Published online by Cambridge University Press: 22 May 2009
Most debate about the efficacy of orthodox stabilization programs, such as those of the International Monetary Fund, has been fruitless. First, rarely are these programs fully implemented or sustained for long periods. Second, defenders and critics of the programs hold differing premises about the nature of capitalist economies. The debate is therefore not about the appropriate balance of supply-and demand-side measures but, rather, about what sort of supply- and demand-side measures will address the supply- and demand-side problems that each group perceives. The results of an orthodox stabilization program which incorporated demand- and supply-side elements and which was fully implemented and sustained by the New Zealand government from 1984 to 1990 reveal the limits to orthodox programs. New Zealand, a primary product exporter, suffers from a structural imbalance of payments and from an external debt burden equal in scale to that of the Latin American and other highly indebted less developed countries (LDCs), but it does not have the serious supplyside constraints on growth that critics claim typify underdeveloped economies. This makes New Zealand an appropriate test of the typical orthodox stabilization program. Despite the fact that its administrative capacity, political will, domestic support, and access to external resources were far in excess of those of the typical would-be LDC stabilizer, New Zealand achieved only a precarious macroeconomic and international payments stability. Moreover, as the case of New Zealand demonstrates, inflation control and financial liberalization policy components of orthodox plans have contradictory consequences for payments balance. This suggests that long-term stabilization, in New Zealand and elsewhere, cannot be achieved solely by internal reforms.
I thank Richard Bensel, John Echeverri-Gent, Stephan Haggard, Louis Pauly, Elizabeth Sanders, and two reviewers for comments and criticism. I am also indebted to a large number of people interviewed in New Zealand regarding stabilization and other issues. Earlier versions of this article were presented at the Center for Study of Social Change at the New School for Social Research and also at the 1989 annual meeting of the American Political Science Association. The research was supported in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities. The usual disclaimers apply.
1. Since most orthodox programs take place under the auspices of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), most of the literature evaluated in my article concerns the IMF. However, as I emphasize in the article, the IMF had no role in New Zealand's stabilization and adjustment program. On the subject of program success, even the IMF acknowledges that differing degrees of implementation make objective evaluations of program outcomes a problematic enterprise; see Khan, Mohsin, “The Macroeconomic Effects of Fund-Supported Adjustment Programs: An Empirical Assessment,” IMF Research Department working paper no. 88/113, Washington, D.C., 1988, p. 12Google Scholar. For the best summary of empirical studies through 1983, see Killick, Tony et al. , Quest for Economic Stabilization (London: Overseas Development Institute, 1984)Google Scholar, chaps. 2,3,4, and 7. For various case studies, see Killick, Tony et al. , The IMF and Stabilization: Developing Country Experiences (London: Overseas Development Institute, 1984)Google Scholar. For a sum-mary of contentious issues, see Cline, William, “Economic Stabilization in Developing Countries: Theory and Stylized Facts,” in Williamson, John, ed., IMF Conditionality (Washington, D.C.: Institute for International Economics, 1983), pp. 175–208Google Scholar. For summaries of more recent studies, especially on the question of income distribution and growth, see Pastor, Manuel, “The Effects of IMF Programs in the Third World: Debate and Evidence from Latin America,” World Development 15 (02 1987), pp. 249–62CrossRefGoogle Scholar; and Khan, “The Macroeconomic Effects of Fund-Supported Adjustment Programs.” For a discussion of implementation failure, see Haggard, Stephan, “Politics of Economic Adjustment: Lessons from the IMF's Extended Fund Facility,” in Kahler, Miles, ed., Politics of International Debt (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1985), pp. 157–86Google Scholar.
2. In a crucial case, all of the independent and intervening variables that a theory posits are both present and acting in the manner that the theory presumes. Dependent variables thus should behave as the theory posits; if they do not, the theory or its assumptions are questionable. See Eckstein, Harry, “Case Study and Theory in Political Science,” in Greenstein, F. I. and Polsby, N. W., eds., Handbook of Political Science, vol. 7 (Reading, Mass.: Addison-Wesley, 1975), pp. 79–137Google Scholar.
3. Obviously, not all critics and defenders hold all of the assumptions that characterize the contrary models drawn here. Contrary to the usual view, however, here I do not argue that a range of opinion tends to run along a continuum stretching between the critics and defenders.
4. See Killick et al., Quest for Economic Stabilization.
5. For typical views offered by the defenders of orthodoxy, see Khan, Mohsin and Knight, Malcolm, Fund-Supported Adjustment Programs and Economic Growth (Washington, D.C.: IMF, 1985)Google Scholar; de Vries, Margaret Garritsen, Balance of Payments Adjustment, 1945–1986 (Washington, D.C.: IMF, 1987)Google Scholar; Research Department of the IMF, Theoretical Aspects of the Design of Fund-Supported Adjustment Programs (Washington, D.C.: IMF, 1987)Google Scholar; Williamson, John, The Lending Policies of the International Monetary Fund (Washington, D.C.: Institute for International Economics, 1982)Google Scholar; and, of course, various essays in the IMF's annual World Development Outlook and IMF Staff Papers. For interactive debates, see Cline, William and Weintraub, Sidney, eds., Economic Stabilization in Developing Countries (Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution, 1981)Google Scholar; and Williamson, IMF Conditionality. For the best intellectual history of “monoeconomics,” see Hirschman, Albert, Essays in Trespassing: Politics to Economics and Beyond (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981)Google Scholar.
6. An imbalance of payments is chosen as the indicator because this is the generic institutional concern of the IMF, which is involved in most efforts to implement an orthodox program.
7. See The Lending Policies of the International Monetary Fund, in which Williamson offers a disinterested view arguing for eclecticism in IMF programs.
8. Khan, and Knight, , Fund-Supported Adjustment Programs and Economic Growth, p. 4Google Scholar. Or, as Robert Campos quipped, “A monetarist is a structuralist in a hurry.” Quoted in Foxley, Alejandro, “Stabilization Policies and Their Effects on Employment and Income Distribution: A Latin American Perspective,” in , Cline and , Weintraub, Economic Stabilization in Developing Countries, p. 194Google Scholar.
9. See, for example, Frenkel, Michael and Klein, Martin, “Balance of Payments Crises and the Structure of Adjustment Policies,” IMF Research Department working paper no. 89/37, Washington, D.C., 1989, p. iiiGoogle Scholar.
10. IMF staffers habitually state that their policies are good medicine for developed as well as developing countries. See Khan and Knight, Fund-Supported Adjustment Programs and Economic Growth. As Cohen indicates, the seeming uniformity of stabilization programs is a function of the IMF's origins in the Bretton Woods system, which adopted the notion of sovereign equality. Logically, at least from a juridical point of view, the IMF ought not apply different standards to “developed” and “developing” nations. Nevertheless, as Killick points out, 108 of 114 new standby agreements negotiated by the IMF from fiscal year 1976–1977 through 1981–1982 were with developing countries. See Cohen, Benjamin, “Balance of Payments Financing: Evolution of a Regime,” in Krasner, Stephen, ed., International Regimes (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1983), pp. 315–36Google Scholar; and Killick, , Quest for Economic Stabilization, p. 3Google Scholar.
11. For recent expositions, see Khan and Knight, Fund-Supported Adjustment Programs and Economic Growth; and Research Department of the IMF, Theoretical Aspects of the Design of Fund-Supported Adjustment Programs. For criticism, see Carlos Diaz-Alejandro, “Southern Cone Stabilization Plans,” in Cline and Weintraub, Economic Stabilization in Developing Countries; Killick et al., The IMF and Stabilization; and Killick, et al. , Quest for Economic Stabilization. Note that on p. 39Google Scholar of Quest, the authors conclude that wage inflation was not a major cause of inflation in most LDCs.
12. For a typical range of analyses based on these images of the periphery, see Frenkel, Roberto and O'Donnell, Guillermo, “The ‘Stabilization Programs’ of the IMF and Their Internal Impacts,” in Fagen, R., ed., Capitalism and the State in US-Latin American Relations (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1979), pp. 171–216Google Scholar; Diamond, Marcelo and Naszewski, Daniel, “Argentina's Foreign Debt: Origin and Consequences,” in Wionczek, Miguel, ed., Foreign Debt of Developing Nations (Boulder, Colo.: Westview, 1985), pp. 231–76Google Scholar; and Dell, Sidney and Lawrence, Roger, The Balance of Payments Adjustment Process in Developing Countries (New York: Pergamon, 1980)Google Scholar. A balanced comparative empirical study sympathetic to the critical viewpoint can be found in Foxley's, AlejandroLatin American Experiments in Neoconservalive Economics (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983)Google Scholar.
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14. See Prebisch, The Economic Development of Latin America and Its Principal Problems; and Amin, Accumulation on a World Scale.
15. If a peripheral country's agricultural and manufacturing sectors were both internationally uncompetitive, the country would be forced out of world trade, and the nature of the problem would change from one with which the IMF was concerned into one with which various charitable agencies were concerned, at least in principle.
16. See Gerschenkron, Alexander, Economic Backwardness in Historical Perspective (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1962)Google Scholar; Senghaas, Dieter, The European Experience (Dover: Berg Press, 1984)Google Scholar; and Hirschman, Albert, “Political Economy of Import Substituting Industrialization in Latin America,” Quarterly Journal of Economics 82 (02 1968), pp. 1–31CrossRefGoogle Scholar. See also Prebisch, The Economic Development of Latin America and Its Principal Problems.
17. In Quest for Economic Stabilization, pp. 50–53 and 274–75, Killick agrees that the mild inflation which occurs when output is pushed to its limits has benefits that exceed the costs imposed by that inflation. This is why he cautions against overkill. This view also has some neoclassical adherents; see, for example, Lewis, W. Arthur, “Economic Development with Unlimited Supplies of Labour,” Manchester School Journal 22 (05 1954), pp. 134–91Google Scholar.
18. See Killick, et al. , Quest for Economic Stabilization, p. 41Google Scholar. Note, however, that Killick does not think that domestic wage rigidities account for inflation in developing economies. This view is consistent with the structuralist arguments about labor oversupply. Regarding this point, see Killick, et al. , The IMF and Stabilization, p. 7Google Scholar.
19. In the limited number of cases in which a country's edible agricultural goods are dietary staples (as with beef in Argentina, for example), increased external demand leads directly to increased domestic prices. This is because the export sector has completely eliminated “traditional” or subsistence agriculture as a source of the alternative edible goods. The land constraint in these cases is absolute, not political. For an extended analysis, see Frenkel and O'Donnell, “The ‘Stabilization Programs’ of the IMF and Their Internal Impacts.”
20. Some neostructuralists carry this point farther, arguing that by driving up the costs of working capital, sharp rises in interest costs raise prices and aggravate inflation. See Foxley, , “Stabilization Policies and Their Effects on Employment and Income Distribution,” pp. 210–13Google Scholar. An interesting article by ex-World Bank staffers Riccardo Faini and Melo, Jaime de, “Adjustment, Investment and the Real Exchange Rate in Developing Countries,” Economic Policy 11 (10 1990), pp. 491–519Google Scholar, generates statistical data supporting some of these structuralist propositions.
21. See Cline, “Economic Stabilization in Developing Countries.”
22. See Diaz-Alejandro, “Southern Cone Stabilization Plans.”
23. See, for example, Williamson, John, “On Judging the Success of IMF Policy Advice,” in Williamson, , IMF Conditionality, pp. 129–43Google Scholar; and Dell, Sidney, “Stabilization: The Political Economy of Overkill,” World Development 10 (08 1982), pp. 597–612CrossRefGoogle Scholar. “Overkill” is actually Diaz-Alejandro's term, as discussed in “Southern Cone Stabilization Plans.”
24. The usual exception for investments with a social rate of return in excess of a privately appropriable rate of return applies here, of course.
25. For an intellectual history of the debates as they relate to the new IMF facilities, see Kahler, Miles, “Orthodoxy and Its Alternatives,” in Nelson, Joan M., ed., Economic Crisis and Policy Choice: The Politics of Adjustment in Developing Countries (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1989), pp. 33–61Google Scholar. Most instructive in this regard are the following works defending the IMF's position during the 1980s: Research Department of the IMF, Theoretical Aspects of the Design of Fund-Supported Adjustment Programs; Khan and Knight, Fund-Supported Adjustment Programs and Economic Growth; and Corbo, Vittorio, Goldstein, Morris, and Khan, Mohsin, eds., Growth-Oriented Adjustment Programs (Washington, D.C.: IMF and World Bank, 1987)Google Scholar.
26. See Haggard, Stephan, “Politics of Economic Adjustment”; and Landell-Mills, Joslin, Helping the Poor: The IMF's New Facilities for Structural Adjustment (Washington, D.C.: IMF, 1988)Google Scholar.
28. See Killick, et al. , Quest for Economic Stabilization, pp. 48–53 and 290Google Scholar. Because my article uses New Zealand as a test of the arguments advanced by the defenders, the relevant question to be addressed about the politics of stabilization is not whether stabilization produces a particular political outcome (namely, authoritarianism, as some critics have argued) but, rather, whether there are political preconditions for successful stabilization (and, in particular, whether authoritarianism is one of them). For examples of the defenders’ arguments, see Nelson, Joan M., “Politics of Stabilization,” in Feinberg, Richard E. and Kallab, Valleriana, eds., Adjustment Crisis in the Third World (New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction Books, 1984)Google Scholar; and Edwards, Sebastian, “Monetarism in Chile, 1973–1983: Some Economic Puzzles,” Economic Development and Change 34 (04 1986), pp. 535–59CrossRefGoogle Scholar. For examples of the critics' arguments, see Payer, Cheryl, Debt Trap (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1974)Google Scholar; Stallings, Barbara, “Peru and the US Banks: Privatization of Financial Relations,” in Fagen, , Capitalism and the State in US-Latin American Relations, pp. 217–53Google Scholar; Frenkel and O'Donnell, “The ‘Stabilization Programs’ of the IMF and Their Internal Impacts”; and Skidmore, Thomas, “The Politics of Stabilization in Post-War Latin America,” in Malloy, James, ed., Authoritarianism and Corporatism in Latin America (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1977), pp. 149–90Google Scholar. For a view bridging both camps, see Kaufman, Robert, “Democratic and Authoritarian Responses to the Debt Issue: Argentina, Brazil, Mexico,” in Kahler, , Politics of International Debt, pp. 167–217Google Scholar.
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30. Haggard, , “Politics of Economic Adjustment,” p. 171Google Scholar. Remmer agrees that in Latin America, at least, authoritarian rulers have proven less adept at stabilization. She suggests that “the type of political coalition emerging after regime breakdown and the related willingness and capacity of new authorities to implement orthodox stabilization policies are conditioned by the perceived successes and failures of their predecessors.” See Remmer, , “The Politics of Economic Stabilization,” p. 19Google Scholar.
31. See Nelson, Joan, ed., Fragile Coalitions: The Politics of Economic Stabilization (Washington, D.C.: Overseas Development Council, 1989)Google Scholar; and Nelson, Economic Crisis and Policy Choice .
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35. Economic Monitoring Group, Foreign Exchange Constraints, Export Growth and Over-seas Debt (Wellington: Government Printing Office, 1983), pp. 1–2 and 18–20Google Scholar.
36. Ibid., pp. 18–20. In 1984, New Zealand supplied 53.4 percent of world mutton exports (SITC 0112), 14.7 percent of boneless beef exports (SITC 01112), and 17 percent and 43 percent of greasy and degreased wool exports, respectively (SITC 2681 and 2682). In dairy products trade. New Zealand's share of total exports is much smaller; however, because so much of this trade is price-regulated trade within the EC, New Zealand's effective weight on the open international market is much greater than its share would suggest. New Zealand supplied 6.3 percent of milk and cream exports (SITC 022), where intra-EC trade accounted for 76.3 percent of all trade in this commodity; 13.1 percent of butter exports (SITC 023), where intra-EC trade accounted for 78 percent of exports; and 3.6 percent of cheese exports (SITC 024), where intraEC trade accounted for 77.8 percent of exports. New Zealand's share of residual (extra-EC) world trade in these dairy commodities thus was approximately 27, 60, and 16 percent, respectively. See United Nations, International Trade Statistics Yearbook, 1983, vol. 2 (New York: United Nations, 1985)Google Scholar.
37. See Wooding, Paul, “Liberalising the International Trade Regime,” in Bollard, Alan and Buckle, Robert, eds., Economic Liberalisation in New Zealand (Wellington: Allen & Unwin, 1987), pp. 89–97Google Scholar.
38. “Effective protection” is the share of value added contributed by either subsidy or protection.
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42. Significantly, though, the interest rate spread on New Zealand securities did not fully reflect this credit downgrading. The spread on New Zealand's Aa3-rated (Moody's) bonds was barely larger than that on Sweden's Aaa-rated bonds. Reserve Bank Bulletin 52 (06 1989), p. 120Google Scholar.
43. The secret report was leaked to the New Zealand Herald just prior to the 1984 election. The OECD's Economic Survey: New Zealand, 1986–1987 and Economic Survey: New Zealand, 1988–1989 (Paris: OECD, 1987 and 1989)Google Scholar were also retrospectively critical.
44. Data from published sources and from my interviews with officials in New Zealand in July 1988 suggest that the IMF had only minimal influence on New Zealand's austerity program. While the bureaucrats in New Zealand's Treasury and Reserve Bank who worked with the Labour party in developing the program were familiar with the policies of both the IMF and the World Bank, neither of these organizations had a direct hand in the specifics of New Zealand's stabilization program, nor has New Zealand been under any formal conditionality. See Economic Monitoring Group, Foreign Exchange Constraints, Export Growth and Overseas Debt, p. 32Google Scholar; Jesson, Bruce, Behind the Mirror Glass (Auckland: Penguin, 1987), pp. 116–34Google Scholar; Boston, Jonathan and Holland, Martin, eds., The Fourth Labour Government: Radical Politics in New Zealand (Auckland: Oxford University Press, 1987)Google Scholar; and Douglas, Roger and Callen, Louise, Towards Prosperity (Auckland: David Bateman, 1987), pp. 48–50 and 205–9Google Scholar.
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65. Interviews with New Zealand officials, July 1988.
67. This, as local New Zealand observers noted, strongly paralleled events in Chile and lent an ironic twist to repeated government warnings that New Zealand would turn into a “banana republic” in the absence of drastic measures.
68. The possible exceptions might be Argentina and Uruguay at the end of the 1970s, when a similar neo-orthodox stabilization program caused wealth effects which in combination with overvalued exchange rates led to a destabilization of import levels.
70. For calculations regarding this problem, see Williamson, , The Lending Policies of the International Monetary Fund, p. 60Google Scholar.
71. See Reserve Bank of New Zealand, Monthly Abstract of Statistics (Wellington: Government Printing Office, 05 1988), p. 133Google Scholar; and Minister of Finance, Securing Economic Recovery, pp. 24–27Google Scholar. GDP is predicted to rise 1.5 percent in fiscal year 1989–1990 and 2.8 percent 1990–1991.
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75. For a penetrating analysis of historical parallels supporting this view, see Felix, David, “Alternative Outcomes of the Latin American Debt Crisis: Lessons from the Past,” Latin American Research Review, vol. 23, 1988, pp. 3–46Google Scholar.
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