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Time for the Annual IMF Dance Party

Last year's IMF/World Bank protest was a colorful demonstration of peaceful alternatives to the culture of war. Is it any more important to protest this year, with Paul Wolfowitz taking office as the new president of the World Bank?

I don't think so.

From today's IMC Newswire in Washington, DC we read:
This weekend protestors will once again descend on Washington to lay seige the IMF and World bank's Spring meetings. This time, however, there is something new: WOLFOWITZ!
My view hasn't changed. The IMF and World Bank were created as part of the Bretton Woods Agreements of 1944, and they exist for a reason. Bretton Woods (like the US constitution) was not expected to last for long in it's original format and to a certain extent it's functions have been subsumed by a variety of international trade agreements over the past 60 years.

I'd recommend reading the agreements before blindly calling for an end to what remains of Bretton Woods. It might indeed be more appropriate to demand a return to the principles of the original document.

Article One begins:

To assist in the reconstruction and development of territories of members by facilitating the investment of capital for productive purposes, including the restoration of economies destroyed or disrupted by war, the reconversion of productive facilities to peacetime needs and the encouragement of the development of productive facilities and resources in less developed countries.

The entire text is online as part of the Avalon project at Yale, and it is worth a study. Frankly, I don't blame those IMF bankers for ignoring the uniformed masses who haven't even heard of Bretton Woods.

As for the appointment of Wolfowitz, that's another matter of minimal importance. The world might indeed be better off with his appointment to the World Bank. The US and EU have maintained a balance of power, with one controlling the IMF and the other controlling the World Bank. In recent years, they have often been at odds. And they are not the only institutions affecting the condition of an increasingly complex global economy. At this year's WEF, for example a possible solution to the plight of developing nations drew unexpected support:

The French president said nations could apply a very low tax to a fraction of international financial transactions of some $3 trillion a day. It would need to be based on cooperation between the major world financial markets to keep people from evading it.
On one hand, an uninformed protest against the existence of institutions designed to prevent global economic chaos serves no purpose at all, and on the other hand, the appointment of a war criminal as head of the World Bank is not unprecedented.

When the release of the Pentagon Papers established a trail of corruption leading to the desk of Robert M. MacNamara, architect of the Vietnam war, what happened to him?

He resigned and was appointed director of the World Bank.

Coincidently, Wolfowitz and MacNamara have more than a few things in common. One is INDONESIA.

When I published a comedy piece about MacNamara's history a while back, I had no clue how funny reality would become.

Building a Bigger Debacle: from Edsel to the World Bank

As the weekend approaches, the story will continue to break, and hopefully the agitation will bring some informed opinions to the public stage.

David Roknich,



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