IMF Structural Conditionality: How Much is Too Much?
As suggested above, an active debate has long been underway - and has intensified in the wake of the Asian crisis - about the appropriate scope and intrusiveness of IMF policy conditionality. In this paper, I take up one key element of that debate, namely, the role of structural policies in IMF-supported adjustment programs. By "structural policies," I mean policies aimed not at the management of aggregate demand but rather at either improving the efficiency of resource use and/or increasing the economy's productive capacity. Structural policies are usually aimed at reducing/dismantling government - imposed distortions or putting in place various institutional features of a modern market economy. Such structural policies include, inter alia: financial-sector policies; liberalization of trade, capital markets, and of the exchange rate system; privatization and public enterprise policies; tax and expenditure policies (apart from the overall fiscal stance); labor market policies; pricing and marketing policies; transparency and disclosure policies; poverty-reduction and social safety-net policies; pension policies; corporate governance policies (including anti-corruption measures); and environmental policies. To set the stage for what follows, it is worth summarizing the main concerns and criticisms that have been expressed about the IMF's existing approach to structural policy conditionality. These typically take one or more of the following forms. First, there is a worry that wide-ranging and micro-managed structural policy recommendations will be viewed by developing-country borrowers as so costly and intrusive as to discourage unduly the demand for Fund assistance during crises. Even though the cost of borrowing from the Fund (the so-called rate of charge) is much lower than the cost of borrowing from private creditors - particularly during times of stress - we observe that developing countries usually come to the Fund "late in the day" when their balance-of-payments problems are already severe. This suggests that developing countries place a non-trivial shadow price on the policy conditions associated with Fund borrowing. The concern is that if these conditions become too onerous, emerging economies will wait even longer to come to the Fund (as Thailand did in 1997) and/or will turn to regional official crisis lenders that offer easier policy conditionality (e.g., in 1998 Malaysia was one of the first beneficiaries of low-conditionality Miyazawa Initiative funds, and Asian countries could eventually decide to elevate the infant Chiang-Mai swap arrangements into a full-fledged Asian Monetary Fund). The outcome - so the argument goes - would then be even more difficult initial crisis conditions, greater resort to the anti-social behavior that the Fund was established to prevent, and a tendency toward Gresham's Law of conditionality (where weak regional conditionality would drive out not only the unnecessary but also the necessary elements of Fund conditionality).
|Date of creation:||Apr 2001|
|Date of revision:|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: |
Web page: http://www.piie.com
More information through EDIRC
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Knight, Malcolm & Santaella, Julio A., 1997. "Economic determinants of IMF financial arrangements," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(2), pages 405-436, December.
- Michael D. Bordo & Anna J. Schwartz, 2000.
"Measuring Real Economic Effects of Bailouts: Historical Perspectives on How Countries in Financial Distress Have Fared With and Without Bailouts,"
NBER Working Papers
7701, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Bordo, Michael D. & Schwartz, Anna J., 2000. "Measuring real economic effects of bailouts: historical perspectives on how countries in financial distress have fared with and without bailouts," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 81-167, December.
- Anne O. Krueger, 2000. "Conflicting Demands on the International Monetary Fund," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(2), pages 38-42, May.
- Yung Chul Park, 1996. "East Asian Liberalization and the Challenge from China," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 27(2), pages 357-371.
- Stanley Fischer & Ratna Sahay & Carlos A. Vegh, 1996.
"Stabilization and Growth in Transition Economies: The Early Experience,"
Journal of Economic Perspectives,
American Economic Association, vol. 10(2), pages 45-66, Spring.
- S. Fisher & R. Sahay & C. A. Vegh, 1997. "Stabilization and Growth in Transition Economies: The Early Experience," VOPROSY ECONOMIKI, N.P. Redaktsiya zhurnala "Voprosy Economiki", vol. 5.
- Fischer, Stanley & Sahay, Ratna & Vegh, Carlos, 1996. "Stabilization and growth in transition economies: The early experience," MPRA Paper 20631, University Library of Munich, Germany.
- Stanley Fischer & Carlos A. VÃ©gh Gramont & Ratna Sahay, 1996. "Stabilization and Growth in Transition Economies; The Early Experience," IMF Working Papers 96/31, International Monetary Fund.
- Johnson, Simon & Boone, Peter & Breach, Alasdair & Friedman, Eric, 2000.
"Corporate governance in the Asian financial crisis,"
Journal of Financial Economics,
Elsevier, vol. 58(1-2), pages 141-186.
- Simon Johnson & Peter Boone & Alasdair Breach & Eric Friedman, 1999. "Corporate Governance in the Asian Financial Crisis," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series 297, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.
- Eric Friedman & Simon Johnson & Peter Boone & Alasdair Breach, 1999. "Corporate Governance in the Asian Financial Crisis," Departmental Working Papers 199920, Rutgers University, Department of Economics.
- Jacques J. Polak, 1991. "The Changing Nature of IMF Conditionality," OECD Development Centre Working Papers 41, OECD Publishing.
- Edwards, Sebastian, 1989. "The international monetary fund and the developing countries: A critical evaluation," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 7-68, January.
- Stanley Fischer, 1999. "On the Need for an International Lender of Last Resort," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 13(4), pages 85-104, Fall.
- Borensztein, Eduardo & Lee, Jong-Wha, 2002.
"Financial crisis and credit crunch in Korea: evidence from firm-level data,"
Journal of Monetary Economics,
Elsevier, vol. 49(4), pages 853-875, May.
- Jong-Wha Lee & Eduardo Borensztein, 2000. "Financial Crisis and Credit Crunch in Korea; Evidence From Firm-Level Data," IMF Working Papers 00/25, International Monetary Fund.
- Feldstein, Martin, 1999. "A Self-Help Guide for Emerging Markets," Scholarly Articles 2961700, Harvard University Department of Economics.
- Miguel A. Savastano & Michael Mussa, 1999. "The IMF Approach to Economic Stabilization," IMF Working Papers 99/104, International Monetary Fund.
- Dooley, Michael P., 2000. "Debt management and crisis in developing countries," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(1), pages 45-58, October.
- Garuda, Gopal, 2000. "The Distributional Effects of IMF Programs: A Cross-Country Analysis," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 28(6), pages 1031-1051, June.
- Steven Radelet & Jeffrey D. Sachs, 1998. "The East Asian Financial Crisis: Diagnosis, Remedies, Prospects," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 29(1), pages 1-90.
- Ghosh, Swati R. & Ghosh, Atish R., 2000.
"East Asia in the aftermath: Was there a crunch?,"
00-5, Deutsche Bank Research.
- Conway, Patrick, 1994. "IMF lending programs: Participation and impact," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 45(2), pages 365-391, December.
- Polak, J.J., 1991. "The Changing Nature of IMF Conditionality," Princeton Studies in International Economics 184, International Economics Section, Departement of Economics Princeton University,.
- Pavan Ahluwalia, 1999. "Discriminating Contagion; An Alternative Explanation of Contagious Currency Crises in Emerging Markets," IMF Working Papers 00/14, International Monetary Fund.
- Anna Unigovskaya & Valerie Mercer-Blackman, 2000. "Compliance with IMF Program Indicators and Growth in Transition Economies," IMF Working Papers 00/47, International Monetary Fund.
- John Williamson, 2000. "The Role of the IMF: A Guide to the Reports," Policy Briefs PB00-5, Peterson Institute for International Economics.
- Fischer, Stanley, 1997. "Applied Economics in Action: IMF Programs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(2), pages 23-27, May.
- Patrick Honohan & Daniela Klingebiel, 2000. "Controlling fiscal costs of banking crises," Proceedings 682, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
- Timothy D. Lane & Marianne Schulze-Gattas & T. M. Tsikata & Steven Phillips & Atish R. Ghosh & A. Javier Hamann, 1999. "IMF-Supported Programs in Indonesia, Korea and Thailand," IMF Occasional Papers 178, International Monetary Fund.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:iie:wpaper:wp01-4. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Peterson Institute webmaster)
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.