Past Edition
Edition Three, 2004
Revamp or retire?
World Bank and IMF at 60

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Edition Summary:

Weighed and found wanting

As the Bretton Woods Institutions celebrate their 60th anniversary this year, it's time for a stocktake. Global Future examines some of the mounting questions about the roles, structures and future directions of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.

Outraged at the serious impacts of structural adjustment on poor communities, some of our contributors ask whether “new” approaches are simply euphemisms for adjustment. They see the new World Bank rhetoric as hollow; despite talk of reducing poverty, it still seems to be keeping the rich rich. Indeed, if the IFIs’ goal has been a world free of poverty, what have they been doing the last 60 years? asks one of our contributors.

In poverty reduction policy, governments clearly need more flexibility. Yet it's argued that the Bank needs to accept that its role in governance is inherently political. Can respect for human rights be a pre-condition for loans and grants? And what about addressing the serious problem of corruption?

As for the IMF, most of our contributors agree that it should continue as adviser on macro-economic policy and buffer against global economic crisis. But it should cease being gate-keeper for development funding, argues one. It must let go of its "command and control" approach, and deal with dilemmas of globalised membership, as well as its risky exposure to debtor default.

Our Bank and Fund contributors are candid about some of their institutions’ shortcomings, but say they are serious about more policy space, greater transparency and engaging civil society. Despite positive signs, some will need convincing. Will they get serious about eradicating debt, or even the “big picture” of fair international trade? Whatever shape the Bank and Fund take in this still-new century, they must put the poor first.


  • IMF in developing countries - time for a re-think - Hetty Kovach
  • Financing human rights abuse - Shirin Ebadi
  • Have we seen 60 years of failure? - Soren Ambrose
  • Do the IFIs help developing countries tackle poverty? - His Excellency Yoweri Museveni, President of Uganda
  • Whose blueprint? politics, institution-building and the World Bank - Kel Currah
  • Physician, heal thyself - Haidy Ear-Dupuy
  • IMF and World Bank reform - a review of progress - Allan H Meltzer
  • The IMF in low-income countries - lessons from an evaluation - David Goldsbrough
  • Can the problem of Third World debt be solved? - Collins Magalasi
  • Common dreams - the World Bank and faith communities - Lucy Keough
  • 50 years were enough - Doug Hellinger
  • Reforming the IMF - is it time for a tune-up? - James Boughton
  • Missing the forest for the trees - Lee Tan
  • Multilateral institutions and Latin American (under-)development - Klaus Heynig
  • God's "pro-poor" yardstick - Tim Costello
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