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The World Bank, state reform, and the adjustment of social policies in Latin America

This article ly affected by World Bank funded projects, once analyzes the principal points of the World Bank authorized by the board of the Bank itself. The agenda for the reform of national states in Lat- World Bank is formed by only IBRD and IDA, in America, between and , based on but has close links with the WBG, with the partial documents from the institution itself and the exception of the semi-independent Inspection specialized literature. Presented initially are some Panel. IBRD grants loans to countries with low relevant aspects of the history of the Bank and and medium per capita income who are consid- its configuration as a multilateral organization.

Af- tional financial market. Its operational reserves ter this, the renewal and expansion of the policy are called general capital and are contributed agenda of the Bank from the end of the s on- by member states in unequal proportions, and wards is looked at, based on the maintenance of can only be increased after negotiations between the macroeconomic adjustment, the promotion them.

IDA grants long term subsidies and credits of institutional reforms, and the fight against at low interest rates to poor countries with little extreme poverty. Finally, the central lines of the or no capacity to borrow in market conditions. While IBRD makes a profit and World Bank Group WBG , which consists of is financially based on the market, IDA depends seven organization with different mandates, po- on voluntary contributions from donor states to litical strengths, administrative structures, and survive.

The amount of each donor depends on decision making bodies. With the shattering ments of client states should or should not do in of overt US foreign policy caused by the Vietnam relation to economic policy and public policies War, Congress came to assume an increasingly in general. It is important to understand that all more vigilante role over bilateral, and afterwards client states have to be members of the bank, but multilateral, aid, finally reaching the World Bank.

This means that the In the s various legislative sub-commissions World Bank prescribes nothing for the richer were created, through which passed requests for countries with greater weight in the institution funds for the Bank in this case the IDA , open- such as the US, the United Kingdom, Germany, ing points of entrance for interests to influence Japan, France, and Canada ; to the contrary, it US contributions to the institution.

In the s, comes under much pressure from them, starting parliamentary activism created opportunities for with the US. Since then, Congress - more gotiated between the states. Based on an informal porous to external pressures and public opinion agreement in force since , the president of than the Treasury of State Department — has be- the Bank is always an American citizen indicated come the target of pressures which compete to by the US, normally by the Treasury.

The attributes of power which gave the Bank in the organization. The US was always the largest and most ordination of multilateral incentives in health, influential shareholder institution, exercising a education, the environment, etc. However, the Bank always worked in the interface between the fact that the Bank is part of the infrastruc- the political, economic, and intellectual fields, ture of the global power of the US forged in the due to its singular condition as a lender, policy post-war period does not mean that the institu- maker, and inducer of ideas and prescriptions tion is a mere US instrument; as a bureaucratic about what should be done in questions of cap- complex, it possesses its own corporate interests italist development.

For this reason, the Bank is and the means to ease US pressure. What is im- approached here as a political, intellectual, and portant here is to highlight that even US policy financial author. The relationship between the Bank and cli- Actually, it was and continues to be the object of ent states varied immensely, according to a se- disputes and bargains among various political ries of factors and circumstances.

Something and economic interests about the role of multi- important to highlight is that what is involved is lateral cooperation and development aid, oscil- a relationship and not a mere imposition, which lating between two extremes: on the one hand, implies considering the existence of a two-way support for the construction of the World Bank road between the parties To understand bet- and the international aid industry as a less po- ter it is necessary to problematize four aspects.

During the s, a series of decisions recon- From this results the second aspect, related to the figured the world economy.

Tensions in the inter- fact that the relationship of the Bank with states national monetary system made the maintenance is not limited to state agencies, but also involves of the convertibility of the dollar into gold in- civil society organizations and private corpora- creasingly difficult for the US. In response, the US tions. In third place, it is necessary to take into broke with the Bretton Woods monetary regime, account that states have very asymmetrical con- whose creation Washington had sponsored in ditions of negotiation, depending on the size of , through a sequence of measures practiced their economies and their level of external de- between In turn, in , together pendency.

For example, highly indebted poor with the second oil crisis, the US Treasury sharp- countries avidly depend on external funding and ly increased US interest rates. Combined with the have bargaining conditions that are absolutely liberalization of capital flows, the measure forced distinct from countries such as China and Brazil, the overvaluation of US currency and redirected which count on large international reserves and international liquidity to the US.

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American pub- national development banks with much larger lic bonds soon became the principal liquid asset portfolios than the World Bank. Finally, it should of the global economy.


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At the same time, Latin not be forgotten that the Bank is a social actor in American economies continued to have elevated the middle of an extensive network of relations external debts. In , the convergence of the of public, private, non-governmental, philan- second oil crisis with the radical change in US thropic, business, and financial agents which dis- monetary policy and the sharp fall in the price pute the directions, means, and the meanings of of raw material significantly increased the cost of development at a national and global scale.

Even the external debt of Latin American states. For of adapting, negotiating, and spreading the ideas this New Right in power, the recovery of eco- and prescriptions of the institutions, translating nomic growth and private profit passed through them in accordance with their own interests and the demolition of the Welfare State and the liber- priorities. In this sense, governments frequently alization of national economies11, The same occurs with the of certain states.

The expression designated a eral. Furthermore, since the action of the Bank new modality of loan that began in , a rapid is multiscale, the emphasis of its operations can disbursement aimed at policies and not projects. However, in , the tion was created in the Bank, which allowed the Treasury clearly stated that the World Bank was authorization of loans exclusively for health, an efficient instrument at the service of Amer- opening a very broad field of action for the insti- ican interests In fact — as would be seen later tution in the following decades Bank and other multilateral organizations for the Keynesians and development economists in gen- US, based on the recognition that these organiza- eral were replaced by exponents of neoclassical tion were actually instruments for the defense of monoeconomics.

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Anti-poverty programs were long term American interests that were too useful abandoned in the name of radical liberalization to be weakened or even dismantled1. At the same time, population. In the same of the administrative machine, the drastic reduc- year, the conductors of economic liberalization tion of subsidies for popular consumption, the in the region the Treasury, the IMF, World Bank, reduction of the per capita cost of programs, the Inter-American Development Bank, think-tanks, reorientation of social policy to primary health and members of the US congress evaluated the care and basic education as social minimums, results obtained and agreed on the ten most and the focusing of expenditure on groups in important economic reforms in the coming de- extreme poverty.

Washington Consensus

The modus operandi, baptized cade. Constructed on the rubble of the s, health and education entered the agenda Cold War, the consensus was soon converted into of the Bank through a confluence of factors. First, a transnational political paradigm16, centered on the emergence of the debate about basic human liberalization and privatization as universal pan- needs launched by the International Labour Or- aceas. In Latin America, new coalitions of power ganization in the middle of that decade, in rela- made feasible the election of governments com- tion to which the Bank sought to position itself, mitted to the neoliberal agenda in countries such constructing its own version of which needs were as Mexico, Venezuela, Colombia, Peru, Argentina, really basic.

The second was the incorporation of and Brazil. At the end of the , a ment occurred unequally in different countries Department of Population, Health, and Nutri- and went through adaptations during the s. A reform was prescribed which al combined compensation programs focused adjusted the functions of the state to its capaci- on the short term with renewed confidence in ty, which implied defining its legitimate role of economic growth and the trickle-down effect17, actions: guaranteeing macroeconomic stability, which could only be attained through neo-lib- eliminating any form of economic nationalism eral policies.

Brazil pension reform passes first hurdle in Congress

The conflict over the production price controls, subsidies, protectionism, etc. The fight against poverty was ry health , protecting property rights, conserving thus adjusted to economic liberalization. The report also recommend- of the role of the state in the economy. In turn, fulfilling tition between the public sector, companies, and these functions required maintaining the fiscal NGOs in the provision of goods and services; c adjustment and redirecting public expenditure the increase and diversification of public-private to priority areas the export of commodities and partnerships, above all in social policies, directly human capital , privatizing public companies, intertwining private agents companies, NGOs, outsourcing public services to companies and business and philanthropic foundations, etc.

NGOs, and liberalizing the capital account. Al- in the decision-making and implementation though the role of functions was minimum, there spheres of public policies. Multilatinas and the internationalization of Latin American firms Ruth V.


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Why did socialist economies fail? References Publications referenced by this paper. Financial crises and national policy issues : an overview Ricardo M. Astorga , Pablo , Ame R. Whither reform? Towards a new agenda for Latin America Joseph E. Economic reforms, growth and employment: labour markets in Latin America and the Caribbean J. Patrick Weller. Meanwhile, reflecting Latin America's relatively high per head incomes, along with China's low production costs, China exports a high proportion of low- and high-technology consumer goods to Latin America. This process of exporting natural resources to China and importing higher value added manufactures has produced large and growing trade deficits in Latin America for most of the past decade.

A similar pattern is evident in China's financing and investment role in the region, which has been centred either directly on natural resource industries in order to secure supply, or on associated infrastructure to facilitate transport.


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  5. But over the course of recent official visits, China has set out new priorities for engagement with the region via trade, investment and finance in priority sectors, including energy and resources, infrastructure construction, agriculture, manufacturing, logistics, and scientific and technological innovation. If implemented to their full potential, the plans, which set out to dramatically increase trade and investment while also altering the composition of both countries' exports, could have transformative effects for Latin America. Foreign investment is sorely needed to bridge this gap, given the region's public spending constraints.

    China also invested just 0. Importantly, China has placed a fresh emphasis on the role to be played by business.