Monday, August 15, 2011

Lagarde Indulges in Newspeak

Christine Lagarde, at last liberated from Nicolas Sarkozy's tutelle, should be finding her own voice, but if today's pronouncement from the IMF director is any indication, she's singing falsetto, and the lyrics are in Newspeak:
There are no easy answers. ... slamming on the brakes too quickly will hurt the recovery ... what is needed is a dual focus ... that may sound contradictory ...
Will the markets buy such an approach? In some countries, they seem to be pushing for sharp fiscal adjustments. And some policymakers have decided that is the road to follow. But in many countries a short-term focus would be wrong. We should remember that markets can be of two minds: while they dislike high public debt – and may applaud sharp fiscal consolidation – as we saw last week they dislike low or negative growth even more.
Forgive me, but this sounds like the doctor in Molière prescribing la vertu dormitive, except in this case she's prescribing la vertu stimulative, mais pas trop. And how about naming names? "Some countries" indeed. Is Mme Lagarde out of her depth?

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Oh come come, the head of the IMF does not write her own speeches, she conforms to house-speak as set down by the media department, in much the same way as Obama et al do.

Anonymous said...

If Christine Lagarde were a man, the suggestion she is "out of her depth" would not have occurred to the writer this early on. Madame Lagarde is a sharpie.

Arthur Goldhammer said...

Surely the director of the IMF can influence the content of her own speeches, as Barack Obama does (and he writes some of his speeches himself, by the way). As for the charge that I wouldn't be so critical of a man, you're wrong. My criticism of Lagarde stems from her lack of knowledge of finance, banking, and economics. I have no doubt that she is a competent lawyer, but I think that in the domains she must master in her current job, she is at the mercy of conventional wisdom, and conventional wisdom is what we already have too much of.