So you can understand why I’m not a big fan of the International Monetary Fund.
Whether we’re talking more spending, more taxes, more bailouts, or more centralization and harmonization, it seems that the IMF is the Dr. Kevorkian of the global economy.
Or, since Doctor Kevorkian faded from the headlines more than 10 years ago, perhaps it would be better to say that the International Monetary Fund is the Doctor Gosnell of global economic policy.
But I don’t want to get into issues of assisted suicide or post-birth abortions, so let’s just say that the IMF has a very disturbing habit of recommending bad policy. Here are just a few of the items I’ve flagged over the past couple of years.
- Endorsing government cartels to boost tax and regulatory burdens.
- Trying to undermine flat tax systems in Albania and Latvia.
- Encouraging a “collective response” to over-spending in welfare states.
- Pushing for higher tax burdens in Greece.
- Seeking the same destructive policy in Cyprus.
- Advocating for more centralization and bureaucratic rule in Europe.
- Urging higher taxes in El Salvador.
- Supporting “eurobonds” so that taxpayers from other nations can subsidize the profligacy of welfare states such as Greece, Italy, and Spain.
But you need to give the bureaucrats credit for sticking to their guns.
We have more and more evidence with each passing day that Keynesian economics doesn’t work. President Bush imposed a so-called stimulus plan in 2008 and President Obama imposed an even bigger “stimulus” in 2009. Based upon the economy’s performance over the past five-plus years, those plans didn’t work.
Japan has spent the past 20-plus years imposing one Keynesian scheme after another, and the net effect is economic stagnation and record debt. Going back further in time, Presidents Hoover and Roosevelt dramatically increased the burden of government spending, mostly financed with borrowing, and a recession became a Great Depression.
That’s not exactly a successful track record
Yet the IMF is undaunted. The bureaucrats are pushing Keynesian snake oil and bigger government all across Europe.
Here are some details from a Wall Street Journal report. about the IMF’s promotion of assisted suicide in Central Europe.
The International Monetary Fund is recommending short-term stimulus for much of Central Europe, where economies are going through their roughest patch in years and the recession in the euro zone has dampened hopes for a quick recovery. …Increased government spending to stimulate economic activity and create jobs is therefore warranted, he said. “Short-term economic policies should be geared toward supporting the economy and not creating an additional drag.” …Amid spending cuts, the countries’ fortunes reversed recently. …the Czech Republic should ease up on fiscal austerity and embark on pro-growth spending, the leader of the IMF’s Czech mission said. …The IMF also has been encouraging looser monetary policy in both Poland and the Czech Republic.
Gee, not just more Keynesianism, but easy money as well!
The IMF also is pushing bad policy on the Brits (though I’m not sure why they’re bothering since the statist government of David Cameron hardly needs any help in that regard).
Here are some details from the EU Observer.
The UK should delay plans to push through further austerity measures worth £10 billion (€12 billion), the International Monetary Fund (IMF) warned on Wednesday. …The extra cuts would “pose headwinds to growth…..at a time when resources in the economy are under-utilised,” said the Washington-based institution. Instead, the IMF urged London to bring forward plans to invest in infrastructure projects… The government “could undertake a reform of property taxes and consider broadening the VAT base” to pay for the measures.
What’s remarkable is that the IMF isn’t even intellectually honest about its Keynesian proclivities. They’re happy to advocate for more spending, but honest Keynesians also should be against tax hikes. Yet the bureaucrats proposed a couple of tax hikes to “pay for the measures.”
In other words, the IMF agenda is bigger government – with more taxes and more spending.
Which raises the question of why all of us are paying for a bloated bureaucracy that simply tells politicians to implement bad policies? Particularly since politicians have demonstrated over and over again that they’re immensely qualified at concocting their own bad policies?
P.S. To be fair, I should admit that there are rare bits of sanity from the economists at the IMF. They’ve acknowledged, for instance, that the Laffer Curve is real and warned that it makes no sense to push taxes too high. And some of the bureaucrats have even admitted that it sometimes makes sense to reduce the burden of government spending. And even though it wasn’t their intention, IMF bureaucrats provided very strong evidence showing why the value-added tax is a destructive money machine for big government.