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Patrick Bond

Should the World Bank and IMF be “Fixed” or “Nixed”? Reformist Posturing and Popular Resistance

by Patrick Bond

December 2004

Can the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) be reformed? If not, what does that mean for progressive analysis, strategies and tactics? Should “deglobalization”
be the overall approach, and if so, is defunding and decommissioning the Bretton Woods Institutions (BWIs) a feasible alternative strategy? Is the World Bank
Bonds Boycott a sufficiently powerful tactic? As the institutions turn 60 years old in 2004, it is appropriate to ask whether a civilized global society - especially the leading African social movements working on debt and finance, as well as environmentalists opposed to BWI projects and policies - should recommend retirement, in part because recent experience suggests that “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”

To be sure, several opportunities arose for institutional change, based upon internal processes and external pressures, since James Wolfensohn became Bank president in 1995. Some followed directly from the late 1990s legitimacy crisis of the BWIs, which was generally understood to combine the institutions’ global governance
“democratic deficit,” their continued reliance upon the “Washington Consensus” approach to public policy, the Bank’s ongoing orientation to controversial mega-projects, and both agencies’ failure to relieve Third World debt and
international financial speculation born of liberalized capital markets. Some openings were reflected in the 1997-99 tenure of Joseph Stiglitz as chief economist, while other catalysts included international, intersectoral commissions on structural adjustment, dams and extractive industry...

Patrick Bond

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