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The International Monetary Fund and the Global Spread of Privatization


Well over a trillion dollars worth of state-owned firms have been privatized by governments all around the world since 1980. Economists argue that privatization increases efficiency by placing decisions in the hands of markets rather than public officials. The IMF is sufficiently enamored of privatization that it has included for more than a decade stipulations about the sale of state-owned assets as condition for the receipt of its loans. The evidence that privatization directly increases efficiency, however, is not nearly so clear as most economists would have us believe.

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