Camdessus: "I have a sense of having been associated with great things"

Doug Henwood dhenwood at
Mon Nov 22 20:57:12 PST 1999

[From the resignation press conference of IMF managing director Michel Camdessus in the November 22 IMF Survey <>. The publication's cover story informs us that "From the beginning of his tenure, Camdessus gave a strong emphasis to the social aspects of economic adjustment and growth." People will say anything.]

QUESTION: What do you consider your most important achievement here in 13 years, what's your greatest frustration, and also what's next for you?

CAMDESSUS: I will take the questions in the opposite order. What's next for me? It's extremely simple - to go to my country to enjoy my constitutional rights to life, freedom, and pursuit of happiness. Frustrations? Not to have been able to reverse significantly this propensity of the world to make this institution a scapegoat for whatever catastrophe occurs. And I have not been able to give a good name to the things the IMF must do - and does well, I believe - to help countries in stabilization and structural adjustment. If I am proud of something that occurred during the past 13 years, it is that inflation went down in the world. All of you have heard me say many times that inflation is the most cruel tax on the poorest countries and on the poorest among the poor. I have a sense of having been associated with great things. I have seen a consensus form in the world to bring poverty alleviation and human development concerns to the heart of our policies. It was a great moment for me when this consensus was formed. I have seen the golden rule of transparency emerge as one of the chief features of the new international financial architecture. I believe that to establish transparency in the relationship between people and institutions is great progress toward stability and fairness. And, indeed, I was very happy to see the world recognize that this institution had to be trusted for surveillance of not only macroeconomic developments but also the soundness of banking and financial sectors and to help, with its expertise, countries going in a well-sequenced way toward freedom of capital movements. It was great to be here to help Latin American countries get out of debt or at least to bring debt to a sustainable level, to be here at the time the Berlin Wall went down - and this institution was entrusted with helping those countries go to market economies, whatever the misgivings and difficulties in the process. It was great to help the Asian crisis countries in the midst of the most adverse circumstances. Finally, to do what the students in Djakarta put on their banners, "Down with corruption, nepotism, and collusion" - this is what the IMF was doing, and we are immensely proud, the staff and myself, to have been there to do that.

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