What is wrong with the World Bank?

I am a fan of Sebastian Mallaby’s The World’s Banker, a biography of Jim Wolfensohn’s tenure at the World Bank.  Jeffrey Hooke’s The Dinosaur Among Us: The World Bank and its Path to Extinction is the next excellent book on this institution.  Do you want to know exactly why the Bank doesn’t do better, explained in language of property rights and incentives?

I read Hooke as placing the final blame on the very active role of the Board in the Bank’s regular operations.  The incentive is to have the Bank lend lots and create contracts which funnel money back to corporate interests in the U.S. and Western Europe.  As a result Bank loans don’t embody much accountability and the loan or aid recipients can game the system and turn it toward their own political ends and away from growth enhancement.

Contrary to what the title of the book might imply, Hooke wishes to reform rather than eliminate the Bank.  This is not "one of those libertarian rants," and it can be read with profit by all.  Hooke has spent six years working at the Bank and he knows his material very well.

And if you think, as I do, that most books should not exceed 100 pages, you will like this one all the more.  Recommended.


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