doubtful, if her method of public broadcasted optimism is enough to quell the financial crisis is most unlikely.

The conspiracy theories that have been circulating with Dominique Strauss Kahn as a supposed leftist belonging to the French Socialist Party, to be discredited by a schemed sexual intervention, leading to the appointment of another French director of the IMF from the right wing  UMP party of Sarkozy, are grotesque. DSK is a man finding apparently pleasure in risky violent sexual behaviour. The coming-out of the lady he assaulted, did also put an end to any Hollywood movie inspired conspiracy story, with high class  call girls on secret missions. It was indeed just a lady doing hotel work who befell the outrageous assault. Sarkozy may even not have been comfortable with the demise of DSK, as with DSK  the interest of France in an international organisation, was some how manifest, at a level beyond national politics.  That a politician like Sarkozy grabs the occasion delivered to him by DSKâs fall, is obvious, but this was first of all a improvised emergency measure. And so Christine Lagarde, promoted by France,  added this âpersonal touch to her pitch  to lead this global institutionâ for the board of IMF directors on on June 22, 2011:

 âI stand here as a woman, hoping to add to the diversity and balance of this institution. I stand here as former head of an international law firm with a dedication to integrity, to the highest moral standards and a belief in participative management. I stand here as a Finance minister who has been tested in times of crisis. I would like to put these skills and experience at work to serve the International Monetary Fundâ

âRue 89â a daily platform for commenting the news has a comment on a radio interview with Lagarde still as the French minister of finance with âFrance Interâ on April 11th this year, where she also has to answer questions by listeners. A pensioned lady comes in the broadcast and explains how she tries to live on 800 Euros a month and succeeds only to cover 15 days with this amount. Comes the answer of Lagrande:

âLe gouvernement a tout a fait conscience de votre problÃme et câest pour cela quâil a dÃcidà dâaugmenter de 2% les pensions de minimum vieillesse.â (The government has been completely conscious of your problem and has therefore decided to augment with 2% the minimum elderly pensions)

The commentator on âRue 89â, the economist Jean Matouk, precises in his article (*) the actual government measures, 4,7% augmentation for the minimum elderly income and 2% for the pensions. Matouk tells us in a sarcastic tone also to what it boils down: â16 Euros more pro month. What is she moaning about?â  The next question to Finance Minister Lagarde from radio listeners make her jumps from tens of Euros to milliards, as the support for Greece and other âweak economiesâ in Europe and its financial consequences are brought in. I will not cite the whole interview here, details are on-line in French, but what is striking, is the correlation between the way the poor pension lady is helped by Lagarde and her world of high finances and the way âglobal economyâ is handled by the same forces.

[tableau that shows of Europe riding the bull in ancient version, plus a modern sculpture with the same subject and the captions reads "Christine Lagarde riding the Euro bull in front of the European Parliament Building in Strassbourg while the New York Wall Street bull is waiting her, a symbol of the recovery of the American people from the stock market crash of 1987 by the Italian-American artist Arturo Di Monica, who placed the sculpture on his own initiative at first, later integrated as a city highlight. The charging bull shows in Di Monica's words: "the energy, strength, and unpredictability of the stock market." (**)]

âI stand here as a Finance minister who has been tested in times of crisis.â The pitch from Lagarde for the board of directors of the IMF and she did get the job. âBeen testedâ seems to be the ability of politicians to remain in the saddle during an economic rodeo, which does not mean that the bull she has been riding has been tamed. Alternative forms of domestication are needed and there seem to be no âalternative viewsâ possible with the IMF, neither with the board of directors, nor with their new head Lagarde, let me cite again IMFâs Internal Evaluation Office May 2011 report:

 âresearchers noted that IMF research tended to follow a pre-set view with predictable conclusions that did not allow for alternative perspectives.â

It is âalternative perspectivesâ on economy we need to put an end to orchestrated âeconomic assaultsâ that are at the basis of the legal system of our societies and remain thus â most of the times â unpunished


(*) Vivre avec 800 â par mois quand les banques enfument le monde (âLiving on 800 Euros a month while the banks smokes up the worldâ; there is a double meaning here in âenfumerâ, one of a smoke screen, the other of something being fucked).

(**) For details on the Wall Street bull of Di Monica see Wikipedia.
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