Analysis

Social services

Analysis

The elusive quest for ‘fiscal space’

For the last several years the World Bank and IMF have squared off against governments, NGOs, UN agencies and even each other over the concept of ‘fiscal space’. This often nebulous and ill-defined term has caused much confusion. Nancy Alexander finds that at the heart of the matter is a difference of opinion over how and when governments should be allowed to invest in both infrastructure and basic services.

2 April 2007 | At Issue

Analysis

Recent Update Features

Recent features in the Bretton Woods Update

2 April 2007 | Review

IFI governance

Analysis

Bridging the democratic deficit

The IMF should implement a double majority voting system that requires the achievement of two separate majorities - one based on one-country one-vote and the other on economically weighted quotas - for any decision to be made. This paper describes this system as a state-weight double majority, reflecting the two components of the suggested approach.

2 February 2007 | Reports

Accountability

Analysis

The IFCs lessons of experience & the Chad-Cameroon oil and pipeline project

In September 2006 the IFC published its first issue of a new publication entitled Lessons of Experience. However, the IFC's lessons drawn from the external compliance monitoring group in the Chad-Cameroon project read more like a tool to market the concept of external monitors to IFC clients than lessons meant to design a more effective role for the external monitor in improving implementation of social and environmental commitments.

23 November 2006 | Briefings

Accountability

Analysis

Research, knowledge and the art of “paradigm maintenance”

Robin Broad, professor in the School of International Service at American University, describes six mechanisms by which the World Bank's development economics vice-presidency performs a "paradigm-maintenance" role, privileging individuals whose work "resonates" with the neo-liberal free-market ideology.

20 November 2006 | At Issue

Finance

Analysis

Too much, too soon: IMF conditionality and inflation targeting

Gerald Epstein, professor of economics at the University of Massachusetts, finds that despite little evidence of the success of inflation targeting in promoting economic growth, employment creation or poverty reduction, the IMF is increasingly using loan conditions and technical assistance to push its use. There is an urgent need for viable alternatives that focus on employment generation, poverty reduction, export promotion and investment enhancement to be given more attention.

11 September 2006 | At Issue

IFI governance

Analysis

Beware the big, bland wolf

What has most surprised World Bank watchers is how little Paul Wolfowitz has changed the institution he took over one year ago. On Africa, infrastructure, debt relief and the environment, he has stayed the course - for better or worse - set by his predecessor James Wolfensohn. On the high-profile issue of corruption, he has created a lot of noise, but many question whether or not he has a plan. Only in his management moves has he lived up to the fears - or in some cases wishes - of his critic

19 June 2006 | At Issue

Finance

Analysis

Trip wires and speed bumps in service of global financial stability: A proactive role for the IMF

Under the current IMF strategic review, a "review of the effectiveness of the Fund's instruments to facilitate crisis resolution" is planned. Ilene Grabel, professor of international finance at the University of Denver, argues that the Fund must move from being a reactive institution to being a pro-active one. The IMF should use its technical expertise to mitigate the risks that culminate in financial crises, involving a programme of 'trip wires and speed bumps'.

8 April 2006 | At Issue

Finance

Analysis

The IMF and capital flight: Redesigning the international financial architecture

The international financial system facilitates trillions of dollars of capital flight from developing and developed countries to onshore and offshore financial centres, with the active participation of banks and other financial institutions. The consequences are massive tax evasion, a resultant erosion of state budgets, and rising disrespect for the law. The relevant international organisations that, working together, can change this situation are the IMF, the OECD, and the UN.

25 January 2006 | At Issue

IFI governance

Analysis

How much trust should we put in the funds?

In 2004, the World Bank was responsible for the disbursement of over $3 billion through the 903 trust funds that it manages. The amount of funds being channelled through trust funds looks set to take off as increased international aid commitments chase limited spending channels. Recipients of these funds may see them as manna from heaven - but if trust fund support is not additional to other aid commitments, is this an optimum use of resources or just a cacophony of voices all trying to pull t

16 September 2005 | At Issue

Rights

Analysis

World Bank support for extractives: complicity in human rights violations

Refers to the Bank's failure to adequately and explicitly address human rights in its policies, as well as the causality between Bank supported extractive projects and the exacerbation of conflict. Looks at case studies from Democratic Republic of Congo, Guatemala and Chad and Camerooon.

12 September 2005

Social services

Analysis

Secretive World Bank tribunal confronts calls to open up

Civil society groups are backing official calls for reform of the World Bank's International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes - however, the future of the reforms looks uncertain due to resistance from developing countries.

13 June 2005 | Briefings