Memo To: Michel Camdessus, IMF director
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: Unwittingly Evil
When I watched Margaret Warner interview you on the Jim Lehrer "NewsHour" last Friday night, on the subject of the Korean economic crisis and IMF bailouts in general, it reminded me how happy I remain in having identified you earlier this year as “The Most Evil Man in the World,” and later “The Most Dangerous Man in the World.” By this, I meant no disrespect, sir. I haven’t the slightest doubt that you truly believe the work you have done as head of the International Monetary Fund for the past dozen years and more has been worthy. On the other hand, I’m persuaded that your policies and direction have caused more deaths than all the combat deaths on earth during your tenure. These “IMF deaths” have occurred through starvation, malnutrition, disease and civil war, all caused by the inverted policies you have enthusiastically promoted. I hope you realized during your interview by Ms. Warner that she did not believe a word you said. Your record is catching up with you. Your idea that the IMF can help South Korea out of its imploding financial structure by forcing it to balance its budget is a criminal one. Meaning no disrespect, sir, but I believe you are a serial bureaucrat.
In early 1994, Mr. IMF Director, you may recall during the Mexico peso crisis that Jack Kemp issued a public statement from his offices at Empower America calling for your immediate resignation or removal, on the basis of simple incompetence. A close political friend of mine for more than 20 years, Kemp, a gentle and generous man, had rejected as too extreme other options to deal with you that I recommended: 1) public flogging; 2) public execution by wild horses; 3) a private exorcism. I notice you boasted to Margaret Warner that the work you did in Mexico was so successful that its economy is now growing at 7% a year, faster than at any previous time in its history. May I be so bold, sir, to point out that it was the IMF that goosed Mexico into what your professional economists hoped would be a simple 10% devaluation. When it became a 50% peso avalanche, the IMF-induced devaluation meant the economy would have to grow by 7% a year for several years in order to get back to where it was when you created the mess. I urge your eminence to stop taking credit for cleaning up part of the mess you made in Mexico.
At the risk of being thought presumptuous, your highness, I humbly suggest you attempt to make amends in Korea by reversing some of the policies you have already initiated. First, I recommend you fire your chief economist, the illustrious, but misinformed and incompetent, Stanley Fischer. You can make the point emphatically, I believe, by personally throwing him down the steps of the IMF building in Washington and having all his books and papers thrown after him. As a bonus, ask the District of Columbia police to have him incarcerated. Then, announce to the Koreans that you have discovered a terrible blunder in your arithmetic, which means they do not have to raise taxes, cut spending, and devalue the won some more, in order to fix things up. You can tell them to not cut spending, cut tax rates, and appreciate the won, by having its central bank sell won bonds to make won currency scarce.
I write to you, magnificent munificence, only out of my belief that no human being is 100% evil, that even in the darkest leaders of the Evil Empire, there is a slight chance, maybe 1%, of redemption.