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The rocky route to IMF favour

Ecuador's finance minister, Jorge Gallardo, is a popular man on Wall Street. He's very bright, with a quick wit and a solid grasp of economic fundamentals and economists' concerns. But when he visited New York in May, his demeanour was visibly subdued.

It is understandable that Gallardo could do with a bit of a rest these days: the Ecuadorean government has come through a huge battle with the legislature, which threatened the whole basis of its fiscal accounts. The war is not completely over, but the theatre of conflict has moved from congress to the courts, and the government's achievements so far have proved enough for a crucial vote of confidence in the country in May from the IMF.

Ecuador was originally scheduled to get the second disbursement from its IMF programme in September 2000. Everything in Ecuador takes longer than expected, and a few delays here and there are usually built in to projections, but this one lasted until well past the date that Ecuador's entire IMF programme was due to expire.

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