The IMF’s Switch in Time

NEW YORK – The annual spring meeting of the International Monetary Fund was notable in marking the Fund’s effort to distance itself from its own long-standing tenets on capital controls and labor-market flexibility. It appears that a new IMF has gradually, and cautiously, emerged under the leadership of Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

Slightly more than 13 years earlier, at the IMF’s Hong Kong meeting in 1997, the Fund had attempted to amend its charter in order to gain more leeway to push countries towards capital-market liberalization. The timing could not have been worse: the East Asia crisis was just brewing – a crisis that was largely the result of capital-market liberalization in a region that, given its high savings rate, had no need for it.