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Interviewed on Doug Henwood's radio show, former World Bank chief economist and 2001 economics Nobelist Joseph Stiglitz wondered aloud whether it was time to give up hope on reforming the IMF and just scrap it and start from scratch.
To download an MP3 (48 kbps, 1 mb, 3:09), click here. To listen to the whole interview, visit the radio page and scroll down to the August 15, 2002, show.
Joseph Stiglitz, on "Behind the News," broadcast on WBAI, New York, August 15, 2002:
Let's close with the Lenin question: what is to be done? The IMF, it's pretty hard to say it's anything but a disaster. Its star pupils are all down in flames. It's not even able to have any psychological magic, as we've seen with the reaction to its arrangement with Brazil. What kind of rejiggering of this institutional architecture would serve the poor of the world better?
One of the aspects of globalization
is that the countries of the world are today more integrated,
more interdependent. And with more interdependence, there is greater
need for collective action, a greater need as a result for international
institutions. International institutions to regulate in one way
or another trade, finance, to provide humanitarian assistance.
The problem is that some of the institutions we have are not democratic,
they're not transparent. They reflect special interests within
the more advanced industrial coutnries. They do not represent
the concerns of the poor and the developing countries. Now, I
used to say that since we are going to need these institutions,
it is better to reform them than to start from scratch. I'm beginning
to have second thoughts. I'm beginning to ask, has the credibility
of the IMF been so eroded that maybe it's better to start from
scratch. Is the institution so resistant to learning, to change,
to becoming a more democratic institution, that maybe it is time
to think about creating some new insitutions that really reflect
today's reality, today's greater sense of democracy. When the
IMF was founded more than 50 years ago, most of the developing
countries were still Third World countries [sic], we had a fixed
exchange rate system. The world has changed enormously. Perhaps,
now, some 50 years afterwards, it's really time to re-ask the
question, should we reform, or we build from the start?