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Publication Details

Reference
Bond, Patrick (1999) Global Economic Crisis: A View from
South Africa. Journal of World Systems Research  Vol 2 Summer : 413--455.

Summary
Introduction: Pretoria v. Washington?
Any analysis of the erratic unfolding of global economic crisis is bound to be hotly contested. This is particularly so in mid-1999, amid claims from Washington that the past two years’ dangers of financial meltdown and deflation were averted and fi nally extinguished through a combination of policy measures and good fortune: slightly looser Federal Reserve monetary policy adopted in September 1998, in the immediate wake of the successful public-private bailout of the Long Term Capital Management hedge fund; a new $90 billion International Monetary Fund (IMF) insurance scheme announced the following month; the convening of key countries in a Forum on Financial Stability; the lack of financial contagion (contrary to expectations) in the wake of Brazil’s January 1999 currency meltdown; the long-awaited revival (however infi rm) of the Japanese economy; new plans for somewhat more transparent budgetary and exchange rate systems in emerging markets; and a decision at the G-8 Cologne meeting in June 1999 to sell 10% of the IMF’s gold to fund partial debt relief for the poorest Third World countries. Indeed many observers were surprised at IMF Managing Director Michel Camdessus’s success at turning the debt relief strategy into a vehicle for tougher “Enhanced Structural Adjustment Facility” conditions, just months after the IMF was criticised to the point of ridicule for its East Asian, Russian and Brazilian mishaps (effectively, granting $200 billion in bad loans over 15 months, in exchange for the application of inappropriate austerity measures). To add insult to injury, an IMF plan to unite foreign bankers so as to avoid fracturing their power in forthcoming bankruptcy negotiations with sovereign states was unveiled to a select group on March 1, 1999, when Camdessus spoke—behind-the-scenes to an Institute of International Bankers meeting in Washington—of the parallel need for “creditor councils” which discipline “individual ‘dissident’ creditors” who catalyse “panic-stricken asset-destructive episodes” through too-zealous foreclosure actions.

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