Re: [OPE-L] G20: Reform the IMF and World bank

From: Patrick Bond (pbond@MAIL.NGO.ZA)
Date: Mon Oct 17 2005 - 16:55:52 EDT

----- Original Message -----
From: <glevy@PRATT.EDU>
> but it's not at all clear which _specific_ reforms they are in favor of.
> Still, the fact that they are talking about reform -- even if it turns out
> to be empty talk -- might be seen as a response to pressures from the
> international anti-globalization movement?  Which reforms will they
> actually support?

Thanks for the warm welcome aboard Jerry and cheers to comrades I know in
this group of 89.

Ok, on this G20 story, it seems like a simple case of what they call
'voice'. In South Africa we've followed this closely because the head of the
Development Committee from 2001 until last month was our finance minister,
Trevor Manuel. His twists, turns and distortions on BWI democratisation were
hilarious. There's a lovely cult doccie, *Two Trevors go to Washington*,
which captures the farce of reform in a scene at a fancy luncheon.
Wolfensohn guffaws about how there's no chance for any change in the 15%
veto or US selection of the MD, until he's gone - and if he raises these
issues, 'I'm not sure I wouldn't quickly be looking for a new job'. The
camera pans to Manuel who is guffawing too. Watching the ruling elite laugh
teaches us lots. So in Monterrey in March 2002 and Dubai in September 2003,
the crucial sites for cracking voting bias, Manuel completely flubbed it: "I
don't think you can ripen this tomato by squeezing it".

Now reform is being put forward again in a very vague way, as the report
points out. Manuel now says that something might happen at the BWI's spring
'06 meeting. And there are still some gullible NGO types and journalists who
enjoy waiting for Godot. Just as telling is the riff in today's WB Press
Clips on Wolfowitz's China trip. It ends thus:

The China Daily (10/17) meanwhile writes that it seems to be a very
popular, convenient approach these days to compare China's rise to the
emergence of Germany and Japan after the 1860s. Those who like to make
analogy between now and the dark days leading up to two world wars say
that powers rarely emerge without sparking war and reshaping the
international system. The conclusion: there is a big chance that China's
rise will lead to, at best, troubles, or, at worst, bloodshed, the daily
argues. However, Paul Wolfowitz, the World Bank's new president, would not
subscribe to this argument. Since taking office, however, Wolfowitz has
worked to establish his image as a strong advocate of the World Bank's
anti-poverty mission, rather than a tool for US values. In Gansu, the
soft-spoken man spent substantial time talking with farmers about their
lives and expectations for their children. He also visited a village
Mosque and recited by memory Arabic prayers from the Koran. "The mission
of the World Bank is to reduce poverty and to promote economic development
and that's really what I want to stress," Wolfowitz said. "When it comes
back to the test of whether we (the World Bank) are doing our job or not,
it's whether we're promoting development, not whether we're promoting

(About a year ago, I did a WB 'fix it or nix it' article for Capitalism
Nature Socialism which I can send anyone offlist. Best antidote to myopia
about reform is a great campaign to take away the WB's money: )

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