Nobel laureate economist Joseph E. Stiglitz argues that, as a public institution, the IMF should improve its own transparency by setting its development models and economic policies through democratic processes and open discourse rather than behind closed doors.


Does the IMF have something to hide and is used as a tool for powerful people to achieve their agenda? Why won't the IMF be transparent if it claims to serve the interest of all countries?

Since the person who just answered just quoted the IMF's PR department as proof that the IMF is transparent I decided to add a few more sources.


Like any organization, the IMF has a number of policies that guide how the institution operates. These IMF policies include everything from human resources and staff procedures to what kind of economic policies low-income countries should follow and how to operate a central bank. Despite the importance of these policies, as they govern the advice the IMF gives and the conditions they set on countries, they are not developed in a transparent way. The IMF Executive Directors’ meetings are closed to the public. The text of the papers and proposals going to the board are not published until after the board has made its decision. The ‘gray statements’ that board members make and circulate on a policy proposal before the board discussion are also unavailable. Finally, most IMF decisions are taken on the basis of ‘consensus’, a loosely defined concept at the Fund that leaves it to the chair of the board to assess if the proposal has enough support. Formal votes at the board are very rarely taken except on issues such as salary levels and the interest rates on loans. The records of votes, board minutes and gray statements are not publicly available until ten years after the board meeting.16

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    Have you got anything newer to back up the "Why won't the IMF be transparent"? Could it be argued that transparency has improved since that quote (which comes from about 2002).
    – James K
    Commented Jun 15, 2020 at 12:34

1 Answer 1


Financial institutions will tend to be only as transparent as they need to be to operate sustainably. If the degree of transparency we see at more conventional financial institutions is any greater, it is due to effective political pressure. There is no single government entity with the power to impose greater transparency on multilateral institutions such as the IMF. If the handful of major donor countries that hold real power in the IMF agree that greater transparency, they will make it happen. There may even be ways that the IMF has responded meaningfully to the complaints of low-income countries. As a matter of principle, shortcomings of transparency don't automatically imply nefarious purposes. Rather, they reflect the fact that different stakeholders necessarily have different ideas about what decision-making processes should be public.

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