A Washington Post article (4/23/10) about the International Monetary Fund focused on the advice it is offering for the United States. The piece notes that this is somewhat unusual. Even stranger, though, is the Post‘s description of IMF officials as folks who “have a long history of stabilizing economies and solving global financial problems.”
Back in the ’90s, the IMF came to be known as the “Typhoid Mary” of emerging markets as its policy prescriptions led to sharp economic downturns in one country after another. It tried to impose a harsh austerity plan on Argentina in 2001 and did everything it could to sabotage its economy when the country refused to go along. Its sabotage effort included economic growth projections that were likely politically motivated, since they consistently under-projected growth. This would have the effect of scaring away potential efforts. By contrast, the IMF consistently over-projected Argentina’s growth in the years when it was following policies recommended by the IMF.