Mr. Marco Arnone
Buon giorno! Hello, I’m Marco Arnone (say "ar-NOH-nay"), an IMF economist. I am most fascinated by looking at things from the broad picture more than just the little details.
The faces behind IMF functions
Some people like to get into very many details. But when I look ahead at a country’s economic future, I must look at the broad picture to see where it is going.
Attention to the big picture is what sets our work at the IMF apart from other international financial institutions such as the World Bank. We get the macro framework, but they actually get into the nitty-gritty. Our work precedes theirs. But their work is more on the ground. They actually go around to villages. The World Bank has to supervise specific development projects that it lends money to support. We only lend to the government to support the balance of payments, for example, when a country has a foreign exchange shortage because imports exceed exports. In this case, the member country and the IMF agree on a program to restore macroeconomic stability. This is an important distinction to make.
A large part of my job is to visit member countries as part of a team from the IMF. Every year we put together the general "story" of a country’s economy, based on our visit. We sit down with officials from the government and central bank. We look at fiscal issues such as whether the government is running a budget deficit. We look at monetary issues like the inflation rate and interest rates. We ask questions like, "Is the economy growing?"
Many developing countries need to establish or strengthen many of the financial institutions and structures that more affluent countries use to keep their economies stable and productive. So we also provide member countries with technical assistance from the IMF, such as know-how setting up a bond market or helping the government manage its finances more efficiently.
The government representatives discuss among themselves what they might need. We give advice for reforms and an evaluation of the country’s economy. We encourage them to make reforms. For example, banks may be having problems with people defaulting on their loans. So we can suggest steps the government could take to strengthen regulations and the enforcement of laws.
My work is not about just designing cold-blooded programs. I’m also
trying to get people to trust each other. Building up dialog on economic
issues is fundamental. We try to do everything in a very cooperative spirit.
I don’t want to sound too optimistic, but really the result of an
economic program is definitely much better if it is based on a shared
vision of what is best for the country and everybody endorses what is
to be done. I should stress that we don’t go around imposing things.
There seems to be this ingrained idea that we work on top of the countries.
Today, we are trying to work as a team with the countries. The more we
open up the decision-making processes at the IMF and in the countries,
the better it will be.
Looking ahead, our biggest challenge is getting used to global changes. Economies evolve, countries change. We have to facilitate these changes and to facilitate growth in our member countries. Since every day they have challenges, these are also our challenges.
The Fund is really a unique institution globally. We have to think globally every day. We are keeping an eye on 184 countries every day, and on the economic health of the system as a whole. We play a vital role in coordinating policies and providing ideas that get shared between countries and institutions. Macroeconomic stability is a big task that no other institution in the world can do.