The truth is that the foibles of Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the managing director who recently resigned under pressure after being indicted for sexual assault in a New York hotel, are a sideshow.

While the global financial news outlets have covered the Strauss-Kahn scandal with about as much substance as would the National Inquirer, the real issue is that, whoever gets his former job, this powerful global institution is likely to change its policies not a hair.

That may be fine for money center banks and other big government bond-holders. But it offers little to cheer for investors – or ordinary people – who'd like to see a real economic recovery in Europe, complete with opportunities for robust long-term growth.

Ironically, many of the countries that swore off dealings with the IMF after the 1990s debt crises – Indonesia, Malaysia, South Korea, for example – have come through the current global recession reasonably well. Russia, which also showed the IMF the door, is at least not facing a debt crisis. But some of the countries now in the worst straits – Ireland, Iceland, and Spain, for instance – were poster children for IMF-type economic policies before the '08 crash. They cut taxes, maintained relatively modest ratios of government debt to GDP, and demolished barriers to foreign investment.

The IMF became the target of terrible scorn in the late 1990s, when its harsh conditions for loans to stricken countries helped turn the Asian debt crisis into a full-blown disaster. The street-level movement against what's sometimes known as corporate globalization was precipitated in part by the IMF and World Bank's imposition of fiscal austerity and ultra-free market economic policies on developing countries and ex-Soviet Bloc states. The result for most of the population in these countries was a disastrous boom-and-bust cycle.

This shows up starkly in the economic record that Latin America has compiled over the last 50 years. According to the research by Mark Weisbrot and David Rosnick at the Center for Economic and Policy Research, per capita annual GDP for the region grew 3% from 1960 through 1979, or 80% for the entire period. Then came a commodity price collapse followed by the Latin American debt crisis, which turned the 1980s into a “lost decade.” Governments throughout the region turned to free-market policies engineered by the IMF and the World Bank.

But while the 1990s were often advertised as a new beginning, in reality growth was sluggish for these countries while economic inequality – already among the worst in the world – soared. For the period 1980-1999, per capita annual GDP was down to 0.5%, for a cumulative 11% over the two decades. The past decade has seen some improvement, to 1.9% annual per capita growth, but that's still comparatively anemic.