18 February

Kathmandu, Nepal

Presentation of the book World Bank: A Critical History by Eric Toussaint published in 2023 by Pluto Press (London)

When : February 18th 2024, 11:30AM – 13:00 PM Nepali Time
Where : Kathmandu World Social Forum

Eighty years ago, in 1944, the Bretton Woods Conference ushered in a new international economic order. 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, 189 members in 2017), 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.

emerged as one of the most powerful financial institutions in the world, and a new colonial authority in all but name. But how does it operate, who funds it, and what agenda does it work to promote?

In The World Bank: A Critical History, Eric Toussaint answers all of these questions and more. Offering up a highly readable yet uniquely authoritative account, the book analyses the World Bank from its beginnings to the present day. Chapters on gender, climate and the pandemic era complement the peerless research that informed Toussaint’s 2007 classic, The World Bank: A Critical Primer, and provide the reader with a truly contemporary, definitive text.

Seven international case studies illustrate the impact of World Bank policy, and Toussaint also explores the political, economic and strategic motives of the US government with regard to the World Bank. The book concludes with a proposal for replacing the World Bank, IMF 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
and WTO WTO
World Trade Organisation
The WTO, founded on 1st January 1995, replaced the General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs (GATT). The main innovation is that the WTO enjoys the status of an international organization. Its role is to ensure that no member States adopt any kind of protectionism whatsoever, in order to accelerate the liberalization global trading and to facilitate the strategies of the multinationals. It has an international court (the Dispute Settlement Body) which judges any alleged violations of its founding text drawn up in Marrakesh.

with new, multilateral and democratic institutions.

This book has been published in French, English, Spanish, Arabic, Indonesian and Japanese.

Endorsements

- Carlos Marichal, El Colegio de México: ’Superior … a broad ranging guide that explains the global power structure over the last eight decades. The history of the World Bank and its frequent support of dictatorships in the Global South clarifies the nexus between high finance and power politics.’

- James K. Galbraith, author, ’Welcome to the Poisoned Chalice: The Destruction of Greece and the Future of Europe’: ’The World Bank’s many critics usually urge institutional redemption through reforms. In this harsh and thorough indictment, Eric Toussaint blasts those hopes. Covering the history of the Bank from its early days as a prop to European colonialism through the Rwandan genocide, the Washington Consensus and the Iraq war, he argues that the Bank is incorrigible and should, therefore, be abolished. Read and judge for yourselves.’ -

- Andrés Solimano, founder, International Center for Globalization and Development: ’The record of lending to authoritarian regimes … invites fresh thinking on the need to streamline human rights considerations into development lending. Recommended reading to get a different view of the Bretton Woods institutions.’

- Michael Roberts, Economist and co-author of ’Capitalism in the 21st Century: ’’Eric Toussaint’s book could not be more opportune as the world enters a dangerous period of potential geopolitical conflict. Toussaint exposes, with chapter and verse, the role of the World Bank (and other ’Bretton Woods institutions) as tools for the financial control of the world - in particular, the exploitation of the Global South through the manipulation of debt. The World Bank is found not to be a great institution to reduce global poverty, but on the contrary, to perpetuate it.’

- ’Counterfire’: ’Éric Toussaint’s detailed and powerful indictment of the World Bank emerges at a vital time. It should be read by all who want to challenge domination and exploitation and contribute to the struggle for global justice.’

Speakers: Eric Toussaint (CADTM international)

Patrick Bond Bond A bond is a stake in a debt issued by a company or governmental body. The holder of the bond, the creditor, is entitled to interest and reimbursement of the principal. If the company is listed, the holder can also sell the bond on a stock-exchange. (South Africa)

Amali Wedagedara (Sri Lanka)

Solange Koné (CADTM Africa, World March of Women, Forum National sur les Stratégies Economiques et Sociales ( FNSES) - Ivory Coast - Côte d’Ivoire)


Translation(s)

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