A study of economic history and history of economic thought, this
book tells the story of the World Bank and its establishment as a
leading development institution. The end of WWII was a crucial time
with a new need for development interventions and policies. The World
Bank took on this mission.
The 1st general survey mission of the Bank to a developing nation
-the Currie Mission-was in 1949. It was a milestone for
Colombia’s postwar development and, for the Bank, a laboratory
for the definition of policies for developing countries. With the
Currie Mission as a case study, the book analyzes the complexities of
the Bank’s first steps towards economic and social development,
and helps the reader understand some foundational questions about
development that are still relevant today.
First, what is the intellectual basis of the Bank’s
activities? Paul Krugman has addressed this question referring to early
intellectual debates, which he called “high development
theory”. Using never-before used archival documents, Alacevich
places these debates in an interesting new light.
Second, what instruments could the Bank create to assist countries
in their economic development? At first, the Bank decided to follow
conservative financial policies and rejected the idea of social loans.
The Bank held this position until the 2nd half of the 1960s but was
faced with a growing disappointment within the development community.
Alacevich shows the reasons for this initial conservative approach.
The World Bank and the developing countries as they are today are
the result of their history of constant transformation and adjustment
to the ever-changing challenges of development. History shows paths of
development, and as such it should not be ignored by today’s
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