The IMF Gets Paid -- For a Price

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WASHINGTON: The IMF is back in the lending business -- but it'll be a tougher business than it used to be. In exchange for their $18 billion check, Republican leaders have gotten what they wanted out of White House negotiators: putting the "moral hazard" -- in the form of at-market interest rates and shorter repayment schedules -- back in the global economy. "Republicans want countries that receive an IMF bailout to pay the price for getting into trouble -- it's meant to be a disciplinary force."

Ironically, it will now fall to the Clinton administration to lobby the IMF into playing ball -- so get ready for another round of bare-knuckle negotiations on the international stage. But for now, the money is what matters. "Other countries have been holding back their money until the U.S. kicked in with its share," says Baumohl. With those contributions, and if the Japanese come through with a planned $517 billion for their ailing banks, the world's lenders of last resort will be flush again in no time. Let's hope they don't spend it all in one place.