El FMI va a Europa

CAMBRIDGE – Con la participación central del Fondo Monetario Internacional en el plan de rescate de la zona euro para Grecia, el organismo multilateral de crédito ha cerrado el círculo.  En sus primeros días, después de la Segunda Guerra Mundial, la función principal del FMI fue ayudar a Europa a superar los estragos de la guerra. En otros tiempos el Fondo tenía decenas de programas en todo el continente (como lo demostramos, Rong Qian, Carmen Reinhart y yo en una nueva investigación sobre la “graduación” de las crisis de deuda soberana.) No obstante, hasta antes de la crisis financiera, la mayoría de los europeos asumían que ya eran demasiado ricos para pasar la humillación de pedir asistencia financiera al Fondo.

Bienvenidos a la nueva era. Europa se ha convertido en la zona cero de la mayor expansión de créditos e influencia que el FMI haya tenido en años. Varios de los grandes países de Europa Oriental, incluidos Hungría, Rumania y Ucrania, ya tienen programas sustanciales de crédito del FMI. Ahora, los países de la zona euro han acordado que el Fondo también puede participar en Grecia y, presumiblemente, en Portugal, España, Italia e Irlanda, de ser necesario.

El resurgimiento del FMI en el último año es impresionante. Limitado por la retórica populista durante la crisis de deuda asiática de finales de los años noventa, el Fondo ha estado luchando para volver a anclar sus políticas y reconstruir su imagen. Cuando el francés Dominique Strauss-Kahn tomó las riendas en el otoño de 2007, incluso los países pobres de África le daban la espalda como a un leproso y preferían hacer tratos con prestamistas no tradicionales como China. En ausencia de  nuevos negocios y nuevos ingresos, el Fondo encaraba fuertes recortes para asegurar su propia supervivencia.

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