The Multinational Monitor

November 2000 - VOLUME 21 - NUMBER 11

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The November 2000 Lawrence Summers Memorial Award* goes to Treasury Secretary Summersą former close ally, Michel Camdessus, the retired managing director of the International Monetary Fund, in commemoration of the following remark:

"You cannot denounce structural adjustment and be ... against the structures of sin."

Camdessus made this comment in an interview with Foreign Policy magazine.

Asked how he reconciled his own views with a Mexican Jesuit denunciation of structural adjustment, Camdessus replied:

The way in which you put that shows the extraordinary confusion of concepts behind this denunciation. You put in the same bag globalization, neoliberalism and structural adjustment as if they were from the same origin. But we must be very careful with this sort of mixture. Structural adjustment is adaptation to a new world. You cannot denounce structural adjustment and be ‹ as the Christians are ‹ against the structures of sin, to take the words of the Holy Father. If you are against the structures of sin that plague our world ‹ corruption, nepotism, collusion, protectionism, rigidities of that kind ‹ you must go for structural adjustment. If you want to fight poverty, you must go for structural adjustment, like it or not.

Source: "Interview with Michel Camdessus," Foreign Policy, September/October 2000. Thanks to Neil Watkins to spotting this excerpt.

*In a 1991 internal memorandum, then-World Bank economist and current Secretary of Treasury Lawrence Summers argued for the transfer of waste and dirty industries from industrialized to developing countries. "Just between you and me, shouldn't the World Bank be encouraging more migration of the dirty industries to the LDCs (lesser developed countries)?" Summers wrote. "I think the economic logic behind dumping a load of toxic waste in the lowest wage country is impeccable and we should face up to that. ... I've always thought that underpopulated countries in Africa are vastly under polluted; their air quality is vastly inefficiently low [sic] compared to Los Angeles or Mexico City." Summers later said the memo was meant to be ironic.