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Mic Check!' Protesters Crash IMF Chief's Speech, Berate Speaker With Message of 'Equality


Bonus Irony Alert: IMF Chief criticizes U.S. budget policies

IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde. (Getty Images).

A panel featuring International Monetary Fund head Christine Lagarde was disrupted Tuesday after protesters stormed the conference room to “mic check” her with chants of “equality.”

“Lagarde had just begun speaking to students at the University of Amsterdam when the protestors began an organized, chanting disruption,” the Associated Press reports. “One would call out ‘mic check!’ and dozens more would yell back ‘Madame Lagarde!’”

The protesters accused her of believing that "technocracy [is] better than democracy" and blasted her for saying that Greeks should "help themselves...by paying all their tax."

The protest was eventually broken up after security guards dragged students out of the room and the interview resumed as scheduled:

Lagarde later criticized U.S. budget policies as being “too tight.” No, really, the IMF Chief has something to say about U.S. budget policies.

This headline is from February 2013.

“Lagarde said the U.S. government's debt reduction plans are too abrupt, including the $85 billion in federal budget cuts known as the sequester,” the AP reports. “She said the current policies, if maintained, could lead to a contraction of 1.5 percent in the U.S. economy.”

The U.S. "should consolidate less in the short term, but give...economic actors the certainty that there will be fiscal consolidation going forward," she said.

Lagarde stood by the financial reforms the IMF recommended be carried out in Greece, but also said they had “caused a greater economic decline than expected.”

"What we underestimated is the consequences, that's clear," she said.

Lagarde has recently joined in criticizing Germany for insisting that member states get their budget deficits under three percent.

She continued, saying the IMF doesn't believe "that austerity and growth are mutually exclusive," adding that the group doesn't believe austerity is the only way to economic growth.

The IMF chief noted that she was pleased with a recent European Commission decision to allow both France and the Netherlands a little more time to get their budget deficits under control.

"The fact that they are allowing more time is a good move," she said.

But she wasn’t about to get away without at least one more student challenging her. The AP describes the scene:

One student attempted to pose a question out of turn later in her talk and guards began dragging him away. When he began questioning why Lagarde was only willing to field pre-approved questions, she intervened and asked him to be allowed to pose his question.

The guards allowed him to return, and he asked whether IMF aid doesn't usually end up disproportionately benefitting the rich.

She said economic reforms work better in countries with less income inequality, and the IMF tries to include that in its advice - which is not always heeded by governments.

"We're not imposing a particular system," she responded, "We're trying to be rational about what can actually balance a country."


Follow Becket Adams (@BecketAdams) on Twitter

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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