Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

World Bank, AFL-CIO Representatives Debate Policies

Representatives of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank debated the merits of their policies with students Tuesday in Reiss 103. It was the last of five seminars held by the Georgetown Solidarity Committee in preparation for this weekend’s IMF protests, which will draw thousands of demonstrators to Washington, D.C.

The seminar, entitled “Debate on the IMF and the World Bank,” preceded the annual meetings of the IMF and World Bank in downtown Washington, D.C., this weekend. Protesters are planning five days of marching, teach-ins and anti- capitalist demonstrations in conjunction with the annual meetings of the IMF and World Bank beginning on Sept. 25.

IMF Senior Economist Wayne Camard, World Bank Senior Information Officer Eric Chinje and John Garrison from the World Bank Office of External Affairs advocated for their respective organizations, while two specialists, Rick Rowden from Results, a non-governmental organization and Elizabeth Drake from the AFL-CIO, provided criticisms of the IMF and World Bank.

“We wanted to put an intellectual policy debate behind the questions that people are going to raise after the protests this weekend,” GSC spokesperson Ginny Leavell (COL ’05) said. “The media usually just covers the conflict between cops and protestors.”

Rick Rowden argued that while the IMF and the World Bank claim to be aiding Third World countries to develop and get out of debt, most of their clients not only remain underdeveloped, but have fallen deeper into debt.

“By the mid-1990s, the global gap between the rich and poor countries had roughly doubled since the 1960s,” Rowden said. “Currently, the top 20 percent of the world’s population controls more than 80 percent of the world’s wealth, and the bottom 20 percent controls about one percent.”

Drake echoed Rowden’s assessment. She added that the internal policies of the two organizations had led to a “poor record of growth, poor record of reducing poverty and poor record in the labor market” in Third World countries.

Camard said the IMF monitors economic and financial developments and policies at the global level and, using Keynesian economics, gives policy advice to its members.

“We don’t order any country to do anything,” Camard said. “They need our help to escape from the problems they face. And we help them.”

The goal of the IMF and World Bank is to aid their member countries to achieve economic growth and stability, Camard said. The aided country needs money to generate deficits to stimulate the economy, he added.

“The problem is poor countries would like two plus two to equal five. When things become difficult, they run up debts and face a crisis,” Camard said. “How do you run a deficit if you can’t borrow any more money? We give money, but some adjustments have to be made.”

Camard was referring to structural adjustment programs implemented in many developing nations aimed at reducing poverty through market-led economic growth. Rowden and Drake said they oppose these programs.

“Although structural-adjustment programs are supposed to lower poverty, they have yet to help even one Third World economy achieve both a high rate of growth and a substantive decline in poverty,” Rowden said. “A study conducted by the Center for Economic and Policy Research suggests that the structural-adjustment programs have actually impaired economic growth rates.”

Still, the IMF and the World Bank have had successes, Garrison said. He pointed out that after India changed its policies, the country benefited from a robust growth rate and reduced inflation.

“Unfortunately, we are a human organization,” Canard said. “Sometimes we succeed, and sometimes we fail.”

The GSC is planning to attend some of the protests of the IMF and the World Bank that will take place in the District over the weekend.

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