The IMF advertises itself as playing a catalytic role, whereby its lending
programmes induce other providers of finance to invest or lend as well. The
theoretical foundations of this claim are reviewed and found to be questionable.
The empirical evidence also appears to contradict the notion of a consistent and
significant catalytic effect. The policy implications of weak catalysis are reviewed
and alternative approaches to delivering a suitable adjustment process
investigated. While some of these alternatives seem worthy of further evaluation,
including greater official coordination and the use of alternative private and
official pools of capital, many are politically or operationally untenable.