Debt, the IMF, and the World Bank: Sixty Questions, Sixty Answers

5 August 2010 by Eric Toussaint , Damien Millet

by Éric Toussaint and Damien Millet

ISBN: 978-1-58367-222-8
$17.95 paperback
368 pages
September 2010

Translated by Judith Abdel Gadir, Elizabeth Anne, Vicki Briault, Judith Harris, Brian Hunt, Christine Pagnoulle and Diren Valayden, with the collaboration of Francesca Denley, Virginie de Romanet and Stephanie Jacquemont

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As this fine study demonstrates, the debt that is strangling the world is largely an ideological fiction, devised in the service of wealth and power, without legitimacy or moral force. The authors unravel the layers of deceit and distortion that conceal the ugly reality with skill and precision, and provide an important tool for liberating the mass of suffering people who are caught in its shackles.
Noam Chomsky

An important, accessible, and powerful book. Toussaint and Millet provide an in-depth look at debt in the global south, including the origins of the debt, its impact on people around the world, and possible solutions. But the book is about much more than debt, as the authors explain the historical context behind the debt crisis, including the role of key players and the way in which debt is linked to foreign policy, war, corruption, and economic agendas. Toussaint and Millet provide a key intervention at a moment when we must all rethink the way the global economy should function.
Stephanie Luce
Associate Professor
The Murphy Institute, City University of New York

This excellent handbook on the Washington-based international financial institutions and the debt mechanism by means of which the Global South is subjugated is not only an indispensable tool for pro-poor anti-debt activists, but also a very useful synthesis that can and should be used in classrooms.”
Gilbert Achcar
Professor of Development Studies
School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London

This timely new book rightly proposes radical, pro-development alternatives to the current order of things, not least via calls for the cancellation of the illegitimate international debts made to developing countries. Critics of the global financial architecture and students and teachers of development economics will find in this important new book an empowering and accessible intellectual framework for their work.
Ilene Grabel
Professor of International Economics
Josef Korbel School of International Studies
University of Denver

Éric Toussaint is one of the brightest and most influential economists of his generation. He is the founder of the CADTM, and has gained a worldwide reputation for his exemplary struggle against the ‘odious debt’ strangling countless countries in the South.
Jean Ziegler
former UN Special Rapporteur

Mainstream economists tell us that developing countries will replicate the economic achievements of the rich countries if they implement the correct “free-market” policies. But scholars and activists Toussaint and Millet demonstrate that this is patently false. Drawing on a wealth of detailed evidence, they explain how developed economies have systematically and deliberately exploited the less-developed economies by forcing them into unequal trade and political relationships. Integral to this arrangement are the international economic institutions ostensibly created to safeguard the stability of the global economy—the International Monetary Fund IMF
International Monetary Fund
Along with the World Bank, the IMF was founded on the day the Bretton Woods Agreements were signed. Its first mission was to support the new system of standard exchange rates.

When the Bretton Wood fixed rates system came to an end in 1971, the main function of the IMF became that of being both policeman and fireman for global capital: it acts as policeman when it enforces its Structural Adjustment Policies and as fireman when it steps in to help out governments in risk of defaulting on debt repayments.

As for the World Bank, a weighted voting system operates: depending on the amount paid as contribution by each member state. 85% of the votes is required to modify the IMF Charter (which means that the USA with 17,68% % of the votes has a de facto veto on any change).

The institution is dominated by five countries: the United States (16,74%), Japan (6,23%), Germany (5,81%), France (4,29%) and the UK (4,29%).
The other 183 member countries are divided into groups led by one country. The most important one (6,57% of the votes) is led by Belgium. The least important group of countries (1,55% of the votes) is led by Gabon and brings together African countries.

http://imf.org
(IMF) and the World Bank World Bank
WB
The World Bank was founded as part of the new international monetary system set up at Bretton Woods in 1944. Its capital is provided by member states’ contributions and loans on the international money markets. It financed public and private projects in Third World and East European countries.

It consists of several closely associated institutions, among which :

1. The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD, 180 members in 1997), which provides loans in productive sectors such as farming or energy ;

2. The International Development Association (IDA, 159 members in 1997), which provides less advanced countries with long-term loans (35-40 years) at very low interest (1%) ;

3. The International Finance Corporation (IFC), which provides both loan and equity finance for business ventures in developing countries.

As Third World Debt gets worse, the World Bank (along with the IMF) tends to adopt a macro-economic perspective. For instance, it enforces adjustment policies that are intended to balance heavily indebted countries’ payments. The World Bank advises those countries that have to undergo the IMF’s therapy on such matters as how to reduce budget deficits, round up savings, enduce foreign investors to settle within their borders, or free prices and exchange rates.

http://worldbank.org
—and the imposition of massive foreign debt on poor countries. The authors explain in simple language, and ample use of graphics, the multiple contours of this exploitative system, its history, and how it continues to function in the present day.

Ultimately, Toussaint and Millet advocate cancellation of all foreign debt for developing countries and provide arguments from a number of perspectives—legal, economic, moral. Presented in an accessible and easily-referenced question and answer format, Debt, the IMF, and the World Bank is an essential tool for the global justice movement.

Éric Toussaint, a doctor in political science, is president of the Committee for the Abolition of Third World Debt, CADTM Belgium. He is author of A Diagnosis of Emerging Global Crisis and Alternatives, and The World Bank: A Critical Primer, among other books.

Damien Millet teaches mathematics and is spokesperson for CADTM France. He is the author of L’Afrique sans dette, and co-author with Éric Toussaint of Tsunami Aid or Debt Cancellation.


Author

Eric Toussaint

is a historian and political scientist who completed his Ph.D. at the universities of Paris VIII and Liège, is the spokesperson of the CADTM International, and sits on the Scientific Council of ATTAC France. He is the author of Bankocracy (2015); The Life and Crimes of an Exemplary Man (2014); Glance in the Rear View Mirror. Neoliberal Ideology From its Origins to the Present, Haymarket books, Chicago, 2012 (see here), etc. See his bibliography: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C3%89ric_Toussaint He co-authored World debt figures 2015 with Pierre Gottiniaux, Daniel Munevar and Antonio Sanabria (2015); and with Damien Millet Debt, the IMF, and the World Bank: Sixty Questions, Sixty Answers, Monthly Review Books, New York, 2010. Since the 4th April 2015 he is the scientific coordinator of the Greek Truth Commission on Public Debt.

Other articles in english by Eric Toussaint (367)

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Author

Damien Millet

professeur de mathématiques en classes préparatoires scientifiques à Orléans, porte-parole du CADTM France (Comité pour l’Annulation de la Dette du Tiers Monde), auteur de L’Afrique sans dette (CADTM-Syllepse, 2005), co-auteur avec Frédéric Chauvreau des bandes dessinées Dette odieuse (CADTM-Syllepse, 2006) et Le système Dette (CADTM-Syllepse, 2009), co-auteur avec Eric Toussaint du livre Les tsunamis de la dette (CADTM-Syllepse, 2005), co-auteur avec François Mauger de La Jamaïque dans l’étau du FMI (L’esprit frappeur, 2004).

Other articles in english by Damien Millet (45)

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Other publications in english :

  • Bankocracy
    30 October 2015 - Eric Toussaint
  • Preliminary Report of the Truth Committee on Public Debt
    18 June 2015 - Truth Committee on the Greek Public Debt
  • World Debt Figures 2015
    31 March 2015 - Eric Toussaint, Daniel Munevar, Pierre Gottiniaux, Antonio Sanabria
  • Citizen Public Debt Audit - Experiences and methods
    5 March 2015 - Maria Lucia Fattorelli
  • Bank of the South. An Alternative to IMF-World Bank
    29 July 2014 - Eric Toussaint

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