After four decades of promoting policies of targeting very low inflation rates and unfettered capital flows, the global financial crisis has prompted new debate over IMF ideology.
As academia and NGOs call for reform of the international financial architecture, the international monetary system is the focus of scrutiny. Support for capital controls and a financial transaction tax has met resistance from the IMF.
Growth commission event in Istanbul.
The future of international economic governance and financial reform is still being debated separately at the United Nations and the G20, but little progress is being made.
The IMF's loans across Europe, from Iceland to Romania are stoking deep controversy and protest. Resistance is building from civil society aganist the austerity benig imposed.
At a conference in Penang, Malaysia in August, officials, academic and members of civil society from the Asian region sought to chart a way towards greater regional cooperation that would insulate them from the IMF and financial crises.
In Hungary, the IMF seems to be modestly improving its flexibility and conditionality compared to its dreadful practices in previous decades. However, a still distinctively neoliberal vision of how economies work is in play attributable as much to the Hungarian government as to the IMF. The deficits of democracy and poor economic governance in Hungary make our indebted future increasingly bleak.
An evaluation by the IMF's Independent Evaluation Office finds that the IMF's trade policy work between 1996 and 2007 had patchy effectiveness, was "not evenhanded" and has "diminished credibility of IMF independence".
The financial crisis has reinvigorated discussion of exchange rate management and reform of the monetary system, but lack of progress at international forums like the IMF means change is only happening at the regional and bilateral level.
The first major conference on the financial and economic crisis to involve all countries ended with rich countries blocking substantive reforms demanded by developing countries. The UN conference did however push key issues up the international agenda, such as the need for a better system of international reserves, and for genuine policy space for developing countries.