IMF Bailout Questioned

A coalition of liberals and conservatives - similar to the one that helped defeat the "fast track" bill (see page 56) - have joined forces to oppose a US contribution of $17.5 billion to the International Monetary Fund's Asian bailout fund.

Groups as diverse as Ralph Nader's Public Citizen and the libertarian Cato Institute held a forum in Washington, DC, on January 15 to object to the bailout.

"The banks  ... figured they'd be bailed out," said William Beach of the conservative Heritage Foundation. "They're right. That's a powerful political theme."

Indeed, Federal Reserve Bank figures indicate six key US banks are heavily exposed in Asia - to the tune of $19.2 billion.

"That's what free enterprise is about," said socialist Congressman Bernie Sanders. "Sometimes you win, and sometimes you lose."

Sanders added that a 1994 amendment requires the US to veto IMF loans unless the recipient nations guarantee worker rights. Indonesia, for example, has imprisoned labor activists.