The World Bank: Development agency, credit union, or institutional dinosaur? Chan Chee Khoon

As an agent of global social reproduction, the World Bank itself is also subject to forces pushing for privatization (in this case, divestment of its development lending role to private capital markets), much in the way that welfarist states are urged to selectively offload their more profitable (or commercially viable) social services to the private sector. Jessica Einhorn’s call to wind down the IBRD (Foreign Affairs, January/February 2006) follows upon the recommendations of the Meltzer Commission (US Congress, 2000) for a triage of borrower countries: debt cancellation, performance-based grants for the most destitute of highly-indebted countries, as opposed to the more “credit-worthy” borrowers with access to capital markets, who should be weaned from multilateral lending agencies and henceforth be serviced by private lending sources (i.e. the financial analogue of “targeted” programs in health services). Indeed, this targeted approach is the persuasive face and generic template for the privatization of social services.

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