IE Focus || The IMF wants to be a Hedge Fund

IE Focus | By Fernando Fernandez, professor at IE Business School

The IMF’s absurd proposal to buy debt from threatened European countries like Spain or Italy would have made it into a hedge fund, and it would have been developing countries that paid the price.Ever since the Mexico peso crisis resulted in the so called tequila effect in the early nineties, the International Monetary Fund has been trying to find the formula to prevent financial contagion. To be more specific, it has been searching for the way to stop financial market dynamics from unfairly impacting countries that have no serious solvency problems, but which will end up having them if they fall out of favor with investors, who then pull out en masse causing spiraling debt differentials coupled with a credit crunch. But what it has not done so far is to suggest that it should serve as a highly speculative investment fund that would intervene directly in the debt market, stockpiling the currencies of countries under threat. This is exactly what Portugal’s Antonio Borges, the inexperienced head of the European Department, proposed. The suggestion was only on the table for the space of a few hours, because it was such a ridiculous idea, so out of synch with the nature and functions of the IMF, that he had to withdraw it before the end of the day.