Wednesday, September 30, 2009

IMF comes to Istanbul

Istanbul is set to host the semiannual IMF and Worldbank meetings from October 4-7. Early preliminary meetings have begun to take place. Today the IMF presented its half-yearly Global Financial Stability Report, wherein it presented positive news about world economic recovery.

The meetings are being held Istanbul on Cumhurriyet Street between Taksim and Osmanbey, in the same complex as the Hilton hotel. Security can be seen all around downtown Istanbul.

Near Taksim, on Tarlabasi Street

Outside of the meetings

Even in Nisantasi, half a mile from the site, a public park was closed. Only bored policemen could be seen strolling within the confines they themselves had set up, sitting in benches across from busts of Ottoman rulers, and of course, Ataturk:

300 police are stationed around the area, but only about
100 people came out to demonstrate the meetings today. However, more are expected for the rest of the week and the weekend as the meetings continue. Five major labor unions rejected invitations from the IMF to attend.

The meetings come at a time when a possible IMF loan to Turkey looks like it may not take place. Ankara still has not signed on to the deal and last Saturday, Prime Minister Erdogan said that the IMF should not put any political conditions on a loan to Turkey. Others in the government have said that they don't need an IMF loan and that Turkey is performing well in the current global economic downturn. Economy minister Ali Babacan put forward a rather modest medium-term economic proposal on September 16th that intends to tackle public spending starting in 2011. The reasoning, Babacan said, was that a "premature exit from stimulus packages may risk the recovery." Many foreign observers view the proposal positively, although, it may have ultimately backfired as IMF chief Dominique Strauss Kahn said on September 20th that "there are no indications that Turkey's economy needs help for now. If in the future Turkey needs IMF help we will be happy to provide that."

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