To a cynic, the IMF is basically a conglomeration of US based multi-national corps, seeking to ease the way for what they see as the natural process of globalisation. Globalisation (as defined by esteemed Cambridge/LSE economist Chris 'Bungle' Sowden) is the global export of market capitalism. Others might prefer to define it as the global spread of western exploitation, and it is easy to see why. The goal of capitalism (on a practical level): to match supply and demand. One of it's fundamental assumptions: the self-interest of each individual agent is key in any economic exchange. So, no self-respecting economist could say that the IMF is collection of happy-go-lucky charitable types who want to help poor people in Western Samoa. What they would argue, is that the self-interest of the western countries seeking ever greater markets and hence economies of scale for their exports (as well as cheap imports), benefits the 'lucky' recipients of IMF help inadvertently. They might talk in terms of Adam Smith economics; the gist of which, is that free trade leads to an overall increase in the general welfare.
However, talking of welfare, I would be inclined to cite another (arguably more profound) social commentator: Ali G/Cohen. He wanted to know if the UK welfare state was so named because it was 'well fair.' We all know the answer to that. Similarly (at least, it seems similar to my present caffeine-fueled thought process) we know that the overall increase in welfare which results from globalisation is not distributed in a 'well fair' manner. In fact, inequality is a requisite of capitalism. So, what I am trying to demonstrate is that the IMF's globalisation mission makes it inevitable
that it will exploit poor countries if it benefits the world economy as a whole. The point is that the 'world economy' is concentrated overwhelmingly in the US and Europe, whilst the world's population is not.
I do not find the IMF's recommendations to Malawi surprising, but that makes them no more palatable. It is a question of ideology. If the general economic welfare is paramount, then the IMF acted properly. However, if like me you are a believer in a Lib Dem style corrected market economy in which no one is forced into destitution by market forces (a pipe dream, I know), then the IMF is an inherently exploitative force with no right to exist. Scrapping it would take us one step closer to that dream.
Have a look at this website for a concise look at the IMF's impact in the developing world:
http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/Globa ... tment.html