Public Forum Debate: the International Monetary Fund
Public Forum April 2021, yah hoo. It’s the International Monterey Fund. Let’s get it.
The IMF was founded after World War 2 to make sure, like, there wasn’t another World War 2 (there must be a name for that). Its main goal has been to ensure economic stability, while the United Nations tries its very best to maintain political stability.
The World Bank, meanwhile, works mainly on global development, especially of poor countries. The two organizations work together, and both of their roles have changed in the 70+ years they’ve been around.
Alright. So the Resolution is just harms/benefits, good/bad, quite simple.
(Pro) The IMF is awesome because it helps countries in need. It’s literally the lender of last resort. Destitute countries would have nowhere to turn for bailouts when they’re near financial ruin— except the IMF. In the last decade China has emerged as an alternative— China is the world’s #1 holder of foreign debt— but its lending practices are opaque and predatory, with ‘debt-trap diplomacy’ being the name of the game. The IMF makes sure that countries don’t have two turn to the global China mafia for bailouts.
(Con) However. There are conditions attached to almost all these loans. They call them ‘conditionality’s’ cause they’re cool like that. They require or pressure countries to make money any way they can in order to pay back the IMF loan. This often means cutting healthcare funding, education investment, and pensions for the elderly. It means firing government employees or reducing their salaries. It means deregulating industry to let companies ‘do whatever they want’ to employees or the environment, in order to make more sweet mulah for the newly-indebted government. Pro can say this is “necessary”— but its irrefutably causing more harm, to the poorest people in the world, than good.
(Pro) This isn’t even half the story though. Countries that come to the IMF may be on the verge of financial collapse. They could be near true financial ruin. The IMF doesn’t just lend money, but lends expertise and advice from real professionals to help countries balance their budgets. Do they need to cut back some spending? Yes, of course: you can’t spend more than you make and remain financially solvent. But what do you get for these cuts? Well, you get long-term stability, healthy growth, and ultimately get to avoid huge pain for countries down the road when financial systems could collapse even further, leading to inflation, unemployment, and untold human suffering. It’s better to ‘bite the bullet’ and fix the financial situation than letting these wounds fester.
(Con) Remember though that the IMF was founded by the US and in the US, alongside US allies in Europe. So although it ’serves the world’, it’s more accurate to say that the IMF serves US interests. The conditionality’s that countries are forced into thus reflect US interests and remove sovereignty from destitute countries to guide their future how they want to. In a global sense, the IMF therefore reduces democracy. It also pushes Western growth-based liberal economic practices: the idea is, the more growth a country has, the better it is. But this growth doesn’t mean more equality. And it’s not good for the environment. IMF-backed mega-projects are very harmful for the environment and help to speed up climate change.
(Pro) Speaking of Western values: here’s a few more nice things the IMF does: it pushes gender equality, invests in projects to help us adapt to and survive climate change, and is helping with the adoption of digital currencies that will make financial transactions quicker, cheaper and easier.
(Con) Yes, values. The IMF has infamously given money to dictators and countries with horrific human rights abuses. Recently, the IMF send a no-strings-attached $350 million to Myanmar right before the military took over. Is this the IMFs fault? No. Does it cause more harm than good? I mean, yes, absolutely.
Want evidence to back up (some of) these claims? It’s all available at debatetrack.com, for free, under Evidence. Enjoy responsibly.