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IMF list of needy countries growing

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TEXT OF STORY

Bill Radke: The International Monetary Fund has been busy rescuing many countries from the credit crisis. So far, Ukraine and Iceland have received billions. Now Hungary is the first European Union country to get an IMF bailout. And as Megan Williams reports, it likely will not be the last.


Megan Williams: Hungarians had been borrowing abroad. Then the credit crisis hit, its currency dropped and now the loans are nearly impossible to pay back.

The IMF hopes $25 billion will help the country cope. Most of it comes from the monetary fund; the rest from the E.U. and World Bank. In exchange, Hungary will have to cut spending and depend less on foreign financing. The country's already talking wage freezes and reduced pensions.

One analyst told me, though, the bigger issue is all the other countries who'll soon be needing IMF help. In the last week alone, it's shelled out 15 percent of what it has. Other European countries, Pakistan, Argentina and Venezuela may also soon need help. So the billion dollar question is, will the IMF have enough?

I'm Megan Williams for Marketplace.

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It's ironic that just as the IMF completes a huge buyout of their economics staff because they had essentially nothing to do, the roof falls in on the world financial system. Looking ahead, there are going to be "program countries" all over the place and a lot less IMF expertise to handle the issues than ever before. Now lots of critics (e.g., Joe Stiglitz) think their expertise had negative value added in the first place, but, to paraphrase Rumsfeld, you don't necessarily go to war with the army you want. And somehow, the IMF staffers always end up golden: nice, rich buyouts, despite their dubious output--and look for at least some of them to get bribed to come back.

Probably not. But international perception of this issue is critical. The much larger issue is that China just hosted economic meetings and the nations' representatives will be visiting next month in New York. Interesting how we have not heard any advance announcements from this group ... as if what they intend to present just might have a bearing on the the Presendial election. How much do you think will be demanded that we deposit into the IMF? $500 billion? More? With provisions for quarterly review and assessment for additional contributions? I really hope I am wrong on this. We will know soon enough.

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