The IMF Working Papers series is designed to make IMF staff research available to a wide audience. Almost 300 Working Papers are released each year, covering a wide range of theoretical and analytical topics, including balance of payments, monetary and fiscal issues, global liquidity, and national and international economic developments.
In principle, international financial institutions (IFIs) can use their leverage as creditors to prompt governments to undertake policy reform. Yet such lending has been frequently linked to unsustainable debt levels and little reform. This paper illustrates how the dual roles of IFIs as purveyors of credit and monitors of reform may help explain these negative outcomes. When debt levels rise, the IFIs reforms goals may become subordinated to its creditor's interest, compromising the enforcement of conditionality. Attracted by this prospect, malevolent governments strategically reform, enhancing their reputation in order to maintain lending and build their debt stock. Once debt levels are sufficiently large, such governments can stop policy reforms, assured that lending will continue.