The IMF has just released its latest "Fiscal Monitor" report which, not surprisingly, is as usual full of pretty charts that alas amount to pretty much nothing. What was surprising is the increasingly more antagonistic tone the IMF has taken with regard to the developed economies. In what could be a first, the IMF is starting to get increasingly realistic, and in the report notes that of all budget deficits in "selected countries", the US will hit the highest at 10.8%, the same as Ireland, and just ahead of Japan at 10%. And a direct stab at the US: "The United States needs to accelerate the adoption of credible measures to reduce debt ratios....Market concerns about sustainability remain subdued in the United States, but a further delay of action could be fiscally costly, with deficit increases exacerbated by rising yields." Other observations by the IMF: deficits in the Middle East could widen as governments increase subsidies to ease social tensions; higher food, fuel prices are likely to slow the pace of spending in emerging markets; US fiscal adjustments in 2012 are needed to put fiscal consolidation back on track. Oddly enough, the IMF which yesterday decided to trim GDP estimates very modestly even as it activated its SDR500 billion New Arrangements to Borrow line of credit, is Cottarelli's statement that the US still has a "lot of credibility." For now the rating agencies still seem to buy this load of BS.
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