Meanwhile, in a galaxy far, far away …

by John Quiggin on October 27, 2008

This story about the IMF rescue package for Ukraine (second of many to come, after Iceland) quotes Timothy Ash, head of emerging-market research at Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc in London as saying

`The money is only half of the issue, conditionality is key. We hope the fund is maintaining its push for a more flexible exchange rate, far- reaching reforms in the banking sector and more privatization.’’

Mr Ash, just returned from a six-week holiday on Mars, was reading from his prepared boilerplate script and had yet not been advised of the recent nationalisation of the Royal Bank of Scotland.

(found in today’s AFR)

{ 10 comments }

1

Stuart 10.27.08 at 10:33 pm

I wonder how much less of a bailout they would have needed if they stopped sending me (and all the rest of their customers) so much spam, and calling me up regularly to try and get me to buy yet another form of insurance I don’t want.

2

Ginger Yellow 10.27.08 at 10:39 pm

Nice post. It’s one of the things that struck me – how strangely familiar the IMF prescriptions were to the last wave of interventions, despite all that we have learned since 1997. It’s not very encouraging.

3

peter 10.27.08 at 11:30 pm

Surely, as an Australian, you realize that advising one set of policies to your debtors while seeking enactment of a different set of policies from your creditors is in keeping with a long-standing British colonial tradition: Sir Otto Niemeyer was busy advising Australasian Governments to maintain debt repayments to Britain during the Great Depression at the same time as the British Government itself was seeking payment relief from their creditors in the USA.

4

Stuart 10.28.08 at 12:18 am

So a government that was going bankrupt paying off its debt wanted another government that owed them money to pay it? How hypocritical of them.

5

DC 10.28.08 at 12:19 am

Nice chutzpah.

6

lisa 10.28.08 at 2:05 am

I was hoping, for my Icelandic friends, that Iceland would be able to dodge the IMF lasso.

It’s so nice of the IMF to step in and ‘help’ Ukraine in this way, isn’t it? And a few conditions are all they ask.

7

Rich Puchalsky 10.28.08 at 2:10 am

It’s always been this way, and will continue to be this way. Capitalism for the rubes; state socialism for the important people.

8

blah 10.28.08 at 2:54 am

Mr. Ash does not speak for the IMF. Whatever conditions Mr. Ash might hope the IMF imposes on Ukraine, those are not necessarily the actual conditions agreed by the parties.

9

Hugh Stimson 10.28.08 at 3:22 am

I’m encouraged by your collective optimism, but all snarkiness aside, I’m expecting to see both austerity measures and deregulation tied to IMF actions over the next weeks and months. Faith in free-market elegance runs deep in the international quasi-governmental financial crowd.

10

Leeds9 10.28.08 at 6:56 am

Nope. It doesn’t signify Mr Ash’s preferred holiday destination, rather it signifies that nothing much has changed. The rules haven’t changed, the players haven’t changed and the game hasn’t changed. So rather than get an apology from RBS, we get clarification that their beliefs and understandings haven’t changed one jot. Surely we can’t be surprised.

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