Tuesday, June 15, 2010


. Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Maria Farrell tells us that the World Bank (her current employer) is stupid:

Upward-trending ideas in the World Bank include ‘the multi-polar world’, the not exactly revolutionary concept that after the global financial crisis, the US and Europe can no longer dictate economic terms to, for example, the BRICs. Another idea that’s bubbled up in the past couple of years is the notion of ‘political economy’.

The term has a peculiar meaning within the Bank. Here, political economy is shorthand for the notion that big loans to governments take place in a local political environment, and this can be counter-productive and even lead to graft. It’s amazing to a contractor like me that this presumably heretofore unacknowledged fact of life requires the prosecution of a managerial and intellectual agenda by some very talented and committed people to introduce it explicitly into the decision-making calculus. But in an institution where ‘reform’ still means ‘Wolfowitz’, the currency of a perfectly good idea can be of the kind you carry around in wheelbarrows.

It's not exactly a secret that the World Bank is often behind the times, ideas-wise. Nor is it a recent development that "reform" might mean something like "Wolfowitz". (And a political economist shouldn't be surprised by either.) But this... this... this is not good news.


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