Olivier Blanchard will leave the Fund, effective end of September, after seven years as the IMF’s economic counsellor and director of the research department, a role he assumed just two weeks before the 2008 Lehman Brothers bankruptcy.
Blanchard’s tenure is notable for the publication of research examining the case for austerity and the role of fiscal policy designed to reduce debt. The 2012 World Economic Outlook sparked a debate on the case for austerity (see Update 83, 82, 80) and led some analysts to wonder if the IMF would change its policy. Blanchard will join the Peterson Institute for International Economics, a Washington-based think tank, in October. His successor is yet to be announced.
Mark Weisbrot of the Washington-based think-tank Center for Economic and Policy Research commented: “Blanchard presided over some significant changes in IMF research [which] acknowledged that the Fund had seriously underestimated the impact of austerity in Europe. However, this research had very little impact on IMF policy; and Blanchard himself, would sometimes contradict it in his statements to the media.” Weisbrot pointed out that “IMF policy is decided by its directors and governors, and so it is not clear how much difference a new research director will make.”