IMF chief Lagarde heckled by students in Amsterdam

by Jerome Roos on May 7, 2013

Post image for IMF chief Lagarde heckled by students in Amsterdam

Dutch, Greek and Spanish members of the Occupy movement interrupt a lecture by IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde at the University of Amsterdam.

Christine Lagarde, the former French Finance Minister and current Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, was treated to an Occupy-style mic-check at the University of Amsterdam on Tuesday. During a lecture at the university’s economics department, a group of students rose up to interrupt (or rather start) the discussion, confronting the Fund’s chief with a number of inconvenient questions.

Attendees had been asked to send in questions before the “debate”, but the protesters were angry that their critical notes appeared to have been ignored. By standing up and submitting the IMF chief to a mic-check, they tried to get their concerns across anyway: “why is technocracy better than democracy?” one activist asked. Another asked Lagarde why the IMF submits developing countries to Western imperialism, to which the upper-class moderator tellingly responded that “we will not do that question”.

In a sign of the academic freedom at the University of Amsterdam, and civil liberties in the Netherlands more generally, the students — who reportedly included Dutch Occupy protesters, Spanish indignados and Greek activists associated with ReINFORM – were immediately escorted away by security and event organizers. Dutch daily NRC Handelsblad reports that some of the event organizers seemed to act like a “gang” in their willingness to use physical force while removing the activists.

And yet the peaceful way in the protesters allowed security to remove them from the lecture hall revealed that the only real threat they ever posed to the Managing Director was an intellectual one; a threat organizers were apparently not willing to expose their special guest to. This is not a surprise: the IMF has been at the heart of a major controversy for its management of European debt crisis from the very start.

In January, Olivier Blanchard, the Fund’s chief economist, co-authored a rare self-critical IMF working paper in which he confirmed that the Fund has so far been much too optimistic about the ability of Europe’s heavily indebted periphery to cut its way out of debt. According to Blanchard, the IMF’s growth models severely underestimated the “fiscal multipliers” of austerity, leading to major forecast errors.

Last month, former IMF chief economist Kenneth Rogoff and his deputy Carmen Reinhart were publicly humiliated when a 28-year-old graduate student from the University of Massachusetts showed that their highly influential 2010 paper — in which the Harvard economists claimed that a debt-to-GDP ratio of above 90 percent significantly slows down growth — was riddled with statistical errors. This “dethroning” of Reinhart-Rogoff was taken as another major rebuttal of the global austerity push.

Yet the protesters in Amsterdam today pointed us towards a much more important question than the somewhat arcane debate over whether or not austerity can induce growth. Ultimately, as the students rightly pointed out, this is a matter of democracy. Do ordinary citizens still get to decide over the type of policies that affect their lives? If the people of Greece, Portugal and Spain truly ruled their own destiny — as the myth of representative democracy would have us believe — would they really opt for a life of austerity, unemployment and shattered dreams?

It’s time the economics profession got over the false internecine debates between the austerians (representing the right-wing of capital) and the Keynesians (representing its left-wing); the real questions are political. How is it that a small clique of unelected transnational technocrats gets to decide on the policies that condemn millions to a life of misery? This is the real puzzle we should be addressing — and we clearly can’t count on the economists to do that for us.

The following video was kindly provided by the activists of the No Lagarde Platform:

And the following was a report on Greek national television:

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Truelitistnot May 7, 2013 at 19:44

Love the sign on the wall that reads, “room for discussion”; hypocrisy at its finest.

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mr.no one May 7, 2013 at 21:21

how they just dont linch her is beyond me

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kingfelix May 8, 2013 at 07:10

Why call it heckling?

to heckle – to interrupt (a public speaker) with derisive or aggressive comments or abuse.

It wasn’t heckling, by definition, it was an interruption, but it was to ask pertinent questions.

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GajaK May 8, 2013 at 10:27

One little thing to add that the media in the Netherlands don’t mention: madame Lagarde made us wait for her more than 30 mins because she wanted to see the Nightwatch in the newly opened Rijksmuseum…so the whole museum was closed so that madame Lagarde could enjoy Rembrandt.

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Black Cat May 8, 2013 at 23:49

Technocracy ?? Call it what it is ! A Zionist take-over of the World. When Greece ever gets back on its knees, these financial criminals will find new ways to plunder the lower classes.

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Jerome Roos May 8, 2013 at 23:56

Neo-Nazi alert.

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Black Cat May 9, 2013 at 00:20

The name Roos or Rose, Stone, Gold, Wolf etc. are all names that crypto-zionists like to use and who like calling everybody a nazi etc. if they see that people are catching-on to their degenerate parasitic behaviour. Just have a good look at the ‘faces’ of the owners and top managers of the mayor global financial institutions (IMF) … duh !! The Occupy movement has also been infiltrated > naming the criminals/banksters on Wall Street is a taboo on many Occupy web-sites ! Giving good honest people insight into the mind of these psychopaths will be discouraged. Peace !

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Jerome Roos May 9, 2013 at 00:26

I don’t call everyone a Nazi. Just people like you who blame the Jews for the evils of capitalism. Pretty straightforward.

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ALEA XANATEA May 9, 2013 at 03:47

what about the Roos part?

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Jerome Roos May 9, 2013 at 03:58

He obviously thinks I’m a Jew (Rosenbaum, Rosenberg, etc.), and hence a Zionist. Funny, been called many things for my anti-capitalist writings, but never a Zionist.

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Black Cat May 9, 2013 at 00:52

Not blaming ‘the Jews’ … Nothing wrong with being an anti-zionist. You are smart enough to know the difference ( seen your education etc. ) So you are just using the the old trusted tactics and simple ‘propaganda’ we are familiar with and that has been used by the zionists so well in the last decenia. ‘Occupying all the Bases’, being left, right, liberal, activist … whatever > just as long as ‘people like you’ are in total control of EVERYTHING und fog ze mind of ze masses. Good people are waking up , …. BOY !! Read Edward Burnays (zionist) and stuff > creepy ! Peace.

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Heinrich May 10, 2013 at 12:44

Haha ! An anti-zio-trol rattling the chain. Shouldn’t have cald him a nazi Jerome, not everyone has your insights and experience. Love your work / carry on strong.

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Michael Kenny May 12, 2013 at 16:31

The answer to Mr Roos’s question in the last paragraph is quite easy: the economic stranglehold which the US still has on the world economy. For the moment, the real decisions are taken by those who control the US and the rest of us have little choice but to make the best we can out of that. The solution to the problem is thus to break that stranglehold, which is slowly but surely happening, and, in the interim, try to protect ourselves as best we can from the worst effects of that situation. For us in Europe, the EU is the best protection we have at the moment and without it, we would be totally under the American jackboot.
As to whether the people of Greece, Portugal and Spain “would they really opt for a life [sic] of austerity, unemployment and shattered dreams”, the answer is that they all actually have done so and Ireland has even had a referendum in which the voters accepted the bailout package by quite a large majority. In all cases, people voted that way because they considered the alternatives even worse. Of course, it is only Mr Roos who envisages a “life” of austerity. The rest of us see austerity as an unavoidable, short-term, necessity which, indeed, is already achieving its purpose of beating off the American attack on our currency and can thus soon start to be eased up.

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