IMF chief says ‘put people first’
IMF Director General Dominique Strauss-Kahn used a speech in Agadir, Morocco on 1 November to set out a stinging critique of the past wave of globalisation – “Lurking behind it was a large and growing chasm between rich and poor, especially within countries” – and a call for a new model: “a globalization with a human face, where people come first, and where growth and equity always go together.” His speech calls for higher wages for ordinary workers and the freedom to bargain collectively. The quotes which follow give even more of a flavour of a remarkable speech from one of globalisation’s elite, and a very different picture of reality from the one we’re being force-fed by neoliberals. Here are some of the best bits:
“More unequal countries have worse social indicators, a poorer human development record, and higher degrees of economic insecurity and anxiety. In too many countries, inequality increased and real wages stagnated—failing to keep up with productivity—over the past few decades. Ominously, inequality in the United States was back at its pre-Great Depression levels on the eve of the crisis.”
“Fundamentally, the growth model that co-existed with globalization was unbalanced and unsustainable…. Inequality may have actually stoked this unsustainable model. In countries like the United States, borrowing seemed to allow ordinary people to share in the rising prosperity.”
“Tax and expenditure policies can support fairness and economic stability. Adequate social safety nets are essential, including decent unemployment benefits. And here, the IMF is working closely with the ILO on the concept of a social protection floor for people in poverty or vulnerable situations…. Progressive taxation can also promote equity through redistribution, and this should be encouraged.”
“We should also make sure that workers have adequate bargaining power, especially if this lies at the root of rising wage inequality. Collective bargaining is important. But we must avoid dual labor markets that create stark divisions between protected insiders and excluded outsiders.”
“The mandate of the IMF is economic and financial stability, the sure foundation of human development. We care about inequality not only on grounds of common decency, but because inequality threatens this stability…. To achieve this goal, we need the openness delivered by globalization, but we also need global growth that is equitable and stable. We need a new globalization.”
Only a cynic would suggest that this was a speech designed to accept nomination as the Socialist candidate to succeed Sarkozy as President of France.