MILAN, April 17 The International Monetary Fund
hopes to gain governments' agreement this week to raise its
funds by more than $400 billion, around two thirds of the amount
it said it would need three months ago, fund managing director
Christine Lagarde signalled on Tuesday.
Lagarde, who had already signalled the fund would need less
than previously thought, said the success of some countries in
raising funds on financial markets in the first quarter had
eased the pressure on its crisis-fighting resources.
In an interview in Tuesday's Il Sole 24 Ore, she praised
reform efforts by Italy's government and said market confidence
had improved since Rome agreed to enhanced surveillance by the
IMF. She also saw progress in Spain.
"I really hope this week we'll reach the critical mass of
more than $400 billion. We are determined to do all we can," she
was quoted as telling Italy's main financial newspaper, though
she also said finally sealing the funds might take a bit longer.
Finance chiefs meet in Washington on April 20-21.
"I am ready to leave the matter open for a few weeks: some
countries need a little bit more time for parliamentary
approval," she added.
In January, the IMF estimated it would need $600 billion in
new resources. Officials from the Group of 20 nations told
Reuters last week the world's major economies were likely to
agree to provide the IMF with somewhere between $400 billion and
In the interview, Lagarde said credit crunch risks had
"The overall risk evaluation is unchanged, but it's April
now and some countries have already raised on the markets more
than half of what they need for 2012, so our estimate has
"In some countries, for small and medium enterprises, for
households, credit may be more costly and difficult, but it is
not as serious a threat as we feared in December."
Lagarde said the IMF would keep pressing for the euro zone's
rescue funds to be allowed to lend directly to banks, in order
to address the link between lenders and sovereign risk.
"I put the idea forward in July, it was not accepted. We
After a Lagarde said Spain must continue on its reform path
after improvements achieved so far and praised Italy's "enormous
chapter of changes, with more to come."
She said budget consolidation measures Rome had announced so
far were sufficient. But parliament had to make sure the final
version of a labour market reform now being discussed would
tackle the dualism between protected and unprotected workers and
remove uncertainties on lay-offs.
"We fully agree with what the government is doing," she
said, adding the IMF respected Italy's "political" choice of
relying more on revenues than spending cuts in its budget