World Bank

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World Bank
Formation 27 December 1944
Type International organization
Legal status Treaty
Purpose/focus Crediting
Membership 186 countries
President Robert B. Zoellick
Main organ Board of Directors[1]
Parent organization World Bank Group
Website http://www.worldbank.org/

The World Bank is an international bank that lends money and other help [2] to developing nations for infrastructure. The World Bank has the goal of reducing poverty.

The World Bank is different from the World Bank Group, because the World Bank is made up of only two institutions: the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) and the International Development Association (IDA). The World Bank Group has these two, but also three more:[3] International Finance Corporation (IFC), Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), and International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID).

History[change | change source]

John Maynard Keynes (right) represented the United Kingdom at the conference, and Harry Dexter White (left) represented the United States.

The World Bank is one of five institutions started at the Bretton Woods Conference in 1944. The International Monetary Fund, is another one. Many countries sent people to attend the Bretton Woods Conference. The most powerful countries with people there were the United States and United Kingdom which controlled most of the negotiations.[4]

The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund are both based in Washington, but the World Bank is headed by an American, while the IMF is led by a European.

1945–1968[change | change source]

From the start until 1967 the bank did not lend as much money as it does now. Careful screening of loan applications was common. The bank wanted to provide loans for reconstruction and development, but if they lent out too much, there would be less trust in the bank.[5]

Bank president John McCloy chose France to be the first country to receive a loan from the World Bank; Poland and Chile applied but did not receive one. The loan was for $987 million, half the amount that France actually asked for. There were very strict rules about the use of the funds. Bank staff made sure that the French government would have a balanced budget and pay back what it owed to the World Bank first before it paid back other countries. The United States State Department told the French government that the Cabinet should not have any communists. To get the loan, the French government removed the Communist coalition government. The loan to France was given very quickly after that.[6]

The Marshall Plan of 1947 meant that many European countries already got help, so the World Bank began to lend to non-European countries. Until 1968, loans were used mainly to pay for projects that would help the country pay it back (such projects as ports, highway systems, and power plants).

1968–1980[change | change source]

From 1968 to 1980 the bank worked mostly on meeting the basic needs of people in poor countries. The amount of money being loaned out grew bigger, and more loans were given. This was because the loans were not just given for infrastructure, but also for social services and other things.

These changes were made by Robert McNamara who became the president in 1968.[7] McNamara managed the Bank in the same way he had worked when he was United States Secretary of Defense and President of the Ford Motor Company.[8] McNamara changed the focus toward things such as building schools and hospitals, improving literacy and farming. McNamara started a new system of gathering information from nations applying for loans. This helped the bank to process loan applications much faster. To give out more loans, McNamara told bank treasurer Eugene Rotberg to find new sources of money, because the northern banks that had lent out the money did not have enough. Rotberg used the bond market to increase the amount of money that the bank could lend.[9] One result of lending so much to help poor countries was that the countries in the Third World started owing a lot more money. From 1976 to 1980 developing world debt rose at an average of 20% a year.[10][11]

1989–Present[change | change source]

From 1989 World Bank policy changed, because many people were complaining. Environmental groups and NGOs were also lent money, to help fix the things that the people were complaining about.[12] Now bank projects include caring for the environment.

The World Bank headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Millennium Development Goals[change | change source]

The World Bank's current focus is on meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). This means lending mainly to countries that are not very poor, at interest rates which are a little bit higher than the ones it borrows at. The IDA provides low or no interest loans and grants to the poorest countries. The Bank’s mission is to help developing countries to develop more and become less poor. They will also meet the MDGs by helping countries to become good places for investment, jobs and sustainable growth. This will help the country's economic growth through investment and help the poor to share the results of economic growth.

Key Factors[change | change source]

The World Bank says that there are five key factors necessary for economic growth:

  1. Build capacity: Making governments stronger and more educated.
  2. Infrastructure creation: Making laws to encourage business, and protect individual and property rights.
  3. Development of Financial Systems: Starting strong systems that can lend and borrow in many different situations.
  4. Combating corruption: Stopping corruption in governments.
  5. Research, Consultancy and Training: helping students, academics and organisations who are interested do research into financial affairs.

Poverty reduction strategies[change | change source]

For the poorest developing countries in the world, the bank’s plans are based on poverty reduction strategies. The World Bank looks very carefully at local groups of people, and the needs of the country, to develop a strategy that works best for that country. The government then says what it will do to help stop poverty, and the World Bank works with it.

Forty-five countries gave US$25.1 billion in "aid for the world's poorest countries", aid that goes to the World Bank International Development Association (IDA) which distributes the money to eighty poorer countries. While richer nations sometimes pay for their own aid projects, Robert B. Zoellick, the president of the World Bank, said when the gifts were announced on December 15, 2007, that World Bank money "is the core funding that the poorest developing countries rely on".[13]

Leadership[change | change source]

The President of the Bank is currently Jim Yong Kim Robert B. Zoellick. He is responsible for chairing the meetings of the Boards of Directors and for running the Bank. The Bank President has always been a US citizen chosen by the United States, the largest shareholder in the bank. The person is then approved by the Board of Governors. They are president for five years, and after that they might be chosen again.[14]

The Executive Directors, represent the Bank's member countries. They make up the Board of Directors and usually meet twice a week to approve and discuss loans and guarantees, new policies, the budget, ways to help countries and other important decisions.

There are 24 Vice-Presidents, three Senior Vice Presidents and two Executive Vice Presidents.

Voting power[change | change source]

In 2010, voting powers at the World Bank were changed so that developing countries, especially China, have a bigger vote. The countries with most voting power are now the United States (15.85%), Japan (6.84%), China (4.42%), Germany (4.00%), France (3.75%) and the United Kingdom (3.75%). Under the changes, other countries that saw big gains included Brazil, India, South Korea and Mexico. Most developed countries' voting power was reduced. Russia's voting power was not changed. [1][15]

Criticism[change | change source]

The World Bank has been criticized by non-governmental organizations, such as Survival International, and academics, including its former Chief Economist Joseph Stiglitz.[16] Critics say that the free market that the Bank supports is harmful to economic development if done badly, too quickly, in the wrong order or in weak economies.[17]

In Masters of Illusion: The World Bank and the Poverty of Nations (1996), Catherine Caufield argued that the way the World Bank works is bad for southern nations. Caufield said that the World Bank focuses too much on "development". To the World Bank, different nations all need the same "remedy of development". She argued that to have even modest success, Western practices are used instead of traditional economic structures and values. A second thing the World Bank thinks is that poor countries cannot become modern without money and advice from other countries.

A number of academics in developing countries have said that the way the World Bank works only blames the poor for being poor.[18]

One of the strongest criticisms of the World Bank is the way it was run. While the World Bank represents 186 countries, it is run by a small number of powerful countries. These countries choose who runs the World Bank, so what they want is what the bank does.[19]

The World Bank is two different things: a political organization and a practical organization. As a political organization, the World Bank does what donor and borrowing governments, private capital markets, and other international organizations want. As a practical organization, it must be neutral, working mainly in development aid, technical assistance, and loans. Because the World Bank has to do what donor countries and private capital markets want, it says poverty is best solved by "market" policies. Many people think this is wrong.[20]

In the 1990s, the World Bank and the IMF made the Washington Consensus. Many now agree that the Washington Consensus looked too much at the growth of GDP, and not enough how long the growth lasted or whether growth was even good at all.[21]

Some studies show that the World Bank has increased poverty and been bad for the environment, public health and cultural diversity.[22] Some critics also say that the World Bank has always supported Neoliberalism, forcing developing countries to follow rules which have been damaging.[23][24]

People also say that the World Bank pushes US or Western interests in certain parts of the world. Even South American nations have established the Bank of the South in order to cut down on US influence there.[25] The fact that the President is always a citizen of the United States, nominated by the President of the United States makes some people unhappy. The US has just over 16% of the shares in the bank; some people say this makes the voting unfair because they have too much power,[26] as decisions only happen if the countries that support it have 85% of the bank's shares.[27] The World Bank also does not need to explain what it does to anyone.[28]

A lot of the criticism is protesting. The World Bank Oslo 2002 Protests,[29] the October Rebellion,[30] and the Battle of Seattle are among the protests that have happened.[31] Such demonstrations are held all over the world, even amongst the Brazilian Kayapo people.[32]

In 2008, a World Bank report found that biofuels had driven food prices up 75%. This was important news, but it was never published. Officials said that they thought it because George W. Bush would be embarrassed.[33]

Knowledge production[change | change source]

The World Bank has been criticised for the way it carries out “the production, accumulation, circulation and functioning” of knowledge. The Bank’s production of knowledge has become important to explain why big loans are given out. The Bank uses many scientists around the world, organisations and other people to help make data and strategies.”.[34] The information is created to stop people looking too closely at what the Bank does.[35] The only knowledge system that is used is the Western one, meaning that the systems that other countries used are put aside and the Western one forced in.[36] Knowledge production has become very useful for the Bank, which plans carefully how to use it[35] to explain why they focus on development.

Structural adjustment[change | change source]

The effect of structural adjustment policies on poor countries has been one of the most important criticisms of the World Bank. The oil crisis in the late 1970s made many countries have serious money issues.[37] The World Bank decided that it would help by giving out special loans called "structural adjustment loans", which meant the policies of the country had to be changed to reduce inflation. Some of these policies included encouraging production and investment, changing exchange rates and changing the way government resources were used.[38] These were most effective in countries where these policies could be implemented easily.[38] For some countries, especially in Africa, inflation became worse.[38] Stopping poverty was not part of these loans, so the poor usually became poorer because the governments were told to spend less money and raise food prices.[38]

By the late 1980s, people realised that structural adjustment policies were worsening life for the world’s poor. The World Bank changed structural adjustment loans after that.[39] In 1999, the World Bank and the IMF introduced the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper to replace structural adjustment loans.[40] Some people say that the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper approach is just another way of using structural adjustment policies as it continues to do a lot of the same things.[41] Neither way has solved the problems of why some countries are so poor.[42] By making some countries owe others money, many believe that the World Bank has taken over those countries' power to choose how they run their economy.[43]

Sovereign immunity[change | change source]

Despite the goals of “good governance and anti-corruption″[44] the World Bank needs sovereign immunity from countries it deals with.[45][46][47][48][49] Sovereign immunity means nothing the World Bank does can be punished. Some people say sovereign immunity is a “shield which [The World Bank] wants resort to, for escaping accountability and security by the people.”[45] Because the United States has veto power, it is the only country that can stop the World Bank from doing things it doesn't like.[45]

Environmental strategy[change | change source]

The World Bank's work on a way to fix climate change and environmental threats has also been criticized. People say it has no real vision and purpose, and a limited focus on only what it can do in global and regional governance. People also say it ignores some specific issues in certain parts of the world, like. issues of rights to food and land, and sustainable land use. Critics have also seen that only 1% of the World Bank's lending goes to the environmental sector.[50]

Environmentalists are asking the Bank to stop worldwide support for coal plants and other things that pollute the environment. For instance, many people have criticized the 2010 decision of the World Bank's approval for a $3.75 billion loan to build the world’s 4th largest coal-fired power plant in South Africa. The plant will increase coal mining, and cause more pollution.[51]

References[change | change source]

  1. http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/EXTABOUTUS/ORGANIZATION/BODEXT/0,,pagePK:64020055~theSitePK:278036,00.html
  2. "About Us". World Bank. 2008-10-14. http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/EXTABOUTUS/0,,pagePK:50004410~piPK:36602~theSitePK:29708,00.html. Retrieved 2008-11-09.
  3. "About The World Bank (FAQs)". World Bank. http://go.worldbank.org/1M3PFQQMD0. Retrieved 2007-10-07.
  4. Goldman, Michael. Imperial Nature: The World Bank and Struggles for Social Justice in the Age of Globalization. New York: Yale University Press, 2005 pp. 52–54
  5. Goldman, Michael. Imperial Nature: The World Bank and Struggles for Social Justice in the Age of Globalization. New York: Yale University Press, 2005 pp. 56–60
  6. Bird, Kai. The Chairman: John J. McCloy, the Making of the American Establishment. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1992, pp. 288, 290–291
  7. Goldman, Michael. Imperial Nature: The World Bank and Struggles for Social Justice in the Age of Globalization. New York: University of South Asia Press, 2005 pp.60–63
  8. Goldman, Michael. Imperial Nature: The World Bank and Struggles for Social Justice in the Age of Globalization. New York: Yale University Press, 2006 pp.62
  9. Rotberg, Eugene. “Financial Operations of the World Bank.” In Bretton Woods: Looking to the Future. ed. Bretton Woods Commission. Washington, D.C.: Bretton Woods Commission, 1994
  10. Mosley, Paul, Jane Harrigan, and John Toye. Aid and Power: The World Bank and Policy-Based Lending. London: Routledge, 1991
  11. Toussaint, Eric. Your Money or Your Life! The Tyranny of Global Finance. London: Pluto Press, 1999
  12. Goldman, Michael. Imperial Nature: The World Bank and Struggles for Social Justice in the Age of Globalization. New York: Yale University Press, 2005, pp. 93–97
  13. Landler, Mark (December 15, 2007). "Britain Overtakes U.S. as Top World Bank Donor". The New York Times (The New York Times Company). http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/15/world/15worldbank.html. Retrieved 2007-12-15.
  14. "Organization". The World Bank Group. http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/EXTABOUTUS/0,,contentMDK:20040580~menuPK:1696997~pagePK:51123644~piPK:329829~theSitePK:29708,00.html. Retrieved 2009-03-25.
  15. China given more influence in World Bank,RTHK, 26 April 2010
  16. See Joseph Stiglitz, The Roaring Nineties, Globalization and Its Discontents, and Making Globalization Work.
  17. MacClancy, Jeremy (2002). Exotic No More: Anthropology on the Front Lines. University Of Chicago Press. ISBN 0226500136.
  18. David Moore's edited book The World Bank, University of KwaZulu-Natal Press, 2007
  19. Woods, Ngaire. The Globalizers: The IMF, the World Bank, and Their Borrowers. Ithica and London: Cornell University Press, 2006, pp.190
  20. Weaver, Catherine. Hypocrisy Trap: The World Bank and The Poverty of Reform. Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2008, pp.31–32
  21. Stiglitz, Joseph E. Making Globalization Work. New York and London: W.W. Norton & Company, 2006, pp. 17
  22. "Criticism of World Trade Organization, World Bank and International Monetary Fund - Editorial". The Ecologist (original), later republished at BNET Business Network. 2000-09. Archived from the original on 2012-07-09. http://archive.is/i5d4. Retrieved 2007-10-07.
  23. Uvin, P. (2002) On High Moral Ground: The Incorporation of Human Rights by the Development Enterprise. In: PRAXIS The Fletcher Journal of Development Studies, Volume XVII pp1-11. Medford MA: Tufts University. Online at: http://fletcher.tufts.edu/praxis/archives/xvii/Uvin.pdf
  24. Hertz, N. (2004) I.O.U.: The Debt Threat and Why We Must Defuse It. London: Harper Perennial.
  25. BBC NEWS | Business | New South American bank planned
  26. Wade, Robert (2002). "U.S. hegemony and the World Bank: the fight over people and ideas". Review of International Political Economy 9 (2): 215–243. doi:10.1080/09692290110126092.
  27. Monbiot, G. (2004) The Age of Consent. London: Harper Perennial.
  28. Stone, Diane and Wright, Christopher eds. (2006) The World Bank and Governance: A Decade of Reform and Reaction, Routledge.
  29. Gibbs, Walter (2002-06-25). New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2002/06/25/world/world-briefing-europe-norway-protests-as-world-bank-meets.html?n=Top/Reference/Times%20Topics/Subjects/F/Foreign%20Aid.
  30. "Violence Erupts at Protest in Georgetown". The Washington Post: p. B01. October 20, 2007. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/10/19/AR2007101901728.html. Retrieved 30 May 2008.
  31. Kimberly A.C. Wilson, Embattled police chief resigns, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, December 7, 1999. Accessed online May 19, 2008.
  32. Clendenning, Alan (Altamira, Brazil) (2008-05-21). "Amazon Indians Attack Official Over Dam Project". Associated Press. http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2008/05/080521-AP-indians-dam.html.
  33. Aditya Chakrabortty. (2008). Secret report: biofuel caused food crisis. The Guardian.
  34. Goldman, Michael. Imprerial Nature: The World Bank and Struggles for Social Justice in the Age of Globalization. New York: Yale University Press, 2005 pp.156
  35. 35.0 35.1 Goldman, Michael. Imprerial Nature: The World Bank and Struggles for Social Justice in the Age of Globalization. New York: Yale University Press, 2005 pp.179
  36. Escobar, Arturo. “Encountering Development: the Making and Unmaking of the Third World.” New Jersey: Princeton University Press (1995), p. 13
  37. de Vries, Barend A. “The World Bank’s Focus on Poverty.” The World Bank: Lending on a Global Scale Eds. Jo Marie Griesgraber and Bernhard G. Gunter. London and Chicago: Pluto Press, 1996, pp.68.
  38. 38.0 38.1 38.2 38.3 de Vries, Barend A. “The World Bank’s Focus on Poverty.” The World Bank: Lending on a Global Scale Eds. Jo Marie Griesgraber and Bernhard G. Gunter. London and Chicago: Pluto Press, 1996, pp.69.
  39. de Vries, Barend A. “The World Bank’s Focus on Poverty.” The World Bank: Lending on a Global Scale Eds. Jo Marie Griesgraber and Bernhard G. Gunter. London and Chicago: Pluto Press, 1996, pp.70.
  40. Tan, Celine. “The poverty of amnesia: PRSPs in the legacy of structural adjustment.” The World Bank and Governance: A Decade of Reform and Reaction. Eds. Diane Stone and Christopher Wright London and New York: Routledge, 2007, pp. 147.
  41. Tan, Celine. “The poverty of amnesia: PRSPs in the legacy of structural adjustment.” The World Bank and Governance: A Decade of Reform and Reaction. Eds. Diane Stone and Christopher Wright London and New York: Routledge, 2007, pp. 152.
  42. Tan, Celine. “The poverty of amnesia: PRSPs in the legacy of structural adjustment.” The World Bank and Governance: A Decade of Reform and Reaction Eds. Diane Stone and Christopher Wright London and New York: Routledge, 2007, pp. 152.
  43. Chossudovsky M. The Globalization of Poverty: Impacts of IMF and World Bank Reforms. Penang: Third World Network, 1997 in Tan, 152
  44. "Fraud and Corruption". World Bank. 2009-10-24. http://go.worldbank.org/29GGH5RJ60.
  45. 45.0 45.1 45.2 "The World Bank and the Question of Immunity". IFI Watch Bangladesh. September 4, 2004. http://www.unnayan.org/Other/IFI_Watch_Bangladesh_Vol_1%20No_1.pdf.
  46. "Soverign Immunity". World Bank. http://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTINFANDLAW/Resources/sovereignimmunity.pdf. Retrieved 2009-10-24.
  47. Adam Isaac Hasson. "EXTRATERRITORIAL JURISDICTION AND SOVEREIGN IMMUNITY ON TRIAL:NORIEGA, PINOCHET, AND MILOSEVIC—TRENDS IN POLITICAL ACCOUNTABILITY AND TRANSNATIONAL CRIMINAL LAW". http://www.bc.edu/bc_org/avp/law/lwsch/journals/bciclr/25_1/05_TXT.htm. Retrieved 2009-10-23.
  48. "Crime and Reward: Immunity To The World Bank". 06 November 2004. http://www.countercurrents.org/gl-muhammad061104.htm.
  49. "Water Policies and the International Financial Institutions". Public Citizen. http://www.citizen.org/cmep/Water/cmep_Water/wbimf/.
  50. Vedeld, Trond: Can the World Bank Save the World? The NIBR International Blog 23.02.2010
  51. Word Bank approves coal plant is South Africa April 9 2010 Democracy Now!