Moreover, the IMF's behavior should come as no surprise: it approached the problems from the perspectives and ideology of the financial community, and these naturally were closely (though not perfectly) aligned with its interests. As we have noted before, many of its key personnel came from the financial community, and many of its key personnel, having served these interests well, left to well-paying jobs in the financial community. Stan Fischer, the deputy managing director who played such a role in the episodes described in this book, went directly from the IMF to become a vice chairman at Citigroup, the vast financial firm that includes Citibank. A chairman of Citigroup (chairman of the Executive Committee) was Robert Rubin, who, as secretary of Treasury, had had a central role in IMF policies. One could only ask, Was Fischer being richly rewarded for having faithfully executed what he was told to do?
But one does not need to look for venality. The IMF (or at least many of its senior officials and staff members) believed that capital market liberalization would lead to faster growth for the developing countries, believed it so strongly that it did not need to look at any evidence and gave little credence to any evidence that suggested otherwise.
In an extraordinary paragraph, the book all but accuses Stanley Fischer, the Fund's deputy managing director during the years in question, of corruption: he inflicted needless punishment on borrowing countries, Mr Stiglitz implies, in return for a nice fat job with Citibank, whose interests that policy served. The author himself knows this is rubbish. Mr Fischer—no less eminent an economist than Mr Stiglitz, by the way—is a man of (hitherto) unquestioned integrity, admired right across the profession. With assaults such as these, Mr Stiglitz only shreds his own credibility.
So there. Fischer is a man of unquestioned integrity so any questions about his integrity must be rendered unquestions.
A Speech to the MIT Club of Washington
By Thomas C. Dawson
Director, External Relations Department
International Monetary Fund
17. As part of this score-settling, Stiglitz has made some very mean-spirited observations about Fund staff and officials, past and present. One charge in particular should not go unanswered, particularly before this audience. Stiglitz notes that Stanley Fischer, the former deputy head of the IMF and former MIT professor of economics, went straight from the IMF to Citigroup. Stiglitz adds: "A chairman of Citigroup was Robert Rubin who, as secretary of Treasury, had a central role in IMF policies. One could only ask, Was Fischer being richly rewarded for having faithfully executed what he was told to do?" To anyone who knows Fischer's utter devotion to institutions he works for, whether it was the IMF or MIT, the suggestion that he used twisted IMF policies to ensure a job at Citicorp is repugnant. Stiglitz surely knows that Fischer is regarded as a man of unimpeachable integrity and yet he cannot resist the jibe at him.
Seriously, I don't doubt that Dr. Fischer is, relatively speaking, a fine fellow, well above average both in intelligence and morals for a Big Time economist / politician. After all, Fischer couldn't have gotten to be the intellectual godfather of the economists running the global economy for the last two decades if he didn't possess supple intelligence and interpersonal skills.
Hence it's only natural that these incredibly powerful people want to reward their friend and mentor, and crush the slightest skepticism about Fischer's right to work as a top policymaker for two separate countries in succession. Because if outsiders, or even other top economists like Stiglitz, are allowed to ask any questions about a great guy like Fischer, who knows what they could ask about the rest of our gang?