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The IMF now thinks equality is great, but doesn’t prescribe it


9:01 am - June 13th 2012

by Owen Tudor    


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IMF managing director Christine Lagarde delivered a speech yesterday in Washington on “Back to Rio—the Road to a Sustainable Economic Future”, which contained some interesting elements, to say the least.

Strangely, her positive comments about equality never seem to make it into the IMF’s assessments of Government austerity measures (eg her admittedly lukewarm support recently for Britain’s economic policy) or the conditions the IMF places on countries seeking loans.

On this occasion, she cited recent IMF research showing that

countries with more equitable distributions of income are associated with greater macroeconomic stability and more sustainable growth over the longer term

and she announced an upcoming IMF paper

showing that government spending and taxes play a vital role in reducing inequality.

She stated that “jobs must be at the forefront of any strategy for inclusive growth” and spoke of the need for “decent and steady employment.”

And whilst she said that the IMF is “not a labor institution, and should not become one … we are collaborating closely with the International Labor Organisation on employment and labor market issues [and] are also working with the International Trade Union Confederation, which represents the world’s unions during these difficult days.”

Elsewhere in the speech, Lagarde reiterated the IMF’s joint work with the ILO, World Bank and other UN agencies on the social protection floor initiative ”which helps poor countries set up basic levels of protection at an affordable cost”. An ILO Recommendation on the issue has been debated over the last two weeks in Geneva and is about to be adopted by the ILO Conference.

I look forward to the IMF telling George Osborne to reinstate the 50p top rate of tax, give us all a VAT holiday and install creches in London’s poshest clubs for all their new women members.

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About the author
Owen Tudor is an occasional contributor to LC. He is head of the TUC’s European Union and International Relations Department and blogs more regularly at the Touchstone blog.
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Reader comments


1. Luis Enrique

This isn’t quite as new a development as you make out, for example the Sept 11 issue of the IMF magazine was on this issue

http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/fandd/2011/09/index.htm

Whatever Lagarde’s personal employment contract states it undermines her public creditability that she is apparently not required to pay tax on her income.

When it comes to deficits and budget balance, the IMF wants too much, too soon.
When it is about equality, the IMF comes too slow, too late.

The gap between what the IMF say and what they do has been extensively outlined by the ITUC and their paper is linked in this post

http://thosebigwords.forumcommunity.net/?t=48677750&p=356751542


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
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