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The institutional failures of International Monetary Fund conditionality

Abstract : The conditionality employed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in its lending policy is one of the main themes of controversy in the debate on the new international financial architecture. The purpose of this paper is to propose an analytical framework integrating the diverse explanations of the failure of IMF conditionality. Our analysis is based on the idea that the IMF is a key player in the running of markets in a global economy. More precisely, we explain that most of the criticisms concerning conditionality should be analyzed through what we agree to call the institutional failures of IMF conditionality. These institutional failures must be appreciated at two complementary levels: the first level refers to the intrinsic bureaucratic bias of the IMF while the second deals with the inability of the IMF to manage the institutional change required for the development of market processes and hence to maintain the institutional order in recipient countries. Although the first level failures have been particularly well studied via the international public choice approach, those of the second are, at best, often reduced to a simple statement. However, analyzing both levels of institutional failure of the IMF together is not without implications for the way in which the reforms of conditionality are conceived. Indeed, by including an analysis of the second level of failures, i.e. those relating to the relationship between conditionality and domestic institutional change, the recommendation of ex-ante conditionality emanating from the public choice approach, which tackles the first level of failures, will be invalidated. Instead a new approach will be proposed that suggests the separation of the role of the IMF as financial backer from its role as adviser to countries confronted by the globalization process.
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Jean-Pierre Allegret, Philippe Dulbecco. The institutional failures of International Monetary Fund conditionality. The Review of International Organizations, 2007, 2 (4), pp. 309-327. ⟨halshs-00238490⟩

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