It remains difficult to have a calm discussion about Greece. Just look at the reaction to the release on July 28 of the Independent Evaluation Office of the IMF’s review of the handling of the European debt crisis. Ambrose Evans-Pritchard of the Daily Telegraph called the IEO's conclusions a “lacerating verdict” on the IMF’s management of the “most damaging episode in the history of the Bretton Woods institutions.” Ian Talley of the Wall Street Journal saidthe watchdog’s report “gives credence to some of the fund’s harshest critics.” The Financial Times called the assessment “damning.”
But just as reporters were quick to judge, some of those responsible for IMF policy during those years became defensive. Among the critiques in the hundreds of pages released by the Independent Evaluation Office (IEO) was the fund’s poor economic forecasting. “So what? We were in the middle of a hurricane,” said John Lipsky, the No. 2 at the IMF at the onset of the eurozone debt crisis, told the Australian. Managing Director Christine Lagarde also sought cover behind the “unprecedented” nature of the calamity. “Overall, the conclusion I draw is that fund’s involvement in the euro area crisis programs has been a qualified success,” she said in a statement on the IEO report.
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