World Bank

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  • World Bank
    • What is it made up of?
      • International Bank for reconstruction and Development (IBRD), which gives loans to middle-income countries.
      • International Development Agency, which makes loans to the poorest countries.
    • What are the global public goods for which the World Bank provides loans?
      • Improving public health
      • Reducing environmental damage
      • Combatting water scarcity
      • Improving public accountability
      • Reducing conflict
      • Improving economic diversity
      • Promoting trade
      • Improving international financial systems
    • Successes
      • By encouraging diversification away from subsistence agriculture through SAPs, developing countries have been able to exploit new opportunities in the global economy.
        • Helped to encourage growing convergence between the economies of the Global North and South.
      • Taken the lead in encouraging debt relief for developing countries through the Highly Indebted Poor Countries initiative (HIPC).
      • Under recent presidents (Robert Zoellick 2007-12) and Jim Kim (2012-), it has increasingly focused on developing human resources by investing in education, business training, gender-equality schemes and fighting diseases like HIV/AIDS. Played a big role in combatting climate change, measuring its projects in terms of environmental sustainability.
      • Recent projects have increasingly focused on 'country ownership', providing recipient states with a greater say over how loans are spent.
      • Its redistributive role. Worked closely with the UN to have extreme poverty in the world by 2015. Has two further targets to be achieved by 2030: to reduce percentage of the world's population living on less than $1.90 a day to 3 per cent and to boost income growth of every country in the bottom 40 per cent.
      • Its willingness to adapt - it's evolved from being an organisation funding big infrastructure projects to one focusing on promoting development and poverty reduction. Has also adapted its approach to its loans from dealing out high-handed technical remedies to involving local people and organisations in how loans are spent and giving greater consideration to their structural social, human and environmental impact.
      • It's a key disseminator of information about development through its regular reports.
    • Criticisms
      • According to Wallerstein's world systems theory, the Washington Consensus maintains developing economies in a peripheral or subordinate status.
      • Opening up markets to global competition undermines traditional industries and small-scale farming. Resulting unemployment can lead to a major increase in social problems.
      • SAPs often require developing countries to dramatically cut public spending, having a devastating effect on their already poor populations.
      • Conditionality infringes on the sovereign right of nation states to determine their own economic policies.
      • US has too much influence over the bank and its policies. This has led to it being overly keen on deregulation, privatisation and promotion of free trade (economic orthodoxy practised by the US), while since the end of the cold War the rest of the developed world has subscribed to neo-liberal economic policy.

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