Flash Points

Themed journeys through our archive.

Can the IMF Help the Global South?

As debt burdens worsen, all eyes are on the IMF.

A man's silhouette is seen in front of a light blue screen that reads INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND.
A man's silhouette is seen in front of a light blue screen that reads INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND.
International Monetary Fund Chief Economist Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas speaks at the IMF headquarters in Washington on July 26. Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

In late July, the International Monetary Fund updated its World Economic Outlook. The results were grim: High inflation has brought tighter financial conditions, only worsening the developing world’s debt burden as the global economy reels from the COVID-19 pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

In this edition of Flash Points, we explore the roots of the global south’s looming debt crisis, the heated debates surrounding the IMF’s role in economic recoveries around the world, and why Argentina’s agreement with the IMF this year could set a new—and better—precedent for tackling debt restructuring.—Chloe Hadavas

The Global South’s Looming Debt Crisis—and How to Stop It

Many poor countries face major economic disruption and possible default on their sovereign debt in 2022, Mark Malloch-Brown writes.

In late July, the International Monetary Fund updated its World Economic Outlook. The results were grim: High inflation has brought tighter financial conditions, only worsening the developing world’s debt burden as the global economy reels from the COVID-19 pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

In this edition of Flash Points, we explore the roots of the global south’s looming debt crisis, the heated debates surrounding the IMF’s role in economic recoveries around the world, and why Argentina’s agreement with the IMF this year could set a new—and better—precedent for tackling debt restructuring.—Chloe Hadavas


An activist dressed as Argentina’s Eva Perón holds a sign that reads "IMF Debt: Reform or Rebellion" in front of the IMF headquarters.
An activist dressed as Argentina’s Eva Perón holds a sign that reads "IMF Debt: Reform or Rebellion" in front of the IMF headquarters.

An activist dressed as Argentina’s Eva Perón takes part in a rally calling for debt reform during the virtual Spring Meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund outside the IMF headquarters in Washington on April 8, 2021.MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images

The Global South’s Looming Debt Crisis—and How to Stop It

Many poor countries face major economic disruption and possible default on their sovereign debt in 2022, Mark Malloch-Brown writes.


Opposition supporters march during a protest against inflation, political destabilization, and fuel price hikes in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, on July 2.
Opposition supporters march during a protest against inflation, political destabilization, and fuel price hikes in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, on July 2.

Opposition supporters march during a protest against inflation, political destabilization, and fuel price hikes in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, on July 2.FAROOQ NAEEM/AFP via Getty Images

Pakistan Is Drowning in Debt

Rising prices, food insecurity, and a growing debt burden make Islamabad’s other challenges all the more pressing, FP’s Lynne O’Donnell writes.


People take part in a protest against the government's motion to increase taxes in order to reach a credit agreement with the International Monetary Fund in San José, Costa Rica, on Sept. 30, 2020.
People take part in a protest against the government's motion to increase taxes in order to reach a credit agreement with the International Monetary Fund in San José, Costa Rica, on Sept. 30, 2020.

People take part in a protest against the government’s motion to increase taxes in order to reach a credit agreement with the International Monetary Fund in San José, Costa Rica, on Sept. 30, 2020.EZEQUIEL BECERRA/AFP via Getty Images

The International Monetary Fund: Holy Grail or Poisoned Chalice?

As the global south struggles to grapple with its debt pandemic, experts question the efficacy of the IMF’s conditional lending, FP’s Anusha Rathi writes.


Solar technicians from Alianza Ceibo/Amazon Frontlines help members
Solar technicians from Alianza Ceibo/Amazon Frontlines help members

Solar technicians from Alianza Ceibo/Amazon Frontlines help members of the A’i Kofan of Sinangoe’s community guard install solar panels at lookout stations. Nixon Andy Narvaez/A’i Kofan Community of Sinangoe

Ecuador’s Distant Dream of a Green Recovery

The debt-saddled country is struggling to meet its climate goals under IMF austerity, FP’s Catherine Osborn writes.


Members of leftist groups demonstrate against the International Monetary Fund on the eve of a 0 million installment due to repay Argentina’s debt in Buenos Aires on Jan. 27.
Members of leftist groups demonstrate against the International Monetary Fund on the eve of a 0 million installment due to repay Argentina’s debt in Buenos Aires on Jan. 27.

Members of leftist groups demonstrate against the International Monetary Fund on the eve of a $730 million installment due to repay Argentina’s debt in Buenos Aires on Jan. 27.ALEJANDRO PAGNI/AFP via Getty Images

Argentina and the IMF Turn Away From Austerity

A recent agreement may set a better precedent for dealing with debt levels around the world, Joseph E. Stiglitz and Mark Weisbrot write.

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