Tuesday 16 January 2018

Economics is now a science almost devoid of agreement

Christine Lagarde, head of the IMF
Christine Lagarde, head of the IMF
Dan O'Brien

Dan O'Brien

THERE was no shortage of scores being settled in Washington this weekend. In the US capital, where the annual joint spring meeting of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank is being held, finance ministers, central bankers and policy-making bigwigs from all over the planet are assembled. Giving this year's event spice are the serious gripes that some of the biggest beasts attending have with each other. Three spats stand out.

Mario Draghi, chief of the European Central Bank, is not pleased with his co-hosts, the IMF. Ten days ago, he politely told Christine Lagarde, the Fund's boss, to keep her nose out of Frankfurt's affairs after she had implicitly criticised him for not using his monetary powers more aggressively to prevent deflation in the eurozone.

Draghi, subtly hinting at a pro-American bias at the IMF, went on to wonder aloud if Lagarde's organisation would have had the temerity to speak so plainly to the US central bank, which, as it happens, is located just a few blocks away from the Fund's headquarters.

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