–Very revealing interview with Christine Lagarde, managing director of the IMF

Mitchell’s laws: The more budgets are cut and taxes inceased, the weaker an economy becomes. To survive long term, a monetarily non-sovereign government must have a positive balance of payments. Austerity = poverty and leads to civil disorder. Those, who do not understand the differences between Monetary Sovereignty and monetary non-sovereignty, do not understand economics.

Here are excerpts together with translations:

Christine Lagarde: Emerging Market Nations Will Get More Power in the IMF
By KNOWLEDGE@WHARTON | April 16, 2012 |

Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), sees no alternative to the strict austerity policies being rosed on many peripheral European countries, says the double dip recessions in Italy and Ireland just announced come as no surprise . . ..

Translation: She sees “no alternative to strict austerity” and is not surprised by the double dip recession in nations adopting strict austerity. It doesn’t even enter her mind that strict austerity is what causes recessions.

After a distinguished legal and consulting career, Lagarde was named France’s Minister for Foreign Trade and then became the first woman to hold the post of Finance and Economy Minister of a G-7 country.Forbes ranks her as the 9th most powerful woman in the world (right behind Michelle Obama) and the 39th most powerful person on the combined men’s and women’s list.

Translation: She’s a lawyer practicing economics, who was promoted way beyond her skill level. Her policy is to lend to those who cannot repay. They cannot repay because she insists they destroy their economies with austerity.

Christine Lagarde: As part of this fragile recovery that we have been seeing since January, we have always considered that Europe and the euro zone in particular would go through a mild recession. The countries that are driving the recession at the moment are clearly countries like Ireland, Greece, Portugal and Italy. So this doesn’t come as a surprise. It’s part of a process that we had anticipated and were forecasting for 2012.

Translation: “Captain, we hit an iceberg and now the ship is sinking.”
“Don’t worry. It’s part of a process I had anticipated before we left port.”

Knowledge@Wharton: Related to that, austerity has been one of the chief policy levers Europe has been using to deal with the crisis. Do you think European leaders have focused on austerity too much and gone too far with it? Should a better balance be struck between austerity and stimulus?

Lagarde: If everybody goes at the same pace with austerity measures, it puts the whole region at risk. What we have advocated consistently now for at least the last six months is that there should be a proper balance within the zone, particularly within the advanced economies. We also need a proper balance between the austerity measures that are necessary and the growth-facilitating measures. So, obviously, it’s not a one-size-fits-all.

Translation: “Austerity” means to spend less and tax more, which always destroys an economy. But some nations are spending less and taxing more too much and some too little. Each nation needs to balance between spending less and taxing more vs spending more and taxing less. We want them to balance growth against shrinkage. If you find this confusing, how do you think I feel?

Some countries can afford to relax a little bit the austerity policy that they had embarked on. Others cannot relax the austerity measures. For instance, Greece is one country that certainly should not relax its measures. Italy is another one.

Translation: The countries in the most desperate economic situation definitely should shrink their economies further, so they can get out of recession and transition directly into depression.

Lagarde: Some countries have to be very, very brutal, in terms of reducing their deficit and bringing sanity to their public finances. The periphery of the core of the euro zone is clearly at stake in that regard.

Translation: As long as my salary continues, I don’t care how brutal the recessions get. By the way, do you have a map. I’m not sure where the “periphery of the core of the euro zone” is. Is it nearer the outside of the inside, or the inside of the outside?

Lagarde: Austerity should not be the exclusive focus of attention. It should not be the underlying general theme across the region in terms of economic policy. I also agree that growth is a key factor to try to not only kickstart, but maintain the recovery that is beginning to take hold in some countries.

Translation: We shouldn’t only use austerity to shrink economies. We also should use growth to grow economies. Got it?

Knowledge@Wharton: Can you have too much austerity in the short term rather than it being spread out more evenly towards the medium and long term?

Lagarde: It depends on the situation. There are some countries in which sharp adjustment is needed in order to be able to bounce back from that situation.

Translation: Rather than answer your question, I’m going to use the same double-talk that made Alan Greenspan fool Congress all those years.

Knowledge@Wharton: You have said that Europe needs deeper integration and bigger firewalls.

Lagarde: I said that when nobody was yet at the table. And now…

Knowledge@Wharton: They’re there.

Lagarde: Almost.

Translation: Don’t think you can pin me down. I’m too slippery for you.

Knowledge@Wharton: The question is, what does deeper integration look like? What would be some medium- and long-term goals for integration?

Lagarde: Deep integration is a recent development. It was much needed in order to consolidate the currency zone. We’ve seen things recently that were totally unexpected and almost unimaginable only 18 months ago. What is important for better integration is a combination of solid fiscal coordination with real discipline imposed upon the partners, including sanctions that are not only applicable, but are also applied if the rules are violated.

Translation: I don’t know what “deep integration” is except I’m all for sanctions, especially if rules are violated — or even if not.

Knowledge@Wharton: Is there a role for the IMF in helping increased integration move forward? Or is this something the Europeans do on their own?

Lagarde: It has to belong to them. It has to be theirs. They should have ownership of all of that. All we can do is identify, demonstrate with the team of great experts, that we have in this institution, the benefits of doing so and the drawbacks of not doing it.

Translation: We tell them to borrow what they can’t repay, and to raise taxes and cut spending, and when this causes the recession we said we expect, it’s all on their heads. Don’t blame us for anything, ever.

Knowledge@Wharton: Is it possible in the medium and long term for the euro zone to keep the common currency without more political integration?

Lagarde: It’s difficult to read into the future. But what we can say is that it would certainly strengthen and make the currency zone much more sustainable and safe. I don’t know whether to call it political integration, but certainly we need much deeper economic and fiscal integration.

Translation: I have no idea what “integration” involves, and I can’t tell whether it would help. Stop asking hard questions.

Lagarde: We all wish there were some magician’s wand we could wave to create jobs. At the end of the day, that is what everybody wants to do. It’s not just about growth in and of itself … it’s about jobs. . . But apart from stimulating growth, apart from an economic situation that warrants the creation of jobs, there is no magical recipe for that.

Translation: Actually, we do have a magical recipe. It’s called “austerity.” We raise taxes and cut government spending, which we know will cause recessions. And that’s how we create jobs.

Knowledge@Wharton: What role could the IMF play in bringing about a better balance between rates of exchange, for example, for a possible re-valuation of the yuan versus the U.S. dollar and the euro?

Lagarde: It’s funny that you would focus exclusively on these currencies, because our job is to assess the appropriate exchange rate — and to actually say what we think of it — for all 187 members of the institution. We do that through appropriate modeling, gathering of data and comparing and taking into account multiple data, including the current account. Probably later in 2012, we’ll be able to come up with a new methodology and model of assessing exchange rates.

Translation: All that data we collect is garbage. We have no idea what the exchange rates should be, we can’t do anything to improve them, whatever improvement involves, and anyway, later this year we’re coming up with a whole new model.

Knowledge@Wharton: Of all the things that you do here, what are you most passionate about? What would you really like to make sure happens? It could be a small thing, it could be a large thing. What is it that really has your heart?

Lagarde: That’s complicated. I think it’s this issue of relevance … that is of real concern to me. You see, this is a very fascinating institution because it’s completely counter-cyclical. When the world around the IMF goes downhill, we thrive. We become extremely active because we lend money, we earn interest and charges and all the rest of it, and the institution does well. When the world goes well and we’ve had years of growth, as was the case back in 2006 and 2007, the IMF doesn’t do so well both financially and otherwise.

Translation: My job is to screw up the world as much as possible so that my employer, the IMF does well. How am I doing so far?

Rodger Malcolm Mitchell

No nation can tax itself into prosperity, nor grow without money growth. Monetary Sovereignty: Cutting federal deficits to grow the economy is like applying leeches to cure anemia. Two key equations in economics:
Federal Deficits – Net Imports = Net Private Savings
Gross Domestic Product = Federal Spending + Private Investment and Consumption + Net exports


7 thoughts on “–Very revealing interview with Christine Lagarde, managing director of the IMF

    1. The graph is a perfect demonstration of why Monetary Sovereignty is different from monetary non-sovereignty. The federal government is Monetarily Sovereign. State and local governments, businesses, you and I are monetarily non-sovereign.

      I wonder what there is about the prefix “non” these people don’t understand.

      Here are some “non” prefixes. I wonder whether the creators of the graph understand the difference “non” makes.

      nonabsorbent. nonacceptance. nonaccomplishment. nonachievement. nonachiever. nonadaptive. nonaddictive. nonadhesive. nonadjacent. nonadsorbent. nonage. nonaggression. nonagon. nonalcoholic. nonalignment. nonappearance. nonarbitraty. nonassociative. nonbeliever. noncaloric. noncausal. nonce. noncellular. nonchalant. nondeductible. nondescript. nondigestible. nondisposable. nondrinker. nondriver. nonelective. nonentity. nonessential. nonexempt. nonetheless. nonexistent. nonexplosive. nonextant. nonfatal. nonfiction. nonfigurative. nonfinancial. nonflammable. nonfunctional. nonglutinous. nongranular. nongregarious. nonharmonic. nonhereditary. nonhierarchic. nonhuman. nonimmune. nonindulgent. nonimflammatory. nonintegrated. nonintervention. noninvasive. nonionized. nonjudgmental. nonkosher. nonleaded. nonlegal. nonlethal. nonlinear. nonlinguistic. nonliteral. nonliving. nonmagnetic. nonmetallic. nonmoving. nonmusical. nonnatural. nonnegative. nonnomadic. nonnormative. nonobjective. nonobservant. nonoccurrence. nonopening. nonoperational. nonoscillatory. nonparallel. nonpayment. nonpolitical. nonprofit. nonpublic. nonracial. nonradioactive. nonreader. nonreflective. nonresistant. nonrigid. nonruminant. nonsense. nonslippery. nonsmoker. nonspecific. nonstarter. nonsubjective. nonsurgical. nonsyllabic. nonsynthetic. nontaxable. nontoxic. nonturbulent. nonuniform. nonunion. nonuple. nonverbal. nonviolence. nonvolatile. nonvoluntary. nonwashable. nonwoody. nonworker.nonrewnewable

      Their whole graph is nonsense.

      Those who do not understand the difference between Monetary Sovereignty and monetary non-sovereignty do not understand economics.


  1. “When the world goes well and we’ve had years of growth, as was the case back in 2006 and 2007, the IMF doesn’t do so well both financially and otherwise.”

    The success of their “business model” is based on the world not doing well? I wonder if they have a conflict of interest? After all, it is in their financial and otherwise interest for the world to need their help! And what does “otherwise” mean?

    This is insane.


  2. “The IMF is in a very good position … to demonstrate to the world that … it has the ability to raise additional finance from other countries very, very quickly if it needs to do that,” Timothy Geithner said at the Brookings Institution.

    “I think that’s good because that will prove to the world that there’s a substantial capacity that can reinforce what Europeans are doing and help cushion, if necessary, the effects of any European trauma on the rest of the world.”

    (Except, the IMF benefits when the world economies fail.)


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