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The Political Economy of IMF Lending in Africa


Why has IMF lending achieved such poor results in Africa? Is it because the Fund imposes the wrong conditions, or because it fails to enforce them? Analysis of monthly data on 53 African countries from 1990 to 2000 shows that the IMF's loans-for-reform contract lacks credibility because donor countries intervene to prevent rigorous enforcement. Countries that have influence with developed-country patrons—as measured by U.S. foreign aid, membership in postcolonial international institutions, and voting profiles in the UN—are subject to less rigorous enforcement (shorter program suspensions). They have more frequent program suspensions, because they violate their conditions more often. The IMF will have to become more independent in order to become an effective champion of reform.

Corresponding author
Randall W. Stone is Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY 14627-0146 (
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American Political Science Review
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