The bizarre battle between IMF, well-meaning charities like Oxfam and poverty

WASHINGTON, Oct 24, 2007 (LBO) – At this year’s annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund and the largest lender to poor countries, the World Bank, there were no high profile protests by charities and lobby groups. Deficit-happy charities would have plenty of work to do then, helping out a new set of freshly created poor. Top civil society groups were inside the IMF building making their voices heard to the two Bretton Woods twins as well as the media.

Despite being housed in the same buildings for a time the two sides are divided by a yawning gulf of ideology as well as a sharp division on how to achieve the same goal – that of poverty alleviation.

The gap seems widest with perceptions about the role of the IMF.

The monetary watchdog tells countries how to conduct monetary policy, or preserve the value of paper money and avoid economic crises; a concept that is barely understood by even monetary economists themselves.

LBO talked to Oxfam, one of the fiercest critics of the IMF to understand why a charity that is speaking on behalf of the poor could object to policies aimed at low inflation, which is perhaps the best safety net that the poor of any country could have.

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