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The Political Economy of the World Bank : The Early Years

Author

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  • Michele Alacevich

Abstract

This book covers the early years of the International Bank of Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), commonly known as the World Bank when it first confronted the issue of development as a fundamental part of its mission. The book is mainly concerned with how the Bank interpreted its mission and, more specifically, how its mission was born: what events shaped it, what cultural and ideological background influenced it and what was the historical context in which it arose. So this book is a contribution to the study of the prehistory of development, understood in its social and economic context. In this respect, the study of the early years of the World Bank offers excellent context for observation for three reasons. First, during its history there is a clear separation between the growth phase and the phase of social objectives. Second, in the first years of activity already the Bank could hear murmurs of opposition. Finally, there was a sudden change in the mandate of the institution changed from supporting the reconstruction of Europe after the war, to help developing countries. The transition from one phase to another was a formative one and redefined the institution. The upshot of the foregoing was to set a fertile ground for exploring the signs of conflict between the different approaches to development. The first chapter deals with the historiography that underlies the writing. It refers to a wide literature using periods of transition or crisis in the history of the institution to understand its dynamics and mechanisms. Reducing its support for European reconstruction, the Bank focused on the development of countries. The internal tensions that arose and led to a complete break between the Bank and the director of the mission (the economist Lauchlin Currie) are very useful for understanding better the evolution of the institution. The third chapter explores the tensions between Currie and the Bank and particularly, between Currie and the economist Albert Hirschman, who the Bank replaced as envoy to Colombia. The final chapter focuses again on the International Bank and particularly in lending mechanisms for developing countries.

Suggested Citation

  • Michele Alacevich, 2009. "The Political Economy of the World Bank : The Early Years," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 13807, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbpubs:13807
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Hausman, William J. & Neufeld, John L. & Schreiber, Till, 2014. "Multilateral and bilateral aid policies and trends in the allocation of electrification aid, 1970–2001," Utilities Policy, Elsevier, vol. 29(C), pages 54-62.
    2. Javier G. Gómez-Pineda, 2016. "Inflación de costos: las devaluaciones de los años cincuenta y el brote populista de 1963," Borradores de Economia 924, Banco de la Republica de Colombia.
    3. Roger E. Backhouse & Beatrice Cherrier, 2014. "Becoming Applied: The Transformation of Economics after 1970," Center for the History of Political Economy Working Paper Series 2014-15, Center for the History of Political Economy.
    4. Andrés Álvarez & Andrés M. Guiot-Isaac, 2018. "L. Currie and A. O. Hirschman on Development as a Problem of Decision Making," DOCUMENTOS CEDE 015985, UNIVERSIDAD DE LOS ANDES-CEDE.
    5. Javier G. Gómez-Pineda, 2016. "Inflación de costos: las devaluaciones de los años cincuenta y el brote populista de 1963 / Cost-push inflation: the devaluations of the fifties and the 1963 populist outbreak," BORRADORES DE ECONOMIA 014204, BANCO DE LA REPÚBLICA.
    6. Ana Maria Bianchi, 2011. "Visiting-economists through Hirschman's eyes," The European Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 18(2), pages 217-242.
    7. de Janvry, Alain & Dethier, Jean-Jacques, 2012. "The World Bank and governance : the Bank's efforts to help developing countries build state capacity," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6275, The World Bank.
    8. Jimena Hurtado, 2014. "Albert O. Hirschman y la economía del desarrollo: lecciones para el presente," REVISTA CUADERNOS DE ECONOMÍA, UN - RCE - CID, June.

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