Cover of MoneyWeek magazine issue no 430

Protect your assets

10 April 2009 / Issue 430

Five defensive stocks to buy now... PLUS:

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The new, cuddly IMF

The G20 meeting of world leaders spouted ludicrous amounts of spin, such as Gordon Brown’s rapturously received $1.1trn stimulus package, which turned out to be mainly double-counting and wishful thinking.

But the most ridiculous spin-doctoring of all came when an unnamed cabinet minister told The Daily Telegraph’s Andrew Porter that new borrowing facilities agreed by the G20 meant that going to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a loan was now nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, we should look at it as being “like going to a spa to recuperate”.

It could be a sketch straight out of Bremner, Bird and Fortune. As any country forced to endure the IMF’s prescriptions could tell you, it’s nothing like a spa. It’s more like an old-fashioned health farm, with a focus on fibre, purging and cold showers – with the odd random thrashing thrown in for good measure. But it seems that’s no longer the case. Lord Mandelson told Channel 4 that “we are de-stigmatising going to the IMF”.

We were happy enough with the IMF taking a tough line when it was the little countries who needed bailing out. So why the drastic change of tone now?

• Read the full editor’s letter here:
The new, cuddly IMF