Field Notes: Observing the International Bureaucrat

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Field Notes

Vincent Reinhart

Vincent Reinhart - Chief Economist & Macro Strategist

Evolution has made international bureaucrats more skittish over time, as practiced as they have become in avoiding the opprobrium after crisis. They have had many crises to manage, or was it that they managed to have many crises? Part of their natural response has been to change their plumage, showing the colors of concern for equality and inclusion, as well as sustainability.

Twice a year, however, they are seen in their natural habitat, when sufficient numbers roost in one place to show their real behaviors. This opportunity comes as policy makers and their attendants flock to Washington, DC, for the 2018 Spring Meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. To put matters into perspective, this is a venue where catching a glimpse of US Treasury Secretary Mnuchin ranks a star in anyone’s birding journal.

What is it like when they are all together? Imagine a colony of seagulls, and one starts cawing. Relatively soon, they all caw the same note. In the current context, officials concerned about economics go to rounds of similar meetings in different capacities, read the same talking points, hear their colleagues not vary from their scripts, and convince themselves that repetition proves the story true.

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