Rethinking Economics join civil society organisations to meet IMF

Words by Juan Pedro Painceira, GURWES

Juan Pedro is a fourth-year student at Glasgow University and is a member of the Rethinking Economics group Real World Economics Society

At the end of last month, Toby Arbogast and I, two UK-based Rethinking members, joined other civil society groups, like Jubilee Debt Campaign and Development Pathways, to meet the IMF UK Director, Shona Riach. The purpose of this meeting is to challenge the Fund’s actions, and critically follow the development and implementation of their programmes

Rethinking has joined at a particularly exciting time: this was the first meeting with Shona Riach as Director, the IMF has recently been subject to strong critiques from several fronts, and the Fund has initiated measures to avoid some of the detrimental aspects often linked to their programmes.

The agenda included the topics of Conditionality, Fragile State, Social Provision, and Gender effects of Programmes. The objectives were to clarify the particular position of IMF-UK regarding the topics, question it with evidence, and push for change or deeper reform.

One of the issues raised is that of the limited ‘economic toolkit’ of IMF economists. And this is where the contribution RE can make to the discussion becomes evident. The IMF is full of excellent neoclassical macroeconomist with an expertise in finance, but their scope is too narrow.

We can explain that their economic analysis and policy has a lot to win from including a more real-world and pluralist approach: bringing in the particular reality (socioeconomic, political, etc.) of the economies studied, and interpreting this through a variety of lenses. Economists from development economics, and dependencia studies are often better equipped to look at the particularities of low income countries and situations of systemic imbalances.

As a start, the IMF could benefit from collaborating with other UN bodies that are much more familiar with these branches of economics, notably, the CEPAL and UNCTAD.

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