Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Debts of the Lenders: The Irony of the West

Irony. Definition - incongruity between the actual result of a sequence of events and the normal or expected result (Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary).

10-11 years ago the IMF went to the emerging markets (East Asia, Eastern Europe, and Latin America) to demand the following fiscal austerity measures:

1) Don't bailout bad banks
2) Raise Interest rates
3) Cut Government spending

These measures actually worked! And sometime during the intervening decade the emerging markets became net savers/lenders to the net spenders/borrowers of the West. Emerging markets were so successful that the emerging markets largely repaid their IMF debts on time (Argentina being a notable exception).

Today, when the shoe is on the other foot, the West has done the EXACT OPPOSITE.

1) Bailout not just bad banks but ALL sectors of the private sector
2) Lower interest rates to 0
3) Spend vast amounts of money and even resort to inflationary measures like monetizing debt.

In addition, the West is also DEMANDING the emerging markets CONTINUE to lend them more money.

Am I the only one detecting a double standard here? That the Western dominated IMF
is somehow above taking its own medicine? Hypocrisy or a double standard. You decide.