| Monday, February 06, 2006
| WHAT THESE PEOPLE ACTUALLY DO
|Although they are widely despised, not many people know the true ins and outs of how the Bretton Woods Institutions (BWIs - The IMF, the World Bank) actually work.
Here is the first of a few posts that should help you to be able to win a few arguments. It's sort of a techincal piece with only a little abuse thrown in.
In the first of these posts (which I will do once a week or so if they seem to be popular) I want to begin by looking at what THEY say they do...
The IMF charter states it wishes,
"To promote international monetary cooperation through a permanent institution which provides the machinery for consultation and collaboration on international monetary problems"
The "permanent institution" (it is not in fact permanent - it can be unmade just as easily as it was made) that we now have in place does provide a framework for consultation but it is all too one-way. A poor country in trouble is likely to be forced to consult with the IMF as to whether or not it may borrow. This is because although the IMF and World Bank only have limited amounts of money with which to lend themselves in the form of direct loans, structural funds or special drawing rights (SDRs), the IMF and World Trade Organisation (WTO) will recommend to the major banks and companies whether or not a country is suitable to lend to. This is top-down management. The facts are presented to the IMF by a nation seeking to borrow. The IMF then "consults and collaborates" with the World Bank and any other agencies or banks who may be wishing to lend and finally, stringent conditions are placed upon the country in question in return for a loan. These are likely to include the privatisation of public services such as health or water. Any natural resources are likely to be forced into the hands of the multinational corporations.
The Second article of the IMF charter is -
"To facilitate the expansion and balanced growth of international trade, and to contribute thereby to the promotion and maintenance of high levels of employment and real income and to the development of the productive resources of all members as primary objectives of economic policy."
What then has happened? 55 years on we have a situation whereby if ninety percent of the debts of the 12 poorest countries on Earth were cancelled, they would still not be able to service even the interest on 10 percent of their debts? This is clearly not "balanced growth". Also roughly 80% of the wealth in the world is tied up with 20% of the population. The World Bank itself admits that real incomes have failed to rise for the last 20 years. Not only this, but at current growth rates it would take the rest of the world the nearly a millennium to catch up with the wealthiest parts.
Item 3 on the charter is,
"To promote exchange stability, to maintain orderly exchange arrangements among members, and to avoid competitive exchange deprecation."
The IMF encourages the fixing of "exchange arrangements" when it feels its the best thing to do. Fixing currencies to the dollar being the favourite technique. It did no discernible good for countries such as Argentina.
For now I will skip to part 6...
"In accordance with the above, to shorten the duration and lessen the degree of
disequilibrium in the international balances of payments of members."
This is clearly failing. In the worlds 12 poorest countries if 90 percent of the debts were cancelled even the interest on the remaining 10 percent would still be unserviceable. The role of the IMF is to cut the trade and fiscal deficit of a nation to a few percent of its GDP. It manages this sometimes, but it manages by beating a nations economy into submission by slashing the amount of trade the country is doing both internally and externally, not by stimulating growth.
Large corporations look after their major shareholders. The major shareholders of the IMF and World Bank are the rich countries. This is because the amount of votes a country gets is tied to the size of its economy. Calls for a population based rather than economy based voting system have been ignored. It is important to remember that the IMF and World Bank have met some of their own objectives - it's just that for some time it has been obvious that the objectives of the IMF and World Bank are not the same objectives as many of the worlds poorest countries have. The plan of most governments in poor countries is to raise standards of living in the long term through better housing health and education, to try to avoid food and water shortages and the like. The plan of the IMF is to even out a nations accounts and make it able to pay its debts in order that the international financial system may run smoother - hopefully in the short term. These two aims are mutually exclusive. The current state of affairs for most of the poorest countries on earth means that it is simply not feasible to accomplish both these aims simultaneously.
If you haven't already, then make a serious point of going and renting THE CORPORATION
|posted by michael the tubthumper @ 4:41 pm
Just finished watching The Corporation. You are right to recommend it. I didn't expect it, but the filmmakers applied some pacing tricks to make it unexpectedly inspiring towards the end.
The scene in which CEO Ray Anderson tells his colleagues in multinational business that they are all plunderers and will continue to be until their companies are sustainable is top stuff.
Great post. I wonder if you have read the book "Confessions of an Economic Hit Man" by John Perkins.
keir - absolutely. the whole thing is put together superbly.
and i haven't read the book though i have downloaded an interview with the guy but haven't watched it yet
I think it is most appropriate that Bretton Woods sits at the foot of Mount Deception. I hope you do more posts on this topic.
I need to go and see The Corporation.
|What is Tubthumping and who is doing it?
Name: michael the tubthumper
Home: Glasgow, Scotland
About Me: Tub-Thumper - 1. A speaker or preacher who for emphasis thumps the pulpit; a violent or declamatory preacher or orator; a ranter. This blog will be a combination of reasoned posting somedays and an occasional rant.
28 years old, I write and research for a couple of websites and also do my own stuff.
See my complete profile
|Thumping The Tub Video
I have made a few short movies. Here are links to free downloads for them all in the order that I made them (as far as I can remember). Please feel free to use, distribute, disagree with, shout at etc etc
Praise The Lord and Pass The Ammunition
This was a REAL song from World War 2. I was so stunned by it I had to make a movie
How Far Is It From Here to Nuremberg
This is my attempt at a video for the excellent, if worrying, David Rovics (see links) song
What You Like
I believe the word for this is "splenetic". Only 20 seconds long.
What is going on in Iraq? Some things you knew, some you didn't. A couple of bits of info are out of date now.
Wish You Were Here
Wish You Were Here is a 6 minute film about the unprecendted rate of animal extinction we are currently experiencing
Gorillas and us
I don't like creationism, neither did Douglas Adams
art not oil>
campaign for press freedom
cost of war
downing street says>
food not bombs>
mixed up records
radio 4 all
snow shoe films
video activist network>
U.S. MONETARY Cost of the War in Iraq - other people are spending too, and the human cost is much higher
|some of the blogs I look at
|Arse of the month
The inaugural 'Arse of the month' award goes to our very own Scottish First Minister Jack (Joke) McConnell. He seems to spend a lot of his time sucking up to english politicians and yet it appears they don't even know his name. Follow the link to see..
NODOBY KNOWS ME>
|It's All Gone Scottish
A list of some other Scottish sites and blogs most of which, if not all, are pro-independence. I don't agree with content on all of them obviously. Some are Scots at home, others abroad.
The Scottish Patient>
big stick small carrot>
J. Arthur MacNumpty>
World of Jack McConnell>
The Firefox Chronicles>
Radio Free Scotland>
Scots and independent>
Scottish Independence Guide>
Inveresk Street Ingrate>
|Want to Swot?
If you like this site and think it is time to start getting informed here are a few real favourites of mine that will help you blow away the corporate and government propaganda you are constantly bombarded with. It is added to every so often.
politics and the english language>
the gore exception>
your tax dollars at work>
a cultural chernobyl>
choose life (not trainspotting)>
shooting an elephant>
a war crime within a war crime...>
>the menace of liberal scholarship
the modern era of law>
naming the problem>
the four ages of sand>
a news revolution has begun>
>money is the cause of poverty
countering corporate power>
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