The people of Ukraine are about to be fed to the loan sharks of western banks and the IMF
The effect of the IMF intervention, acting in the interest of western creditors rather than the Ukrainian people, will be only to further impoverish the population of Ukraine.
In return for the latest $17bn bailout of Ukraine the IMF insists on dramatic measures in five main areas of the economy: a sharp currency devaluation, which will increase the cost of all imported goods, a government-funded bailout for domestic banks, government spending cuts, measures to regulate money laundering and a sharp increase in energy prices.
The latter are particularly ironic, since the widespread story in the west is that it is the Russian oil giant Gazprom that is threatening price hikes. The IMF calls for energy prices to be increased by between 240% and 425% over the next four years. No wonder Ukrainian prime minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk says he will be "the most unpopular prime minister in the history of my country".
Many of the usual arguments are advanced for the terms, such as the emergency need to "stabilise government finances". But on the fund's own admission the implementation of its policies will lead to an increase in Ukraine's public sector deficit in the short term, and the deficit "will decline only gradually thereafter". Preserving the private-sector banks seems to take precedence over the stated objective of improving government finances. The state will be expected to recapitalise the failed private banks using public resources.
It should be remembered that the actual beneficiaries of all such IMF bailouts are not the people of the country concerned but their creditors, the holders of government bonds and the large banks. The bondholders are set to be paid out in full despite their failed bets.
Operating within the "Washington consensus", IMF bailouts are a supranational form of loan-sharking. Their impact is familiar to hundreds of millions of people in developing countries, especially in Africa and in Latin America. They are also increasingly familiar to the populations of the European periphery whose living standards have been driven lower throughout the current economic crisis.
The prescription in what the fund calls special adjustment programmes is always the same: privatisations, lower government payrolls, lower government social spending and lower wages. The latter are always a particular point of principle, disregarding the fact that the world cannot become more competitive against itself. Lower wages do not in any event lead to greater competitiveness, otherwise Ukraine would already be one of the most competitive countries in the whole Eurasian land mass. But lower wages do boost profits, which benefits the new private owners of formerly state-controlled sectors.
The effect of the IMF intervention, then, acting as it does in the interest of western creditors rather than the Ukrainian people, will be only to further impoverish the population of Ukraine.
Source: The Guardian