50 Years Is Enough: The Case against the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund

50 Years Is Enough: The Case against the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund

50 Years Is Enough: The Case against the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund

50 Years Is Enough: The Case against the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund

Synopsis

As the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) celebrate fifty years of economic dominion over the Third World, this reader brings the best progressive authors together to critique these two main proponents of neo-liberalism. 50 Years is Enough covers such topics as failed development projects, the feminization of poverty, the detruction of the environment, the internal workings of the World Bank and the IMF, and the struggle to build alternatives to neo-liberal policies.It also includes a guide to the many organizations involved in the struggle to reform the World Bank and the IMF.

Excerpt

As World War II raged across Europe and Asia, the leaders of England and the United States realized that, in order to ensure a liberal, capitalist world economy after the war, they would need multilateral institutions that could enforce rules favoring the free movement of capital internationally. In July 1944 the two governments convened a conference at Bretton Woods, New Hampshire. There they developed the plans for two institutions that would shape the world economy for the next 50 years.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) was established to smooth world commerce by reducing foreign exchange restrictions. It also created a reserve of funds to be tapped by countries experiencing temporary balance of payments problems so they could continue trading without interruption. This pump-priming of the world market would benefit all trading countries, especially the biggest traders, the United States and Britain.

Also founded at Bretton Woods was the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (World Bank). The World Bank was given the task of making post-war development loans for infrastructure projects (roads, utilities), which, because they were unprofitable, were not likely to be initiated by private capital. The Bank was also mandated to promote private foreign investment by means of guarantees or participation in loans and other investments made by private investors.

The founders of these institutions hoped that by establishing groundrules before the end of the war, they could gird themselves against the twin threats of state-managed economies under a socialist model and international anarchy brought on by cutthroat varieties of nationalistic capitalism. They saw that if the major powers did not ensure some access to big capital for the elites of less prosperous countries, those elites could adopt policies with the potential for unravelling the world capitalist economy.

The unwritten goal of the World Bank and the IMF — one that has . . .

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