Another £10bn to the IMF?

Yesterday, a statutory instrument committee was asked to decide to agree another £10bn for the IMF. With others, I crashed the committee and spoke. You can find the debate here. In addition to rejecting bailouts, I attacked the IMF before questioning our fundamental monetary arrangements.

Here’s the section on the IMF (I insert a minor correction I have requested from Hansard):

[T]he IMF was created as part of the Bretton Woods system of currencies. We tend to talk as though our current monetary arrangements were a fixed point and had always been the same, but the present monetary orthodoxy has evolved over the years and centuries. Bretton Woods was constructed after the catastrophe of the second world war; the dollar was redeemable in gold, and all other currencies were pegged to the dollar. The job of the IMF was to stabilise exchange rates by bridging temporary gaps in nations’ balance of payments, but the IMF now seems to serve the purpose of ensuring the repayment of reckless financial institutions.

Above all, at all stages of its history the IMF has existed to bring financial stability, which I believe it has singularly failed to do. Turning to the monetary system and stability, I encourage Members to google a chart that I can make available, which shows the price of oil—[indexed to 1945, about] the origin of Bretton Woods—brought forward to today. It prices oil in dollars and in gold. I do not like to use the G-word, but I feel that since my hon. Friend the Member for Wellingborough has mentioned it already, I can continue. The price of oil has been high and volatile since 1971, but only when priced in dollars. If we price oil in gold, the price has been low and stable ever since the end of the second world war.

I simply make the point that our monetary arrangements are not fixed, that the IMF has not brought stability and that in fact many of our most important commodities are far more susceptible to the effects of our present, inflationary monetary arrangements than is generally considered. I would like to finish my point about the IMF with Hayek’s words. He said:

“monetary policy all over the world has followed the advice of the stabilisers. It is high time that their influence, which has already done harm enough, should be overthrown.”

I finished:

To conclude, we are in danger of simply kicking a can down the road and, as my hon. Friend the Member for Clacton said, ladling water into the boat. We are looking at further credit expansion, further monetisation of debts and further socialisation of risk. Throughout the western world, we are in danger of appearing as King Canute, trying to use politics to hold back the realities of social co-operation, which we usually describe as economics. The IMF is an institutional legacy from a monetary system that failed 40 years ago, and the successor to which is even now failing as well. 

I looked at IFRS and how it boosts bank capital, and we found that RBS is possibly overstating its capital by £25 billion. That must meant that RBS at least is far more susceptible to financial shocks than is generally thought. It is my view, because of the weaknesses of IFRS, that all banks are substantially more susceptible to financial shocks than is generally understood. I therefore offer three points. First, the Government should please look at cross-cancellation of debt held by sovereign nations—I refer the Government to work by ESCP Europe and Dr Anthony Evans. Secondly, let us face the reality—not optional—and look at how we restructure outstanding debt. Thirdly, at this time of all times, rather than merely increasing our liability to the IMF, let us seriously rethink the foundations of the international financial system and, in particular, start planning for how to protect the payments system. 

Apart from my remarks, its astonishing that a statutory instrument committee should approve, under a whip, £10 billion of additional commitments. Since the committee divided, I look forward to the vote in the Commons…

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Comments & Responses

2 Responses so far.

  1. Thank you very much for sayning all that. It needs to be said time and time again. Thank you also for your Question to Mark Hoban about savings. I note that you received his usual evasive and uniformative answer. But nice try.

  2. Andrew says:

    I think the core problem with the IMF, especially in the current climate, is that it has simply come to serve the (self) interests of large western financial institutions and other corporations. The UK taxpayer should not be bailing these so called efficient systems out. If they have failed, which it strongly appears that they have, then the consequences have to be faced. If they need assistance at a fundamental level then they are not efficient, so why are we supporting them? We will get nowhere, other than further into the mire, by pretending that our whole approach to incentive, risk and profit has not failed us.