CAMBRIDGE – What a difference the crisis has made for the International Monetary Fund. It was just a few months ago that this important but unloved institution, a landmark of post-war global economic arrangements, seemed destined to irrelevance.
The IMF has long been a whipping boy for both left and right – the former because of the Fund’s emphasis on fiscal rectitude and economic orthodoxy, and the latter because of its role in bailing out indebted nations. Developing nations grudgingly took its advice, while advanced nations, not needing the money, ignored it. In a world where private capital flows dwarf the resources at its disposal, the IMF had come to seem an anachronism.