Policy makers here in Washington, badly shaken by the anti-American tone of Turkish president Recep Erdoğan, want the European Commission, the European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund—the so-called Troika—to get Greece's finances settled and the country on a path to stability. And soon, now that Turkey can no longer be counted on to serve as a regional anchor. But the EC is busy with Brexit, the ECB with efforts to prevent a full-blown European recession, both more interested in saving the euro than in saving Greece, and this has not been the best of years for the International Monetary Fund.

An internal report accuses the IMF of succumbing to political pressure from Eurozone governments, ignoring its own rules, and keeping members of its executive board in the dark about sensitive policy questions during negotiations over bail-outs for Greece and Ireland. The IMF has "lost its credibility as a crisis manager," produced "overly optimistic projections" in relation to Greece to justify contributing €30 billion to a Greek bailout. "Political factors seemed to play a bigger role than pure technical considerations …" says Eswar Prasad, a Cornell University economist and former chief of the IMF's Financial Studies Division. In the end, the IMF signed on to a programme that many, among them Joseph Stiglitz, winner of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics, say the IMF favored Germany and the creditors, shored up the euro, ignored its own rules on lending only to sustainable borrowers, and did nothing to ameliorate the plight of ordinary Greeks. Then-managing director Dominique Strauss-Kahn, visions of the Élysée Palace dancing in his head, was what former president George W. Bush calls "the decider". You can take the boy out of France, but you can't take France out of the boy.

No surprise to any IMF-watcher these days. Christine Lagrade, the Fund's current managing director, all-but joined EU politicians in campaigning for Britain to remain in the EU, predicting an economic meltdown for Britain if it dared face the world on its own. Having lost, she has now thrown her lot in with France's president François Holland and EC president Jean-Claude Juncker, calling for Theresa May to Brexit on the double, a move favored by France and the eurocracy because it would disadvantage Britain, which has a new government that needs time to gets its negotiating team in place and its priorities in order. You can take the girl out of France, but you can't take France out of the girl.

The original vision of the IMF was as an agency attending to global stability, not the interests of the nation from which the managing director hails. Along with the World Bank, the agency was created at an alcohol-fueled conference of 730 delegates from 44 nations, convened 72 years ago in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire. No matter that the delegates from one of the important attendees, the Soviet Union, did not speak English: Harry Dexter White, the head of the U.S. delegation, was a Soviet agent who kept Moscow informed of the goings-on. The IMF was to monitor a world of fixed exchange rates linked to the dollar and gold, part of a plan by FDR and Treasury Secretary Henry Morganthau, Jr. to eliminate Britain and its currency as world players.

That was then, this is now. Today's IMF includes 189 nations, has some 2,700 employees and an annual budget in excess of $1 billion, almost 18 percent of which comes from U.S. taxpayers. Its mandate was expanded in 2012 to add all macroeconomic and financial sector issues bearing on global stability to its original responsibility for currency stability. The bigger agency with a broader mandate might well be too big to manage, at least by the managing directors it has chosen in more than a decade.

A succession of managing directors has tried. In 2004 Rodrigo Rato took the top chair and served until 2007, when he resigned to face trial in Spain for a variety of frauds involving over 70 bank accounts, and the amassing of a €27 million fortune in a web of dozens of companies. Sr. Rato was succeeded by Dominique Strauss-Kahn, DSK to his friends and later the tabloids. Strauss-Kahn did a reasonable job until arrested in New York City on charges of imposing himself on a hotel maid whose testimony proved so incredible that all criminal charges were dropped. But DSK did settle her civil suit for a reported $1.5 million. Back in France, his defenses against a charge of "aggravated pimping" at an orgy included "lust is not a crime", that he needed the "recreation" at orgies because of his hectic schedule, that he only attended four orgies a year, and that no one can tell the difference between a prostitute and a naked socialite at an orgy. He was acquitted.

In 2011, the aforementioned Madame Christine Lagarde, former French finance minister, took over as managing director. She has responded to the damning report of the IMF inspectors with a Gallic shrug, and says, "I do not see the need to institute new procedures." Lagarde now faces a criminal trial in France for approving a 2008 arbitration decision award of £340 million to a major financial supporter of then-president Nicolas Sarkozy that was later reversed by an appeals court. She has denied all charges.

And is holding onto her job during the trial, a reasonable reaction both to her professions of innocence and the fact that it pays $500,000 per year, tax free, plus benefits and a $75,000 allowance to be paid "without any certification or justification by you, to enable you to maintain, in the interests of the Fund, a scale of living appropriate to your position as Managing Director." The salary is twice the take-home pay of the American president, who must pay taxes on his $400,000 salary, which is about what the IMF pays a mere department director, tax free. Vacations and sick leave follow generous European standards.

All of which might be money well spent if the IMF had been reasonably successful in one of its key functions—forecasting the outlook for the international economy. Forecasting is no easy game. Still, one can't help wondering what is going on in the IMF's highly paid forecasting shop. A study of the 189 IMF members by the Economist finds 220 instances between 1999 and 2014 in which an economy grew one year before sinking the next. "In its April forecasts the IMF never once foresaw the contraction looming in the next year." The magazine's random-number generator got it right 18 percent of the time. A little bit better, a whole lot cheaper.