IMF signals trouble – for us all

IMF signals trouble – for us all

You can tell when people are getting into trouble these days. From Bishops to Bankers they send out strident messages telling others to do the right thing. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has just done this in style. I quote from Financial Times of 25th February 2016:

The International Monetary Fund has urged the world’s leading economies to join forces and take bold action in a bid to boost growth, highlighting concerns that global market turbulence is starting to hurt the real economy.

Interesting. Would they like to tell us what the unreal economy is, then?

I enjoy the way the IMF puts it. They say the G20 “must plan now for co-ordinated demand support using available fiscal space to boost public investment and complement structural reforms”. I’m sure we’d agree with that if we knew what it meant. As it is, this is all part of a programme called passing the buck. The IMF knows we are in trouble so it is already composing memos saying “See what you’ve done now” closely followed by “I told you so”.

Shrewd Jack Lew, the US Treasury Secretary, was ahead of them. He blamed China and vociferously told them to get their economy in shape so the rest of the world can carry on. Just in case anyone thought he was picking on China, he added that Germany and ‘other European countries’ were at fault for not applying more fiscal stimulus. He said it was no good everyone looking to the US to solve the problem. In fact, he could have gone further but he didn’t like to start another political row in the US, I expect. No flies on Jack.

Mr Lew finally managed to cover the only remaining part of his anatomy that was exposed by declaring that “This is not a moment of crisis” so we could all forget it if we thought the G20 was going to take any notice of – or do anything about – the dire situation we are in. You’ve got to hand it to these chaps, haven’t you? I couldn’t say that even in front of a firing squad.

One of the lessons I learn from all this is to avoid the word ‘boost’. It means nothing, even when applied in its original context ‘to boost morale’. Beloved of journalists because it covers such a wide range of possibilities, it is a dangerous substitute for thoughtful, practical action. When G20, IMF and others of that ilk start using it I know it is a dead word and their organisations are on the way to being moribund.

But do not despair, help may be at hand – the United States is going to elect a new President. Examine the worthy candidates for the job. I thought I liked Mrs Clinton until I discovered that she didn’t know how to send confidential emails. President Pretenders should be savvy about stuff like that in today’s ISIS world. Or Blow the Trumpet for Trump. He’s quite clear about things. There’s America, and the rest of the world is flat. No, he’ll not be advocating subtle economic solutions.

So who is going to solve the volatility that is upsetting so many of us? Well, you tell me – but please don’t say anyone is going to ‘boost’ the world’s economies.

‘Boost’ sounds so like boot, don’t you think?