Thursday, March 17, 2005

BBC NEWS | Business | In quotes: Wolfowitz reaction

Quick primer: World Bank used to be called World Bank for Development and Reconstruction which should give you some indication of what they do. Created after WW2 to help rebuild Europe. During the Cold War, funneling of money to keep nasty (and some nice) regimes in power and maintain influence so that the Communist did not. As you can see, massive political considerations do come into play despite this supposedly being don't know what to call it, an aid agency with strings attached? Note that some of these strings are attached by 'well meaning' NGOs and not simply the USA.

To be contrasted with the IMF, which is the lender of last resort i.e. everyone including junk bond traders and your mother have given up on you. Traditionally, the job has gone to an American while the IMF goes to a European.

Anyway, what tickled my little brain was something about the World Bank not going to be 'pro-poor' and I have absolutely no idea what the hell these NGOs and agencies are talking about seeing as they screw up these countries with their voodoo economics and inappropriate (environmental) policy. Or maybe these groups aren't speaking to each other.

Right, my politics go left, my economics generally goes right. So I'm pretty much a firm believer in globalisation and I think in the huge majority of circumstances, Globalisation and free trade is a good thing. And similarly, the environment does have, in the short run, a trade off with the economy. There's no running from that, the best thing really to do is to minimise the environmental impact, get the economy going so people (literally) have the energy and resources to do something about it.

So what is being pro-poor? Not sprouting things like fair trade (paying a fair price for the i have no idea what that means either) and labour standards (way too often a means of protectionism for 1st world workers who can't compete on productivity. you think this is some communist utopia? workers of the world unite indeed) and MNC oppresion (for only paying 50% the average worker's salary instead of 1st world salaries i suppose).

Ah heck...cheerios!


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