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.
Using a simple model of international lending, we show that as long as the IMF lends at an actuarially fair interest rate and debtor governments maximize the welfare of their taxpayers, any changes in policy effort, capital flows, or borrowing costs in response to IMF crisis lending are efficient. Thus, under these assumptions, the IMF cannot cause moral hazard, as argued by Michael Mussa (1999, 2004). It follows that examining the effects of IMF lending on capital flows or borrowing costs is not a useful strategy to test for IMF-induced moral hazard. Instead, empirical research on moral hazard should focus on the assumptions of the Mussa theorem.