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Fuelling Ambition or Fending Off Risk? Revisiting the International Monetary Funds's Role in Sub-Saharan Africa

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What does the International Monetary Fund's (IMF) response to the financial crisis say about its past and future roles in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA)? To find answers, this article explores the tensions between the "old" Fund's efforts to entrench "sound" macroeconomic policies and the "new" IMF's plans to insure its members against global volatility. The paper outlines the risks associated with the pursuit of IMF policy advice, reviews the Fund's engagement in Angola and Mozambique, and discusses how these experiences reflect on its future role. The case studies suggest that whilst countries that work with the Fund are more resilient than those that go at it alone, resilience comes at the cost of a more ambitious developmental state—not because the Fund hampers aspirations, but because it cannot leverage ambition. The study concludes that rather than glossing over the political cost of risk insurance, the IMF should target its assistance to governments that are prepared to make, explain, and follow-up on the difficult choices.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2011-05-01

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  • The St Antony's International Review (STAIR) is the only peer-reviewed journal of international affairs at the University of Oxford. Set up by graduate students of St Antony's College in 2005, the Review has carved out a distinctive niche as a cross-disciplinary outlet for research on the most pressing contemporary global issues, providing a forum in which emerging scholars can publish their work alongside established academics and policymakers. Past contributors include Robert O. Keohane, James N. Rosenau, and Alfred Stepan.
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