Rogoff Critique Should be No Surprise, A Letter to the Editor by Graham Hacche, Deputy Director, External Relations Department, IMF

July 9, 2002

Rogoff Critique Should be No Surprise
A Letter to the Editor
By Graham Hacche
Deputy Director, External Relations Department
International Monetary Fund
Submitted to The Times but not published
July 9, 2002

Sir:

Professor Stiglitz would have your readers believe that he was "ambushed" by a "surprise attack" by IMF Chief Economist Ken Rogoff at the June 27 World Bank launch of Stiglitz's new book ("How I was ambushed by the IMF", July 8).

That Rogoff responded to Stiglitz's attacks on the IMF should have come as no surprise. Prof. Stiglitz was not ambushed, but he was called to account for what he has written. And as the Economist effectively makes clear in its current issue, there was actually a lot of substance in Mr. Rogoff's address. If Prof. Stiglitz is looking for examples of character assassination, he should re-read his own book instead.

Prof. Stiglitz regularly dispenses with inconvenient facts to make his accusations against the IMF. One such fact in this case is that it was the organizer of the book launch, the World Bank, that announced that the event was off-the-record, not the IMF as Stiglitz says. And in any case, off-the-record means only that participants can't be quoted by others: it is not a gag order. Mr. Rogoff is free to express his views where and how he pleases.

Again, Prof. Stiglitz says that he sought a dialog with the Fund during the Asian Crisis. It is an inconvenient fact that he simultaneously launched a media campaign against the IMF and the policies being pursued by crisis-stricken countries, which not only made a serious dialog impossible, but also undermined confidence in the rescue packages supported by the international community, including the IMF and the World Bank.

While making often baseless attacks against the IMF, Mr. Stiglitz calls for substantive issues to be debated, and for government agencies like the IMF to be called to account. The IMF has published detailed reviews of the actions it took during the Asian Crisis and in other contexts—which can be found on our website, www.imf.org. While it has made mistakes, it continues to learn from them and to reform itself accordingly. Visitors to the website will also find there details of IMF lending agreements, and a vast array of information on other IMF activities, which make it clear that what he says is "one of his main criticisms"—that the IMF is "cloaked in secrecy"—has no more substance than most of his others.





IMF EXTERNAL RELATIONS DEPARTMENT

Public Affairs    Media Relations
E-mail: publicaffairs@imf.org E-mail: media@imf.org
Fax: 202-623-6278 Phone: 202-623-7100