In April the World Bank launched a new briefing Assessing Globalization, examining the implications of international trade for poverty, inequality and the environment. The document, available only on the Bank’s External Affairs website, sets out to disprove an International Forum on Globalization (IFG) declaration: “rather than leading to economic benefits for all people, it [economic globalization] has brought the planet to the brink of environmental catastrophe, social unrest that is unprecedented, economies of most countries in shambles, an increase in poverty, hunger, landlessness, migration and social dislocation. The experiment may now be called a failure.”
The Bank document concludes that the poorest least-developed countries are not being impoverished by globalization, but they are in danger of being excluded from it. The 0.4 per cent share of these countries in world trade in 1997 was down by half from 1980. Their access to foreign private investment remains negligible. Bank research has found no clear association between growth and inequality. On sustainability, the Bank argues that involvement in exporting markets encourages use of the latest technology.
As it is based on cross-country snapshot statistics rather than a historical or political analysis, the report does not address the main drivers of globalization or the deficits in governance which worry many critics, including those who have recently fed into the consultations around the UK government’s globalization white paper.
A more challenging new look at globalization and the role of the Bank is given in Goodbye America! Globalization, debt and the dollar empire. Author Michael Rowbotham argues that international debt and poverty follow from the monetary system promoted by the US after the second world war.
Goodbye America! is published by Jon Carpenter Books Tel: 01608 811069.