Behind the Development Banks
Washington Politics, World Poverty, and the Wealth of Nations
The World Bank and other multilateral development banks (MDBs) carry out their mission to alleviate poverty and promote economic growth based on the advice of professional economists. But as Sarah Babb argues in Behind the Development Banks, these organizations have also been indelibly shaped by Washington politics—particularly by the legislative branch and its power of the purse.
Tracing American influence on MDBs over three decades, this volume assesses increased congressional activism and the perpetual “selling” of banks to Congress by the executive branch. Babb contends that congressional reluctance to fund the MDBs has enhanced the influence of the United States on them by making credible America’s threat to abandon the banks if its policy preferences are not followed. At a time when the United States’ role in world affairs is being closely scrutinized, Behind the Development Banks will be necessary reading for anyone interested in how American politics helps determine the fate of developing countries.
Chapter 1. The Banks and Their Shareholders
Chapter 2. The Congressional Revolt
Chapter 3. The Reagan Revolution
Chapter 4. Disciplining the Banks
Chapter 5. The Emergence of the Washington Consensus
Chapter 6. The Consensus Evolves
Chapter 7. The Banks and Civil Society
Chapter 8. Into the New Millennium
“In an era dominated by a world banking crisis and calls for transparency in government, Sarah Babb has opened the black box of ‘donor politics’: how international financial institutions are controlled by shareholder governments. Amassing solid evidence from myriad sources, she shows how Washington politics have shaped U.S. policies, which lead multilateral banks to tie loans to policy, in turn setting off debates among development experts. A brilliant sociology of political and policy history, the dark side of organizations, and global economic development.”