IMF chief warns against unilateral financial action

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, head of the International Monetary Fund, said Thursday that all non-coordinated action in the European Union aimed at tackling the financial crisis "should be avoided, if not condemned."


The head of the International Monetary Fund, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, said Thursday that European Union countries should work together and avoid unilateral steps to fight a global financial crisis.

"Cooperation and coordination in actions is the price of success. All kinds of cooperation have to be recommended," Strauss-Kahn said at a news conference ahead of the annual meetings this weekend of the IMF and World Bank.

Unilateral action "has to be avoided, if not condemned," he said.

"I urge European countries to work together. There's no domestic solution in a crisis like this one," said the French IMF managing director, who took the helm of the 185-nation institution a year ago.

"I know, having myself served as a financial minister of my country, how difficult it is in the European Union to make consensus and to make decisions. I don't underestimate the problems," he added.

Strauss-Kahn, who served as a Socialist finance minister from 1997 to 1999, did not cite any particular measure or country, but he stressed that action need not be one-size-fits-all.

Coordination "doesn't mean taking the same action in every country," he said.

"You may cooperate and find out what you're going to do, discuss with your partners and the different members of the financial community, and then act differently because the situations are different," he said in response to a question about how he envisioned such cooperation.

Strauss-Kahn criticized behind-the-scenes cooperation.

"What we have to avoid is a decision made by some country without keeping the other countries aware of what they're going to do or listening to the spillover effect from one country to another country. That's one part of the cooperation which has to be improved," he said.

Policymakers need to draw lessons from current circumstances to determine what kind of policies should be developed and what kind of institutions should be rebuilt.

"And for this kind of cooperation my point is that it cannot be done, even if it's initiated by a group of countries, which are the most advanced or the biggest economies in the world, the G7 or the G8, without being carried on by all the countries," Strauss-Kahn said.

"The feeling of all our membership is important if we want the implementation of a new framework in the financial sector all over the world."

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