The IMF often claims it is no longer part of a neoliberal Washington consensus. Its discredited former head Dominique Strauss-Kahn certainly did change the rhetorical tone of its overall approach to global macroeconomic policy, and even his centre-right successor, Christine Lagarde has argued for growth, while still giving ‘fiscal consolidation’ programmes like George Osborne’s lukewarm endorsement. Our Irish and Greek colleagues tell us that the IMF has been the least hawkish part of the troikas sent in to run their economies in return for ‘bail outs’ (the ECB and the Commission have been far tougher).
But an International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) report on IMF advice to a series of European Governments shows that when it comes to protecting workers’ employment rights, the IMF hasn’t remotely changed its spots. Whatever the evidence, whatever the problem, the IMF solution is always to liberalise employment rights. I suspect they would find some right to advise scrapping even if slavery were re-established!
The report looked at IMF advice to the Governments of Bulgaria, Spain, Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Romania, the last four of which – together with ten other EU nations – have been granted loans by the IMF since the global economic crisis begain in 2008.
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