The High Politics of IMF Lending

Analysts have long suspected that politics affects the lending patterns of the International Monetary Fund (imf), but none have adequately specified or systematically tested competing explanations. This paper develops a political explanation of imf lending and tests it statistically on the developing countries between 1985 and 1994. It finds that political realignment toward the United States, the largest power in the imf, increases a country's probability of receiving an imf loan. A country's static political alignment position has no significant impact during this period, suggesting that these processes are best modeled dynamically. An analysis of two subsamples rejects the hypothesis that the imf has become less politicized since the end of the cold war and suggests that the influence of politics has actually increased since 1990. The behavior of multilateral organizations is still driven by the political interests of their more powerful member states.