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Crisis watch: Greece and the IMF

Europe’s leaders are putting their personal ambitions before the welfare of struggling states like Greece. Time for the IMF to step in

By Simon Johnson   March 2010

Traditionally, “You should go to the IMF” is not something you would say to a friend. Over the past few decades, the IMF has become associated with excessive fiscal austerity and extreme political insensitivity. Countries borrowed from the IMF only when all else failed and when there was no other way to pay for essential imports. For Iceland in autumn 2008, for example, the only alternative to IMF financing was to eat locally sourced goods—mostly fish.

But the IMF has changed a great deal in recent years under the auspices of Dominique Strauss-Kahn, its managing director. Strauss-Kahn, a former French…

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