Re: ECONOMICS: Globalization and corporate power

From: Charlie Stross (
Date: Fri Aug 24 2001 - 17:03:03 MDT

On Fri, Aug 24, 2001 at 11:06:54AM -0400, Mike Lorrey wrote:
> And as I said, the 19% rate is a disincentive to begin with. Giving a
> loan to a person who has just lost their job is, as I said earlier, a
> 'really really dumb idea'. If Jamaica decides to take out such loans, it
> is merely demonstrating its own stupidity.

Firstly, you're personalizing a nation of millions. Don't do that. For
all you know, the average guy on the streets of Kingston is just as
opposed to the taking out of such loans as you are. (Do I need to read
you the standard libertarian "the state is not the same as the sum of
its citizens" speech at this point?)

Secondly, there may well be circumstances which force current politicians
there to take out such loans, even against their better judgement. Such
as, say, the need to service interest payments on previous loans taken
out by previous governments. (In other words, it's elephants all the
way down -- at least, to the point where nobody now alive deserves to
be saddled with the blame for a bad decision.) Yes, taking these loans
is a dumb idea, in the absence of other conditions. For all we know,
there may well be conditions that make _not_ taking the loans an even
worse option in the short term.

Thirdly -- and this is the most important point -- conditions attached to
the loans are being used as instruments of state power. That is the
real bad problem here; the recipient of the loan isn't free to use it

If I hold a metaphorical gun to your head and say "here's ten thousand
dollars -- you must repay me at 19% interest within ten years or come
back for another loan to service the interest payments, and you're not
only allowed but required to spend this loan on heroin," you wouldn't
thank me, would you? Seems to me that this, in human terms, is pretty
much exactly what the IMF is doing.

-- Charlie

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