[Marxism] it's official: the IMF causes TB

Auguste Blanqui blanquist at gmail.com
Tue Jul 22 13:49:51 MDT 2008


I just finished the PLoS article.  It is probably on to something, but
it's wrong to view this as statistical "confirmation" rather than an
indicator requiring further (and deeper) research.  The authors use a
very simple regression model that basically correlates negative
outcomes (in this case TB incidence) with whether or not there was an
IMF presence.  The strong correlation invites further analysis as to
the nature of the link and what exactly about the IMF programs in
specific locales may have contributed to them.  But that requires more
than plug-crank aggregate statistical analyses, useful as they are for
identifying very general patterns.

I'm always annoyed when leftists cite statistical studies that offer
politically agreeable theses but decry regression analysis when the
results aren't politically inconvenient.  It's a simplistic and very
limited method, period, and a starting point at best.

On Tue, Jul 22, 2008 at 12:41 PM, Andrew Pollack <acpollack2 at gmail.com> wrote:
> Of course worker and socialist organizations were saying this while it was
> happening, but it's good to have statistical confirmation.
> By the way, next time that pig Jeffrey Sachs talks about his great plans to
> end world poverty, someone should ask him if he's apologized yet for being a
> key agent in the events described below.
> http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/22/health/research/22tb.html?ref=health
>  [image: The New York Times] <http://www.nytimes.com/>   [image: Printer
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>
> ------------------------------
> July 22, 2008
>  Rise in TB Is Linked to Loans From I.M.F. By NICHOLAS BAKALAR
>
> The rapid rise in tuberculosis cases in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet
> Union is strongly associated with the receipt of loans from the International
> Monetary Fund<http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/i/international_monetary_fund/index.html?inline=nyt-org>,
> a new study has found.
>
> Critics of the fund have suggested that its financial requirements lead
> governments to reduce spending on health care to qualify for loans. This,
> the authors say, helps explain the connection.
>
> The fund strongly disputes the finding, saying the former communist
> countries would be much worse off without the loans.
>
> "Tuberculosis is a disease that takes time to develop," said William Murray,
> a spokesman for the fund, "so presumably the increase in mortality rates
> must be linked to something that happened earlier than I.M.F. funding. This
> is just phony science."
>
> The researchers studied health records in 21 countries and found that
> obtaining an I.M.F. loan was associated with a 13.9 percent increase in new
> cases of tuberculosis each year, a 13.3 percent increase in the number of
> people living with the disease and a 16.6 percent increase in the number of
> tuberculosis deaths.
>
> The study<http://medicine.plosjournals.org/perlserv/?request=get-document&doi=10.1371/journal.pmed.0050143&ct=1>,
> being published online Tuesday in the journal PLoS Medicine, statistically
> controlled for numerous other factors that affect tuberculosis rates,
> including the prevalence of
> AIDS<http://health.nytimes.com/health/guides/disease/aids/overview.html?inline=nyt-classifier>,
> inflation rates, urbanization, unemployment rates, the age of the population
> and improved surveillance.
>
> The lead author, David Stuckler, a research associate at Cambridge
> University<http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/c/cambridge_university/index.html?inline=nyt-org>,
> defended the study against the fund's criticisms, noting that the
> researchers considered whether increased mortality might have led to more
> loans rather than the other way around.
>
> Instead, they found that the increase in tuberculosis mortality followed the
> lending; each 1 percent increase in credit was associated with a 0.9 percent
> increase in mortality. And when a country left an I.M.F. loan program,
> mortality rates dropped by an average of 31 percent.
>
> "When you have one correlation, you raise an eyebrow," Mr. Stuckler said.
> "But when you have more than 20 correlations pointing in the same direction,
> you start building a strong case for causality."
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