International Monetary Fund

After six decades of zealously promoting free market economic policies, the International Monetary Fund has traded its dogmatism for pragmatism, NPR reports. For years, governments that dared to challenge the IMF model found themselves out of favor in Washington and other Western capitals. But the financial crisis that swept the planet in 2008 prompted a new debate over free market policies and IMF ideology. Now, in a notable turnaround, the IMF has acknowledged that in some instances, developing countries might benefit from controlling how much foreign capital enters their economies — and how it’s used. The new IMF view is summarized in an official paper published last month, “Capital Inflows: The Role of Controls.” After examining the experience of governments that have regulated capital flows, the IMF authors concluded that such policies helped reduce “financial fragility,” the U.S. public radio station reports.

The IMF has warned the world’s wealthiest nations to watch their surging levels of government debt, saying it could drag down the growth needed to ensure continued economic recovery. The economic crisis is leaving “deep scars in fiscal balances, particularly in the advanced economies,” John Lipsky, the IMF’s No. 2 official, told the China Development Forum in Beijing, AP reports. He said countries that have been going into debt to stimulate their economies should prepare for belt-tightening steps next year. “Policymakers should be making it clear to their citizens why a return to prudent policies is a necessary condition for sustained economic health,” said Lipsky, who is the fund’s deputy managing director, according to remarks prepared for the conference. The IMF projects that gross general government debt in the Group of Seven advanced economies, except Germany and Canada, will rise from an average of about 75 percent of GDP at the end of 2007 to about 110 percent of GDP at the end of 2014, Lipsky said.

Rape in wartime is a scar on modern society that must be stamped out by ending impunity and changing men’s attitudes towards women, says Margot Wallstrom, the United Nations’ first special representative on sexual violence in conflict. Wallstrom, a Swede and the former European Commissioner for Institutional Relations and Communication Strategy, took the job because she sees it as an irresistible opportunity to make a difference. “The whole world should stand up and say this must come to an end,” she told AlertNet. Wallstrom officially starts the new role in April, but has already assumed many of the responsibilities that come with it. She plans to travel to Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) later this month on her first assignment. A five-year war in the DRC officially ended in 2003 but violence lingers on. Millions have died and tens of thousands of women and young girls have been raped.

About the author