Monday, February 9, 2009

Every Body Pays

"They control your money. They control your government. They control your life. And everybody pays."
--Tagline for the forthcoming feature film, The International.

Every time you think, Nah, it can't really be that bad, it turns out to be worse. According to the left-wing propagandists at Novosti Press Agency--I mean the Financial Times--the IMF and the Paris Club are holding up Chinese investment in the Congo in part because the DRC still owes them money from the Mobutu era. (The Chinese, you will remember, offered to pay for a raftload of infrastructure projects such as roads, schools and clinics, in return for access to Congolese minerals.)
On paper, even if the details contain flaws, the deal could benefit Congo. If it has not turned out so, it has much to do with the toxic legacy of Congo’s relations with the west. The country is saddled with $10bn of external debt stored up from the days of Mobutu Sese Seko, the dictator. It has little to show for it, and certainly no roads or schools. This was money used to appease a cold war ally long after it became clear President Mobutu was stashing it in Swiss banks. Yet Congo’s western creditors are reluctant to write it off only to see new debt contracted to China on commercial terms.
This story is so outrageous that had it appeared in the Nation I'd have blown it off. Let's recap: The IMF loans billions of dollars to Mobutu, knowing perfectly well that . . . but now they claim they are concerned . . . and won't let the Chinese pay for schools, clinics and roads... and actually have the stones to say. . . even though the DRC desperately needs . . .

Oh, screw it. You can't make this stuff up. A forthcoming movie depicts an inscrutable all-powerful IMF-like bank that assassinates anyone who exposes its secrets. Which goes to show you that even in Hollywood's most perfervid imaginings, the IMF only kills people on retail. This is murder on a wholesale basis, the killing of innocents by policy prescription.

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