George Osborne’s sneering smile said it all as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) heaped praise upon his economic vision for Britain this week.
The IMF insisted that austerity is “essential” to achieve “a more sustainable budgetary position”.
In other words, Tory cuts are not too deep—if anything, they are not deep enough.
The right wing press crowed. They said the chancellor was vindicated and that we don’t need a “plan B” to get out of the recession.
Try telling that to the millions of people who lie awake at night in fear of losing their job and being unable to pay the rent.
Or to parents whose nightmares feature their children trapped in a re-run of the 1980s recession.
The IMF has no such worries.
The history of the fund shows that its only concern is the health and wealth of banks and markets.
During the 1980s, the IMF pushed “structural adjustment programmes” that ruined Third World countries.
Today, as recession grips much of Europe, it still has only one set of remedies for countries in crisis—cut public spending, drive down wages, and increase profits.
This doesn’t solve economic crises.
But it does help the rich get richer—at our expense.
As Joseph Stiglitz, former chief economist at the World Bank, said, “When the IMF arrives in a country, they are interested in only one thing.
“How do we make sure the banks and financial institutions are paid?
“They’re not interested in development, or what helps a country to get out of poverty.”
Even the IMF, and its star pupil Osborne, are forced to admit Britain’s economy is at best stagnating and shows no sign of coming out of recession.
They know that the cuts are making matters worse but that to withdraw them now risks a key government objective—the fundamental restructuring of the welfare state.
This project is meeting stiff resistance.
Throughout southern Europe, general strikes and protest camps are the order of the day.
And with pressure also rising in Britain, the chance to make the IMF choke on its words may be coming sooner than it thinks.