Cargo ships on fire off the shoulder of Africa

26 February 2024/No Comments
By Nick Dunbar

A new visualisation of IMF lending tracks geopolitical trends and allows the effectiveness of IMF support to be assessed.

When Hamas launched its attack from Gaza on Israel on 7 October, did it suspect that killing 1,200 mostly civilian Israelis would bring about a decimation of its own population in response? The consequences for Israel and Gaza’s neighbours were less obvious, but Egypt is now a case in point.

Having a war on its doorstep was bad enough, but then the Houthis of Yemen began launching missile attacks on Red Sea shipping out of solidarity with Hamas. That led to a 44% reduction in Suez Canal revenues, which before the crisis contributed 2% to Egypt’s GDP.

Enter the International Monetary Fund, which reportedly is in the process of finalising a $10 billion loan package to Egypt, in addition to $20 billion of existing debt. The IMF’s famous conditionality may be stretched for geopolitical reasons. What better time to look at the history of IMF lending, using a Risky Finance chart race visualisation?

Our chart race begins in 2000, when Russia was the largest IMF borrower in the wake of a 1998 default, and hopes were pinned on the country’s energetic new president, Vladimir Putin. Still licking their wounds from the 1997 crisis, the Asian tigers were all present – South Korea, Thailand and Indonesia.

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