Elite hauteur: Greece, Niger and the IMF

In her widely cited interview with The Guardian on 26 May, the head of the IMF Christine Lagarde demanded that Greece should pay back the debt it owes, forget about defaulting, and put its house in order by getting people to pay their taxes. She swept aside the suggestion that Greeks might be suffering real hardship by choosing to side with the plight of genuinely poor in beleaguered countries such as Niger. She added to the chorus of elite opinion circulating for some decades now that failing states in need of support be treated like errant children, taught to become responsible, learn to follow instructions, recognise their misdeeds, abandon past habits. Infantilising governments and peoples is the precursor to reform in the image of the authorising centre. This is how third world countries that found themselves heavily in debt during the 1980s were treated, and later Central and East European countries trying to revive their economies in the early 1990s after the collapse of state socialism and in the face of IMF dismantling the state while instituting deep austerity cuts, along with a group of East Asian and Latin American countries that suffered deep currency crises in early 2000s. Today, it is turn of weak Eurozone countries such as Greece caught out by bad debts and stilted growth. Disturbed by market instabilities in an interdependent global economy, but also ready to pounce on opportunity, the richer market economies and their ideologues and bankers such as IMF have worked hard over the last forty years to caricature countries that don’t tow the line or play the market game in their own way. Moral evaluation is the means by which expanding elites seek to discipline the operating environment, reassert their authority, position themselves for future gain. Above all during periods of economic turbulence and uncertainty, when the balance between crisis as opportunity or threat hovers around stories of good and bad governance that guide institutional and financial allocations. If we see Lagarde’s comments in this light, that is, as the play of powerful to rearrange chessboard and rewrite its rules, comparison between Niger and Greece rings hollow, since one script of moral adjudication of economic worth endures. In the 1980s, after a decade of liberal investment by cash-rich transnational banks to a plethora of developing countries including Niger to fund greed of wasteful local elites but also modernisation programmes and market openings that would ultimately favour transnational corporations, exporting nations, donors and their natural allies in the west began to fret about getting their money back. The loans were huge and interest rates high and long-term, while recipients scrambled around or borrowed more to service mounting debts at a time of economic contraction playing into hands of global corporations, strongest economies, a small number of newly industrialising countries (…..)

Link: http://www.opendemocracy.net/ash-amin/elite-hauteur-greece-niger-and-imf

Acerca de ignaciocovelo
Consultor Internacional

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