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"the Imf Itself Should Be On Trial"

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I've been dissing the IMF since I found out about their base motives and activities some years ago - now it's hitting and being written about openly in the MSM

The Irish should tread carefully and boot the IMF Gangsters out at their convenience!

Johann Hari: It's not just Dominique Strauss-Kahn. The IMF itself should be on trial

Imagine a prominent figure was charged, not with raping a hotel maid, but with starving her, and her family, to death

Friday, 3 June 2011

Sometimes, the most revealing aspect of the shrieking babble of the 24/7 news agenda is the silence. Often the most important facts are hiding beneath the noise, unmentioned and undiscussed.

So the fact that Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the former head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), is facing trial for allegedly raping a maid in a New York hotel room is – rightly – big news. But imagine a prominent figure was charged not with raping a maid, but starving her to death, along with her children, her parents, and thousands of other people. That is what the IMF has done to innocent people in the recent past. That is what it will do again, unless we transform it beyond all recognition. But that is left in the silence.

To understand this story, you have to reel back to the birth of the IMF. In 1944, the countries that were poised to win the Second World War gathered in a hotel in rural New Hampshire to divvy up the spoils. With a few honorable exceptions, like the great British economist John Maynard Keynes, the negotiators were determined to do one thing. They wanted to build a global financial system that ensured the money and resources of the planet were forever hoovered towards them. They set up a series of institutions designed for that purpose – and so the IMF was delivered into the world.

The IMF's official job sounds simple and attractive. It is supposedly there to ensure poor countries don't fall into debt, and if they do, to lift them out with loans and economic expertise. It is presented as the poor world's best friend and guardian. But beyond the rhetoric, the IMF was designed to be dominated by a handful of rich countries – and, more specifically, by their bankers and financial speculators. The IMF works in their interests, every step of the way.

Let's look at how this plays out on the ground. In the 1990s, the small country of Malawi in Southeastern Africa was facing severe economic problems after enduring one of the worst HIV-AIDS epidemics in the world and surviving a horrific dictatorship. They had to ask the IMF for help. If the IMF has acted in its official role, it would have given loans and guided the country to develop in the same way that Britain and the US and every other successful country had developed – by protecting its infant industries, subsidising its farmers, and investing in the education and health of its people.

That's what an institution that was concerned with ordinary people – and accountable to them – would look like. But the IMF did something very different. They said they would only give assistance if Malawi agreed to the 'structural adjustments' the IMF demanded. They ordered Malawi to sell off almost everything the state owned to private companies and speculators, and to slash spending on the population. They demanded they stop subsidising fertilizer, even though it was the only thing that made it possible for farmers – most of the population – to grow anything in the country's feeble and depleted soil. They told them to prioritise giving money to international bankers over giving money to the Malawian people.

So when in 2001 the IMF found out the Malawian government had built up large stockpiles of grain in case there was a crop failure, they ordered them to sell it off to private companies at once. They told Malawi to get their priorities straight by using the proceeds to pay off a loan from a large bank the IMF had told them to take out in the first place, at a 56 per cent annual rate of interest. The Malawian president protested and said this was dangerous. But he had little choice. The grain was sold. The banks were paid.

The next year, the crops failed. The Malawian government had almost nothing to hand out. The starving population was reduced to eating the bark off the trees, and any rats they could capture. The BBC described it as Malawi's "worst ever famine." There had been a much worse crop failure in 1991-2, but there was no famine because then the government had grain stocks to distribute. So at least a thousand innocent people starved to death.

At the height of the starvation, the IMF suspended $47m in aid, because the government had 'slowed' in implementing the marketeeing 'reforms' that had led to the disaster. ActionAid, the leading provider of help on the ground, conducted an autopsy into the famine. They concluded that the IMF "bears responsibility for the disaster."

Then, in the starved wreckage, Malawi did something poor countries are not supposed to do. They told the IMF to get out. Suddenly free to answer to their own people rather than foreign bankers, Malawi disregarded all the IMF's 'advice', and brought back subsidies for the fertiliser, along with a range of other services to ordinary people. Within two years, the country was transformed from being a beggar to being so abundant they were supplying food aid to Uganda and Zimbabwe.

The Malawian famine should have been a distant warning cry for you and me. Subordinating the interests of ordinary people to bankers and speculators caused starvation there. Within a few years, it had crashed the global economy for us all.

In the history of the IMF, this story isn't an exception: it is the rule. The organisation takes over poor countries, promising it has medicine that will cure them – and then pours poison down their throats. Whenever I travel across the poor parts of the world I see the scars from IMF 'structural adjustments' everywhere, from Peru to Ethiopia. Whole countries have collapsed after being IMF-ed up – most famously Argentina and Thailand in the 1990s.

Look at some of the organisation's greatest hits. In Kenya, the IMF insisted the government introduce fees to see the doctor – so the number of women seeking help or advice on STDs fell by 65 per cent, in one of the countries worst affected by AIDS in the world.

In Ghana, the IMF insisted the government introduce fees for going to school – and the number of rural families who could afford to send their kids crashed by two-thirds. In Zambia, the IMF insisted they slash health spending – and the number of babies who died doubled. Amazingly enough, it turns out that shoveling your country's money to foreign bankers, rather than your own people, isn't a great development strategy.

The Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz worked closely with the IMF for over a decade, until he quit and became a whistle-blower. He told me a few years ago: "When the IMF arrives in a country, they are interested in only one thing. How do we make sure the banks and financial institutions are paid?... It is the IMF that keeps the [financial] speculators in business. They're not interested in development, or what helps a country to get out of poverty."

Some people call the IMF "inconsistent", because the institution supports huge state-funded bank bailouts in the rich world, while demanding an end to almost all state funding in the poor world. But that's only an inconsistency if you are thinking about the realm of intellectual ideas, rather than raw economic interests. In every situation, the IMF does what will get more money to bankers and speculators. If rich governments will hand banks money for nothing in "bailouts", great. If poor countries can be forced to hand banks money in extortionate "repayments", great. It's absolutely consistent.

Some people claim that Strauss-Kahn was a "reformer" who changed the IMF after he took over in 2009. Certainly, there was a shift in rhetoric – but detailed study by Dr Daniela Gabor of the University of the West of England has shown that the substance is business-as-usual.

Look, for example, at Hungary. After the 2008 crash, the IMF lauded them for keeping to their original deficit target by slashing public services. The horrified Hungarian people responded by kicking the government out, and choosing a party that promised to make the banks pay for the crisis they had created. They introduced a 0.7 per cent levy on the banks (four times higher than anywhere else). The IMF went crazy. They said this was "highly distortive" for banking activity – unlike the bailouts, of course – and shrieked that it would cause the banks to flee from the country. The IMF shut down their entire Hungary programme to intimidate them.

But the collapse predicted by the IMF didn't happen. Hungary kept on pursuing sensible moderate measures, instead of punishing the population. They imposed taxes on the hugely profitable sectors of retail, energy and telecoms, and took funds from private pensions to pay the deficit. The IMF shrieked at every step, and demanded cuts for ordinary Hungarians instead. It was the same old agenda, with the same old threats. Strauss-Kahn did the same in almost all the poor countries where the IMF operated, from El Salvador to Pakistan to Ethiopia, where big cuts in subsidies for ordinary people have been imposed. Plenty have been intimidated into harming their own interests. The US-based think tank the Center for Economic and Policy Research found 31 of 41 IMF agreements require 'pro-cyclical' macroeconomic policies – pushing them further into recession.

It is not only Strauss-Kahn who should be on trial. It is the institution he has been running. There's an inane debate in the press about who should be the next head of the IMF, as if we were discussing who should run the local Milk Board. But if we took the idea of human equality seriously, and remembered all the people who have been impoverished, starved and killed by this institution, we would be discussing the establishment of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission – and how to disband the IMF entirely and start again.

If Strauss-Kahn is guilty, I suspect I know how it happened. He must have mistaken the maid for a poor country in financial trouble. Heads of the IMF have, after all, been allowed to rape them with impunity for years.

http://www.independe...al-2292270.html

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The IMF/World bank forced an 'Economic Structural Adjustment Programme' on Zimbabwe in the early 90's..

Quote from article:

When at the outset of ESAP in 1991, ZANU (PF) abandoned its mild social welfarism of the 1980s to go into partnership with the World Bank as Africa's newest reform-oriented star performer, the party promised reduced unemployment, less bureaucratic red tape, higher productivity and rapid wealth creation. The price for rapid development, it cautioned, was short-term deepening hardship in the form of social services cutbacks, skyrocketing consumer prices, the swamping of local markets with imports and sharp temporary increases in unemployment.

But while suffering over the last five years proved even more intense, widespread and chronic than the state initially predicted, the pay-offs did not materialize. Five years on, most of government's promises remain unfulfilled, while the hardship of ordinary Zimbabweans seems without end.

Despite its comparatively high-performing economy over much of the 1980s, Zimbabwe now appears firmly lodged in a quagmire of mounting debt, generally inadequate growth and plummeting living standards. Most macroeconomic indicators show continued overall decline and little relief on the horizon.

Sound familiar?

Full article here:

http://www.africafiles.org/article.asp?ID=3896

Edited by Flatdog

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If you watched the first episode of that Alan Curtis documentary you will see an IMF boss standing over a leader as he signs the acceptance documents for a bail out deal. Think it was the leader of Thailand. Failure to do so, it was implied would result in the leader being deposed.

This has been repeated numerous times, in the Far East, Russia (though they defaulted) Europe and to certain extent in the US itself.

Capital floods in, bigger fools get sucked in, resulting in a huge debt/property bubble, followed by an invitable bust prompting economic collapse and an economy in tatters.

The cure? "ah you weren't capitalist/free market enough!" The result is social security cuts, more austerity and an economy in ruins while it repays the bankers. These bails out are not the countries but for the bankers. IMF = Wall Street.

And now Greece may loose its sovereignty. 5000 years of history down the toilet:

http://www.businessi...ereignty-2011-5

Specifically, according to a bombshell FT report, outside authorities will take over various functions related to tax collection (a big time problem in Athens) and privatizations.

This is effectively a coup de tat and occupation of a Nation State by the banks.

The only country wise to it are the Chinese who have played the West at their own game.

Edited by Sir John Steed

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Yep, the IMF forced the leaders of several countries to sign up to bailouts in the form of massive loans, in order to leave the rich investors able to get their money out, and leave the citizens of that country with the tab.

Rotten to the core.

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Erranta, what do you make of the rumour that DMK was taken down because he discovered there is no gold in the US treasury?

Thats what some say.

Its funny watching the difference in public reaction to Assange and Khan being accused of similar things.

One 'must' be innocent because he steals and publishes classified data he decides shouldn't be classified

One 'must' be guilty because he's a banker.

All i know is if you react in a way opposite to the sheeple, you're probably right.

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Thats what some say.

Its funny watching the difference in public reaction to Assange and Khan being accused of similar things.

One 'must' be innocent because he steals and publishes classified data he decides shouldn't be classified

One 'must' be guilty because he's a banker.

All i know is if you react in a way opposite to the sheeple, you're probably right.

That's not really true- The idea that Khan was set up has got a lot of currency, even in the MSM.

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+1 The IMF are just there for the investor to get their money out of the country, just look at Greece.

Thing is who benefits from the IMF actions, which investors?

Umm German Banks might be among the "investors?" laugh.gif

Credit Suisse and Deutshe Bank who are currently looting and pillaging Greece, who were in receipt of 0.01 % loans from, The Fed in the secret "St Omo" operation.

Edited by Sir John Steed

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Erranta, what do you make of the rumour that DMK was taken down because he discovered there is no gold in the US treasury?

Prob one of their ruses cos fort kn-ox has the OXford mark - just like kn-ife manufacturer Victorinox=Swiss Army =Pope/Vatican

Probably was empty after bent US Elites had paid off armaments, ammo and "Agent Orange" (William - Dutch V.O.S. symbollism) poison sprays to the Big Boys like Monsanto during Vietnam!

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Erranta, what do you make of the rumour that DMK was taken down because he discovered there is no gold in the US treasury?

I heard a weird rumour that Gaddafi was being taken out because he was planning to launch a gold dinar coin for use across Africa and the Middle East.

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The IMF is not capitalist - it is corporatist - it serves the interests of large multinationals and banks.

that said - if politicians could learn (be forced) not to borrow money they can't pay back then the IMF would wither pretty quickly.

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'...Hungary kept on pursuing sensible moderate measures, instead of punishing the population. They imposed taxes on the hugely profitable sectors of retail, energy and telecoms, and took funds from private pensions to pay the deficit...'

How can that ever be right?

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Thats what some say.

Its funny watching the difference in public reaction to Assange and Khan being accused of similar things.

One 'must' be innocent because he steals and publishes classified data he decides shouldn't be classified

One 'must' be guilty because he's a banker.

All i know is if you react in a way opposite to the sheeple, you're probably right.

Assange is accused of rape because initially the woman asked him to use a condom, then afterwards let him have sex with her without one. Under the rediculous laws, even though she consented, it's counted as rape, because she initially said to use a condom. Basically, it's just a witch hunt.

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Guest sillybear2

I heard a weird rumour that Gaddafi was being taken out because he was planning to launch a gold dinar coin for use across Africa and the Middle East.

Here's one for the tin foil hatters :-

http://blogs.forbes.com/afontevecchia/2011/05/31/goldman-sachs-lost-98-of-libyas-1-3b-sovereign-wealth-fund-investment/

Clearly Gaddafi was taken out because Goldman don't do refunds :P

As for the IMF, it's a global debt collection agency.

"Your country may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your debts"

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One 'must' be guilty because he's a banker.

The bailouts were simply too blatant.

Now the whole world knows we've been fleeced by the banks and want blood.

It's going to be much harder for the banks to make money in the next decade.

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Fantastic article.

Is it really that surprising that the IMF is a corrupt, corporatist organization which attempts to operate in the best interest of the USA? Not really.

Yes, I too believe DSK was completely set up. I mean since when does the US government give a rat's ass about the sexual exploitations of a foreign dignitary? Umm, they don't. Unless said foreign person is a threat to their monetary system and economy.

If the USD was NOT the primary currency of the world, do you think the US could get away with $14.3 TRILLION of debt. (Anyone else wonder how they are going to pay it back?)

The US economy is about to fall and fall big. It is a shame Obama didn't take more drastic action with the financial sector when he had the chance. Now I think it is just too late.

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Fantastic article.

Is it really that surprising that the IMF is a corrupt, corporatist organization which attempts to operate in the best interest of the USA? Not really.

Yes, I too believe DSK was completely set up. I mean since when does the US government give a rat's ass about the sexual exploitations of a foreign dignitary? Umm, they don't. Unless said foreign person is a threat to their monetary system and economy.

If the USD was NOT the primary currency of the world, do you think the US could get away with $14.3 TRILLION of debt. (Anyone else wonder how they are going to pay it back?)

The US economy is about to fall and fall big. It is a shame Obama didn't take more drastic action with the financial sector when he had the chance. Now I think it is just too late.

I'm suspicious of the whole way the DSK thing was made so public, and so quickly, the arrest, photo's in handcuffs, down to an ordinary police station to get charged and then a night on the island.

It was almost as if it was designed to trash the guy before the story could be properly investigated, where were the US equivilent of Special Branch or DPG who would have been involved in something like this in the UK, would a US Senator accused of the same thing get that treatment? , why didn't they hold him under house arrest for 24 hours while the story was checked was the evidence so open and shut?

I'm not suggesting he should be shielded if he's guilty, but it just seems like they immediately went for the "this guys a scumbag" route without asking questions, which in itself is suspicious

Someone like DSK with his known liking for the opposite sex would be very easy to set up, and sex crime is a very easy way to set someone up where it is very hard for a man to claim your innocense and be beleived.

May not be just the US though, DSK was widely tipped to be the next French president, the French secret service weren't above planting limpet mines on the Rainbow Warrior!

Edited by madpenguin

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do you think the US could get away with $14.3 TRILLION of debt. (Anyone else wonder how they are going to pay it back?)

Well, obviously, they are going to print it. The majority of that "debt" is owned by the Fed anyway.

Is it just me or does anyone else find talking about money and debt as two separate entities Orwellian double think? They are the same thing under the current system.

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Guest sillybear2

Fantastic article.

Is it really that surprising that the IMF is a corrupt, corporatist organization which attempts to operate in the best interest of the USA? Not really.

Yes, I too believe DSK was completely set up. I mean since when does the US government give a rat's ass about the sexual exploitations of a foreign dignitary? Umm, they don't. Unless said foreign person is a threat to their monetary system and economy.

Yeah, he's a "socialist" so obviously completely innocent or a victim in some way. There's no way he's simply a dirty old alleged rapist that finally went too far :rolleyes:

DSK was stepping down anyway within a month or two, whatever the shortcomings of the US Govt the only thing they appear guilty of here is applying the law equally.

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I'm suspicious of the whole way the DSK thing was made so public, and so quickly, the arrest, photo's in handcuffs, down to an ordinary police station to get charged and then a night on the island.

Funny enough was thinking about that last night watching Paul Merton's Hollywood series.

A film stars career, in this case Ricardo Arbuckle, was ruined by a hotel party he didn't want. He was accused of rape, following the death of a young woman, all due to an unreliable (female) witness, a local D.A on the make and hoping to have a shot at the Presidency and a Motion Picture Industry needing a "scapegoat" to make it appear it had cleaned up its act, to avoid being banned from towns and cities all over the States.

It required three trials to establish his innocence. By the time his career had recovered, he dropped dread from a heart attack. In a sense its all "bread and circus" making a token gesture but the looting and lying goes on as before, but the public are in some was "appeased."

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<br />'...Hungary kept on pursuing <b>sensible moderate measures, instead of punishing the population</b>. They imposed taxes on the hugely profitable sectors of retail, energy and telecoms, and<b> took funds from private pensions to pay the deficit</b>...'<br /><br /><br />How can that ever be right?<br />

Partly due to some obscure rip-off of the population on joining the EU in 2004?

"Hungary was established in 895, some 60 years after the division of France and Germany at the Treaty of Verdun in 843"

By Margit Feher

The Hungarian government Wednesday approved a set of measures

to force Hungarians back into the state’s pension scheme and make life more difficult for any surviving private pension funds.

The measures are aimed at helping the country meet strict budget deficit targets set by the European Union.

Those Hungarians who decide not to return fully to the state’s pension scheme from their private pension funds will lose their right to the portion of the state pension they would have received based on future contributions, Economy Minister Gyorgy Matolcsy said.

Hungarians will have until Jan. 31, 2011, to decide whether they opt to return fully to the state’s pay-as-you-go pension regime. Only the private pension fund members who wish to remain in their respective pension funds will need to express their wish. Those who don’t do that will automatically return to the state scheme.

“They have two options: they either stay or decide to return, [and] both decisions have their consequences,” Matolcsy said at a press conference in parliament after a government meeting.

The assets of those who decide to return to the state scheme will be kept in individual accounts and will remain inheritable by the spouse, Mr. Matolcsy said.

Hungary has a pay-as-you-go state pension scheme with a mandatory private pension-fund regime complementing it, as a result of a pension-system reform in 1997. Voluntary payments into private pension funds are also possible, but they have been negligible compared with the rest of the system.

Most Hungarians of working age are members of a private pension fund. The savings of those three million or so people total 2.8 trillion forints ($14.2 billion), or about 10% of Hungary’s gross domestic product. One half of the amount is invested into foreign and Hungarian stocks and the other half in government bonds.

Under the current regime, private pension fund members were to receive 70% of their future pension from the state and 30% from the proceeds based on personal savings in private pension funds. The system was designed to boost domestic savings and produce a sense of higher personal self-sustainment. The government guaranteed to top up the amount to be received from the private pension fund should that amount fall short of the 30% portion of the 100% pension amount.

Now, the government no longer guarantees to top up any missing amounts, Mr. Matolcsy said.

Hungary earlier withheld private pension fund contributions for 14 months starting in November. The government will compensate the fund members for that, making them eligible for state pension for that period, Mr. Matolcsy said.

The government will use the assets returned to the state to pay pensions this year and next year, and the remainder to pay public debt, the minister said. Hungary has the highest debt levels in central and Eastern Europe, making it the most sensitive to changes in financial market sentiment.

Starting Jan. 1, 2012, the government will cap the asset management fee for private pension funds to 0.2% of proceeds from members, down from the current 0.8%, and it will limit their operation costs to 0.9% of the proceeds, compared with 4.5% now, Mr. Matolcsy said.

At present, Hungarian employers pay 24% of their employees’ gross wage to the state as a pension contribution. That will remain unchanged for those employees who decide to remain private pension fund members.

Employees pay a total of 9.5% of their gross wage in pension premium, including 8% of the gross wage to the private pension funds. The 9.5% payment will rise to 10% from January. Those who wish to remain members in the private pension funds will pay the 10% to their respective pension funds after Jan. 31, and those returning to the state pension scheme will pay the 10% into the state coffers.

http://blogs.wsj.com/emergingeurope/2010/11/24/hungary-forces-private-pension-fund-members-back-to-state-scheme/

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  • 284 Brexit, House prices and Summer 2020

    1. 1. Including the effects Brexit, where do you think average UK house prices will be relative to now in June 2020?


      • down 5% +
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