Tuesday, September 13, 2011

IMF and Obama Administration Now Joined at the Hip (and heart)

We have posted elsewhere about the interesting turn of events which place top Chicago labor/antitrust lawyer Christine Lagarde at the head of the IMF, after the curious turn of events which rendered that office vacant.

We gathered by her resume that she was a fellow traveller with the "Chicago School" -- not the Friedrich Hayek - Milton Friedman "Chicago School," sillies, but the Marx - Daley - Ayers - Emanuel - Wright one -- she was, after all a Chicago labor/antitrust lawyer.

Her declaration at Jackson Hole that the US and ECB must "abandon austerity" -- which can only mean, "forget balancing your budgets and cutting your deficits" -- and employ "stimulus" -- which can only mean, "print more money (for the 'weaker nations,' presumably)" -- we have dubbed The Lagarde Dictum, for its sheer presumption of authority.

Now comes word from Bloomberg about an even deeper "Chicago School" (read, "Obama administration") tie to Miss Lagarde, the International Monetary Fund and The Lagarde Dictum. We take the liberty of emphasizing the points key to this series of posts.

David Lipton, a former adviser to Obama, spent five weeks as a special adviser to Christine Lagarde, the new IMF managing director, before starting as her first deputy this month.

Lipton played a substantial role in drafting a speech Lagarde gave at the Federal Reserve’s annual forum in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, according to three IMF officials who declined to be named because the information isn’t public.

Lagarde said in the speech that European banks should be [urgently] forced to build up their capital to prevent the continent’s debt crisis from infecting more countries.

Lipton held various positions in the 1990s at the Treasury, where he worked with Geithner in the international affairs division.

“The way the U.S. handled the financial crisis and the lessons learned from that could become a much more important part of the IMF message to Europe,” said Eswar Prasad, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington and a professor at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.

“Lipton has been very much a part of what’s been happening in terms of the financial system and broader recovery effects,” Prasad, a former head of the IMF’s financial studies division, said in an interview yesterday. “Almost certainly those lessons are going to be much more incorporated into the senior management’s thinking.”

The IMF and World Bank meet Sept. 23-25 in Washington.

The IMF is looking more and more like an International Fed, or at least an agency of the United States Treasury, every day. And if those agencies' handling of the US financial meltdown are "going to become much more incorporated into [IMF] senior management's thinking," is that a good thing?

We have pointed out elsewhere why The Lagarde Dictum is a disastrous idea both in its prescriptions and in its brazen presumption of authority, and why forcing banks to build additional (Basel III) capital reserves in the midst of a global capital drought could be the final nail in the coffin of the European market economy. Now the situation in the European financial sector is measurably worse. Of Geithner's recent visit to Europe,
The visit “underlines the nervousness of the administration in the U.S. about what’s happening in Europe” and the effect the region’s debt crisis is having on U.S. financial markets, Julian Jessop, chief global economist at Capital Economics Ltd. in London, said in an interview
If Geithner believes that what's bad for Europe's banks is bad for America, why is his team promoting the very policies that will kill their capital markets?

If France and/or Germany elect to resist the pressure to bail out the "weaker nations," will they find themselves at odds with the IMF? Will they find friends in China? Russia? Or will they "see the light" of Lipton's and Geithner's gospel and submit to The Lagarde Dictum? Aren't they already bailing out the weaker Euro nations, by bailing out their own banks that have loaned to said nations? If that's the case, then all the talk is a formality -- the bailouts are underway. As recently as last week, we believed that the markets are pricing in "Eurobonds."

And just who is David Lipton, and why is he shaping global financial policy?


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