News / Economy

IMF Says Its 'Negative Image' Steers Countries Away from Borrowing

Reuters
Many countries are hesitant to rely on the IMF's new lending instruments because of a perceived “stigma” attached to taking money from the global financial institution, the International Monetary Fund said on Wednesday.

The IMF has launched a series of new lending programs in recent years that it hoped would appeal to countries with generally good economic policies, but that still needed some protection from market contagion. The Fund's traditional lending programs are meant for countries with an urgent crisis, and come with stringent conditions attached.

But only a few countries have been interested, surprising IMF staff who had thought the program would be popular during the period of market stress after the global financial crisis, and during the recent rout in emerging markets tied to the Federal Reserve's slowing pace of asset purchases.

In many cases, countries needing insurance against outside shocks have accumulated reserves, expanded bilateral swap lines, or launched regional financing arrangements instead of turning to the IMF.

“To a large degree, this reflects the degree of political stigma related to Fund engagement that prevents some members from seeking pre-emptive Fund financial support,” IMF staff members said in a policy paper.

“Policymakers' reluctance to come to the Fund appears to stem largely from the persistently negative image that the Fund has among many civil society opinion leaders, NGOs, and the general public, particularly in countries affected by past crises,” the paper added.

For example, the IMF's reputation in Asia remains tarnished by the policy advice it dispensed during the Asian financial crisis in the late 1990s. At the time, it recommended deep budget cuts and tight monetary policy, which critics say exacerbated the economic downturn.

Countries in the region have amassed some $6 trillion in foreign exchange reserves in part to ensure they will never again have to seek an IMF bailout.

The IMF said it would strive to reach out to a broader group, beyond just governments, in order to improve its reputation.

“When countries do have to seek fund support it's better that they do it promptly and don't feel inhibited from doing so by ... perceptions that Fund support is going to be damaging to their economy,” a senior IMF official told reporters, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The paper focused on three instruments the IMF launched since the global financial crisis. At the height of the crisis in 2009, the IMF rolled out the Flexible Credit Line for well-run emerging market economies constrained by the global credit squeeze. But only Mexico, Poland and Colombia signed up.

Two years later, it launched a six-month liquidity line aimed at countries with solid policies that might have been at risk from market jitters, such as the debt crisis in the eurozone. So far, only Morocco has asked for that instrument, called the Precautionary and Liquidity Line.

Another new program, called the Rapid Financing Instrument, also remains untested. This type of support, which is now seen as one of the options for helping Ukraine, is meant for nations with urgent balance of payment needs caused by outside shocks.

The IMF paper said the Fund would work on clarifying what countries must do to qualify for these types of programs, which could encourage more of them to sign up.

You May Like

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.8896
JPY
USD
119.26
GBP
USD
0.6475
CAD
USD
1.2451
INR
USD
61.816

Rates may not be current.