More of the Same: World Bank Doing Business Report Continues to Mislead Jomo Kwame Sundaram and Anis Chowdhury

The World Bank's Doing Business Report 2017, subtitled ‘Equal Opportunity for All', continues to mislead despite the many criticisms, including from within, levelled against the Bank's most widely read publication, and Bank management promises of reform for many years. Its Foreword claims, "Evidence from 175 economies reveals that economies with more stringent entry regulations often experience higher levels of income inequality as measured by the Gini index." But what is the evidence base for its strong claims, e.g., that "economies with more business-friendly regulations tend to have lower levels of income inequality"? Closer examination suggests that the "evidence" is actually…

Privatization Cure Often Worse Than Malady Jomo Kwame Sundaram and Anis Chowdhury

Privatization of SOEs has been a cornerstone of the neo-liberal counterrevolution that swept the world from the 1980s following the economic crisis brought about by US Fed's sharp hike in interest rates. Developing countries, seeking aid from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, often had to commit to privatization as a condition for credit support. The World Bank and the IMF then attributed developing countries' inability to adjust to the external shocks of that time, inter alia, to their import-substituting industrial policy initiatives and the inefficiency of the state-owned enterprises (SOEs). Hence, their support came with conditions…

Focus on Inequality Prabhat Patnaik

The World Bank and the IMF have started a new trend of late, of taking “progressive” positions in their publications even while insisting on the same old “conditionalities” in policy negotiations with particular countries. In accordance with this new trend these institutions have now got concerned with issues of poverty and inequality; and the World Bank has just brought out what is supposed to be the first of a series of annual publications tracking progress towards poverty removal and curtailment of inequality. This publication is called Poverty and Shared Prosperity. While I do not wish to review this publication here,…

Economic Forecasts and Reality: Should we believe the World Bank? C.P. ChandrasekhaR & Jayati Ghosh

The World Bank’s latest projections for GDP growth are pessimistic, especially for developing countries. But given its poor track record, how far they are reliable is doubtful. economic_forecasts_reality (Download the full text in PDF format) (This article was originally published in the Business Line print edition dated June 23, 2015  )

Infrastructure Financing as Power Politics C.P. Chandrasekhar

Infrastructure lending may sound an innocuous political terrain of interest only to financiers. But it is proving to be the location for the play out of big power politics, involving especially the US and China. As of now, it appears to be one more battle the US will regret having fought. When the deadline for applications to be a founding member of the China-mooted Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) passed on April 1, 2015, 47 countries had expressed an interest, about 30 of whom had already been accepted. The AIIB is a multilateral development bank to be headquartered in Beijing…

The BRICS Bank: Part of a new financial architecture (1) Oscar Ugarteche

The Sixth BRICS Summit took place in Fortaleza, Brazil and on July 15 of 2014 they announced the establishment of a bank dedicated to financing large scale infrastructure, and a contingent reserves agreement (CRA) of some one hundred billion dollars distributed in accounts of the five central banks. With a capital base authorized at 100 billion US dollars, and already paid to the extent of ten billion, the New Development Bank is prepared to issue instruments in dollars and access needed funds in the international capital markets at low rates. The object of the Bank, whose seat is Shanghai, is…

Statement by Former Staff Members of UNCTAD: Silencing the message or the messenger …. or both? Geneva, 11 April 2012

Since its establishment almost 50 years ago at the instigation of developing countries UNCTAD has always been a thorn in the flesh of economic orthodoxy. Its analyses of global macro-economic issues from a development perspective have regularly provided an alternative view to that offered by the World Bank and the IMF controlled by the west. Now efforts are afoot to silence that voice. It might be understandable if this analysis was being eliminated because it duplicated the work and views of other international organisations, but the opposite is the case - a few countries want to suppress any dissent with…

We need a New World Order at the World Bank Jayati Ghosh

Already the air is thick with rumours, speculation and calculation. No sooner did Robert Zoellick announce that he would step down as president of the World Bank at the end of June than the jockeying for his position began. US treasury secretary Timothy Geithner quickly announced that the US government would put forward a candidate in the coming weeks. This haste is to establish the US's claim to this post, through the so-called "gentlemen's agreement" of the global elite whereby Europe could put one of its own in the IMF and the US controlled the leadership of the World Bank. The arrangement…