University of Rochester

EVENT: Book, Panel Discussion Focus on Role of International Monetary Fund

October 24, 2002

In a new book on the International Monetary Fund, political scientist Randall W. Stone has developed the first systematic approach to answering questions about how much influence the IMF exerts over domestic policies in countries that accept its aid.

Lending Credibility: The International Monetary Fund and the Post-Communist Transition combines case studies, statistical analysis, and a formal game theoretic model for its findings about nations in the former Soviet bloc. Stone, associate professor of political science at the University of Rochester, and two colleagues from the faculty of the College will comment on the contributions of Stone's research regarding the IMF at 4:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 1, in the Welles-Brown Room of Rush Rhees Library on the University's River Campus. The event is free and open to the public.

The panel will include Kathleen Parthé, professor of Russian and director of the Russian Studies Program, and G. Bingham Powell, Jr., the Wilson Professor of Political Science. Parthé is an expert on Russian national identity in the post-Soviet period and teaches courses on political, economic, and social issues, as well as Russian cultural history and European studies. Her forthcoming book from Yale University Press is titled Russia's Dangerous Texts: Politics Between the Lines.

Powell is a scholar of comparative political science whose most recent book, Elections as Instruments of Democracy: Majoritarian and Proportional Visions (Yale University Press, 2000), explores the role that elections play in connecting the preferences of citizens and the selection of policymakers in 20 democracies during the last 25 years.

Through his research, Stone has determined that the IMF, considered the most powerful international institution since the end of the Cold War, is neither as controlling as some critics fear, nor as weak as others believe. Its influence hinges on the question of how much credibility the IMF can muster from country to country. Stone asserts that the IMF has exerted startling influence over economic policy in smaller countries, such as Poland and Bulgaria. However, where U.S. foreign policy interests come more heavily into play, as in Russia, the IMF cannot credibly commit to enforcing the loans-for-policy contract. This erodes its ability to facilitate enduring market reforms.

Stone tests his model of lending credibility on original data from 26 countries during the 1990s. In Lending Credibility (Princeton University Press, $45 hardcover, 304 pages), Stone employs "an arsenal of methods from a range of social sciences rarely combined . . . (and) mounts a forceful challenge to conventional wisdom," according to the book's publisher.

Stone is the author of the 1995 book, Satellites and Commissars: Strategy and Conflict in the Politics of Soviet-Bloc Trade (Princeton). For that research, he used formerly secret documents from archives in Moscow, Warsaw, and Prague and interviews with former Communist officials across Eastern Europe to delve into how the Soviet Union employed trade subsidies with its satellites in Eastern Europe.

The panel discussion and a reception following the program are sponsored by the Skalny Center for Polish and Central European Studies, the Russian Studies Program, and the Department of Political Science. For more information, contact the Skalny Center at (585) 275-9898.