One day after Greece became the first developed economy to default on a loan with the International Monetary Fund, the head of the international lender on Wednesday suggested Athens should move to reform its economy before its European creditors give it a break on its debt.
In an interview with Reuters, IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde avoided any pointed criticism of Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras but still hinted at frustrations as she noted that Greece’s economy had been on the road to recovery before the current left-wing Syriza party came to power.
Also see: my interview with Christine Lagarde
As French finance minister in 2010, Christine Lagarde opposed the involvement of the International Monetary Fund in Greece.
Lagarde’s tenure at the head of the IMF since 2011 will be shaped by Greece, which holds a referendum on Sunday that could pave the way for its exit from the euro.
By its own admission the Washington-based institution broke many of its rules in lending to Greece. It ended up endorsing austerity measures proposed by the European Commission and European Central Bank, its partners in the troika of Greece’s lenders, instead of leading talks as it had done with other countries such as Russia.
The World Bank indirectly invests part of its $18.8 billion staff pension fund in companies in industries such as coal and tobacco, holdings that clash with the development institution’s own calls for ethical and low-carbon investing.
In eight International Monetary Fund programs since independence in 1991, Ukraine has completed just one successfully. A year on from Russia’s seizure of Crimea, it looks unlikely it will live up to the terms of its latest deal with the IMF also.
Ukraine’s finance minister believes the IMF’s money is “not forever”, but over-optimistic economic assumptions and continued fighting in the east of the country will probably mean Ukraine will end up depending on foreign support given on its geopolitical significance.
Russian officials are pushing for the International Monetary Fund to move ahead with planned reforms without the United States, which could mean the loss of the U.S. veto over major decisions at the global lender, sources said.
Leading British jewellers launched certified “Fairtrade” gold on Wednesday, in a bid to boost livelihoods of artisanal miners working in perilous conditions and ensure ethical standards and traceability.
Celebrity jeweller Stephen Webster joined the push to sell gold jewellery made with the new Fairtrade label, part of a growing market in ethical goods ranging from tea to travel.