An Inside View of the IMF’s Massive Global Influence
Klaus Brinkbäumer and Ullrich Fichtner - 10/04/2010
Three years ago, the International Monetary Fund was irrelevant, an object of derision for all opponents of globalization. Under director Dominique Strauss-Kahn and as a result of the global economic crisis, the IMF has since become more influential — governing like a global financial authority. It is also putting Europe under pressure to reform.
The building that houses the headquarters of the global economy is a heavily guarded, 12-story beige structure in downtown Washington with a large glass atrium and water bubbling in fountains. The flags of the 187 member states are lined up in tight formation.
Visitors walking into the office building find the cafeteria on the right, where many meetings are held. There, experts in their shirtsleeves, their jackets draped over the backs of chairs, drink lattes out of paper cups and talk countries into crises or upturns. A little farther down the hallway is the Terrace, the IMF building’s upscale restaurant where the director receives official guests.
On a Tuesday afternoon in late September, as the first leaves are falling from trees outside, the director, wearing a blue suit and a blue tie, is sitting on a blue couch high up in his office at the headquarters of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), outlining his idea of a new world. Some of it already exists, in the form of a new world order established in September 2008 to replace the one that was collapsing at the time. The result wasn’t half bad — but it is robust?
‘The Money Is The Medicine’
These are important times for humanity. The crisis has forced everyone to see many things from a new perspective. Now the IMF is preparing for its annual meeting on Oct. 8. Can it live up to expectations, and can it police the new global economic order and keep global banks in check?
“You have to imagine the IMF as a doctor,” says Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the 61-year-old director of the International Monetary Fund. “The money is the medicine. But the countries — the patients — have to change their habits if they want to recover. It doesn’t work any other way.” He smiles benevolently as he says these things, his eyes disappearing behind small cushions of wrinkled skin.