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Raghuram Rajan: The oxygen of competition

Raghuram Rajan, the new IMF chief economist, talks to Euromoney's Julian Evans about controlling special interests, IMF reform, and the difficulties of instituting market democracy in Iraq.

Raghuram Rajan, the new chief
economist of the IMF

RAGHURAM RAJAN WAS in some ways a bold choice as the replacement for Ken Rogoff as the IMF's chief economist. A 40-year-old Indian-born professor at the University of Chicago, he is perhaps best known for the book Saving Capitalism from the Capitalists, published this year.

The book, which Rajan wrote with fellow Chicago professor Luigi Zingales, is about how businessmen try to rig the markets in their favour, through political contacts and the capture of government regulation.

This is more or less what Joseph Stiglitz, former chief economist at the World Bank, said had happened to the IMF in his book Globalization and its Discontents. Stiglitz's accusation that the IMF was in the pocket of Wall Street banks led to a public bust-up between him and Rajan's predecessor.

Rajan does not come across as a rebel in the Stiglitz mould. In fact, he's an Adam Smith-style free marketer through and through. But he has strong views on Iraq.

For those who haven't read your book, is it fair to say that it's about the dangers of big business capturing markets and government regulation? Not just business interests - it's about the power of any special interests to capture regulation.

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