Why does it take 12 years

for the IMF to own up to its mistakes? So it seems.

So, what exactly were its mistakes at the time of the Asian crisis? In the IMF’s own words,

“The IMF learned important lessons from the Asian crisis. In particular, the Fund recognizes that while tough measures are needed to address deep economic problems, the conditions accompanying its programs need to be more focused on the problems at hand, and it needs to be more conscious of the social impact of those programs. The IMF has sought to apply this and other lessons to its more recent lending programs. The example of Asia’s resilience during the current crisis and the examples of good practice from the region have helped inform IMF advice to other member countries.”

We can translate the Fundese roughly as follows:  “The IMF had a doctrinaire Washington-Consensus approach that didn’t work. But Asia today has resilience and good practice that we will try to emulate.”

But how did Asia “survive” the 2008 crisis?  In the words of the IMF’s Managing Director:

“Why such Asian resilience? Part of the answer is certainly the wide range of macroeconomic, financial and corporate sector reforms implemented over the last decade. These reforms began, painfully, during the Asian Crisis—but they have been sustained since then and there is no doubt they have helped Asia withstand the brunt of the crisis. That is a lesson for the rest of the world.”

So there it is. Asia is strong today because it implemented reforms that the IMF itself advised during the 1997 Asian crisis! The IMF should be congratulated after all.

So, why the so-called “apology”?  And what if the so-called resilience turns out to be just plain luck?


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