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The World Bank and Its Dreams

How far does the World Bank have to go to achieve a world without poverty?

September 26, 2000

How far does the World Bank have to go to achieve a world without poverty?

For its aspirations, the World Bank takes its cudos from Martin Luther King. “Our dream is a world without poverty.”, says its motto. And yet, the Washington-based institution keeps prompting protests over its policies. That is evidently a sad state of affairs for the organization with the world’s largest corps of development experts. Our new Globalist Factsheet takes a close look at the institution and its contributions in the global economy.

Just how is poverty still a pressing a problem today?

Of the world’s six billion people, 2.8 billion live on less than $2 a day — and 1.2 billion live on less than $1 a day.

(World Bank, 2000)

How important is the World Bank with its loans and grants compared to the role of private markets?

Since 1992, the private sector has invested $1.45 trillion in developing countries. By contrast, the World Bank has provided $18 billion — or a little more than 1% of the total.

(Euromoney, 2000)

Does the World Bank focus too much on infrastructure projects — and not enough on poverty alleviation programs?

Back in 1980, the energy sector accounted for 20% of World Bank lending, while lending for education, health, nutrition and social safety nets made up only 5% of the total.

However, as of 2000, these social programs made up 25% of total lending — and only 2% of total lending goes to the energy sector.

(The International Economy, 2000)

What is the World Bank doing to fight the AIDS epidemic?

Over the past 12 years, the World Bank has spent a total of $340 million to combat AIDS in the world’s poorest countries.

On average, that is equal to $28 million per year — or about five cents per year for each person in Africa.

(National Economists Club, 2000)

Where does the World Bank deploy its staff — on the frontlines or in its headquarters in Washington?

As of May 2001, the World Bank has 6.440 staff members based in Washington, D.C. — and 2.105 in the field.

(World Bank, 2001)

The World Bank’s headquarters in Washington, D.C., uses as much electricity in a year as all of the 7.5 million citizens of Chad.

(Wall Street Journal, 2000)

Is it fair to say of the World Bank that “what the United States wants, the United States gets?

In May 2000, over U.S. objections, the World Bank approved the first loans to Iran since 1993 — a $232 million aid package for basic health and nutrition programs.

(Washington Post, 2000)

Which country received the World Bank’s first loan?

In 1947, France received the World Bank’s first-ever loan — of $1.6 billion (in 1998 dollars) — to finance post-war reconstruction.

(World Bank, 1999)

If post-war Europe was the largest recipient of aid 50 years ago, who are the largest recipients today?

Since 1992, 11 countries were recipients of 70% of total World Bank capital flows. The remaining 145 developing countries obtained 30%. (Euromoney, 1999)

And in 1999, Argentina surpassed China to become the World Bank’s largest borrower.

(Bloomberg, 2000)

Why does the World Bank focus so much of its resources on so few countries?

The same eleven countries that account for 70% of the World Bank’s resources are also home to about 60% of the world’s poorest people. (World Bank, 2000)

Are the protests against the World Bank a recent phenomenon?

In 1999, only 25 people showed up to protest at the IMF and World Bank spring meetings in Washington, D.C.

As many as 50,000 demonstrators attended the Annual Meeting of the IMF and World Bank in Prague in September 2000. (Washington Post, 2000)

September 26, 2000
Updated August 9, 2001