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4/24/08

Spooky Development: IMF Friendly & Approachable to LatAm

Hooda thunkit, homie?

Anoop wears his hair in a different way

Remember that know-it-all arrogant attitude that the IMF paraded around in the late 90s and early 00s? The bit where they declared on which LatAm country was good and which was bad? The way they gave advice, then said "Not our fault" when it all went wrong? Well maybe the act of being unceremoniously chucked out of the region might have finally made an impression on the guys in suits. Today, Anoop Singh........

Anoop Dogg meets his adoring fans

Anoop caught on camera as he mulls
over
dark matter economics theory

......wrote a post in RGE Monitor's Latin American blog. Now you may know Anoop for his music, but he's also the Western Hemisphere Department of the IMF which basically means he be head honcho for this neck of the woods. This discerning Otto thoroughly recommends his essay and urges you to read it (linked right here dude). Two good reasons for this:

1) It's not too technical in nature and approachable for the non-economist (ie no funny words, no squiggly symbols, minimal blinding by science)

2) For the first time since I dunno when, I'm actually reading an IMF dude and thinking, "Yeah, he's right.......good attitude.......yup, that's true.......you've got a point there, dude...." etc etc etc.

Highlights include:
  • LatAm is doing better than most people expected
  • This is not just due to good luck in commods prices, but smarter gov't policies
  • Although Snoop thankfully didn't mention the horrid word, there's a certain amount of decoupling going on
  • Some places are doing better than others, nobody's doing really badly, but the better gov'ts are now investing in infrastructure
  • Structurally, LatAm is better equipped than ever to see out a rough moment in world economics
  • Better social spending programs are needed (Man, my mouth dropped open on that one. Hearing an IMF biggie say "take that money and spend it on the poor" was so cool)
  • He even hinted (though didn't actually come out and say) that central bank intervention isn't such a bad idea at this time*
He outlined the risks that the region faces, too (commods prices might drop...duh) and recommends something called "counter cyclical policy" (speciality of Chile...don't worry 'bout it too much....it's just a fancy econ-way of saying "save for a rainy day") but his conclusion just about catches the general mildly optimistic feel of the note:

"....our assessment is that with policy makers focused on safeguarding the gains of recent years, Latin America can remain much more resilient to the current global slowdown than in the past...."

And that's as close as you'll ever get to hearing the IMF say "you're doing fine without us". But perhaps the coolest thing of all is the whole idea that the main IMF man for the region is making the effort to write on a popular blog. This guy is actually coming out of the stuffy meetings and getting it on with us mere mortals, so for both the message and the manner, the Singh dude deserves serious kudos.

So no more joking and puerile mis-spelling of names. This guy in the photo here is Anoop Singh of the IMF, and he did good today. And if that's confused you cos you expect Otto to automatically slag off any member of the establishment and only cheer for the marginals, then tough titty to you and feel confused. Credit where credit is due. Now go read his note.

Ok...Ok...Anoop Singh of the IMF

*The precise phrase; "...Recent inflationary pressures constitute an important test of the autonomy of central banks in curbing the second round effects of food prices on inflation, and reining in very rapid recent credit growth. Their efforts need to be supported with flexibility in other aspects of the macroeconomic policy mix, especially exchange rate and fiscal policies..."