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The World's Banker: A Story of Failed States, Financial Crises and the Wealth and Poverty of Nations [Anglais] [Broché]

Sebastian Mallaby
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Chapter One

A TALE OF TWO AMBITIONS

On Friday, September 14, 2001, President George W. Bush led a televised prayer service in Washington's National Cathedral. He invoked the heroes of three days before: inside the World Trade Center, a man who could have saved himself had stayed and died beside his quadriplegic friend; a priest died giving the last rites to a firefighter; two office workers, finding a disabled stranger, carried her down sixty-eight floors to safety. We feel, said the president, what Franklin Roosevelt called the "warm courage of national unity." And he spelled out the next steps. "Our responsibility to history is already clear: to answer these attacks and rid the world of evil."

Meanwhile another memorial service was under way in another part of Washington. In what passes for the capital's business district, two blocks west of the White House, two thousand people gathered in the glass-fronted atrium of the World Bank's headquarters. In an institution with employees from more than a hundred countries, including a large number of Muslims, the attacks of September 11 had induced a trauma of a special kind. Along with the fear felt by everyone in Washington-that more and nastier attacks might follow soon-there was the fear that life in the United States would become less secure for people with Pakistani or Saudi or Afghan passports. And there was the fear-which only grew as the president's rhetoric evolved-that friends and family abroad could somehow find themselves on the wrong side of a new global divide-the side that President Bush now classified as "evil."

The World Bankers gathered in the atrium, where the walls rise, cathedral-like, thirteen stories above the marble floor to a roof composed of glass; and where, in place of the baptismal basin and Christian inscription, there is an internal lake fed by an internal waterfall, and a sign proclaiming, OUR DREAM IS A WORLD FREE OF POVERTY. The staff packed into this atrium, displacing the kiosk displays on work stress and business communication that often furnish its vast space, and watched their president face them from a stage: a silver-haired, barrel-chested, twinkly eyed man-a sort of Santa Claus without the beard and costume. "I am not a preacher and I surely don't represent all the religions here," the president began, "but in this room we have a microcosm of the world. We have one hundred forty nations. We have Christians and Muslims and Jews and Buddhists and Sikhs.... We as a family can be a light for each other and for our community and for the world, because we are charged with the most significant challenge of all: to relieve poverty, and to improve the lives of our fellow men, and give our children a chance for peace and hope.... Ours is a noble task," he added.

To relieve poverty and so create a space for peace: Over the next few weeks James Wolfensohn, who is more of a preacher than he allows, built upon this theme, offering a response to 9/11 that contrasted markedly with President Bush's promise to "rid the world of evil." In Wolfensohn's view, an understanding of the terrorist attacks began with the big picture: In a world of 6 billion people, half lived on less than $2 per day, and a fifth subsisted with not even a dollar. In the next twenty-five years, moreover, the world's population would swell by a further 2 billion, and all but 50 million of these would live in poverty-afflicted countries. Even if no simple link existed between poverty and terrorism, these population numbers surely meant something. In a world with so much poverty, you couldn't just identify a few pockets of terrorism and vow to root them out. Security lay in bringing the excluded in, not in dividing the world into two camps and rooting out the evil one.

In the past, Wolfensohn would say, you might have overlooked this link between security and poverty. For the fortunate fifth of the world's people, who lived in the countries with four-fifths of the world's income, it had been possible to imagine that a wall separated "them" from "us," that sheer distance-psychic, geographical, or otherwise-could insulate us from the billion people who lacked drinkable water, or the women who perished in childbirth at the rate of one a minute. But after September 11, it was time to realize that global poverty had global reach, whether because it created the failed states that nurtured terrorists, or because it incubated disease, environmental damage, and migration pressures. "There is no wall," Wolfensohn declared. "We are linked by trade, investment, finance, by travel and communications, by disease, by crime, by migration, by environmental degradation, by drugs, by financial crises and by terror."

If the rich world was going to get serious about fighting global poverty, there was no doubt that the World Bank would lead the effort. It was a presence in almost every poor country in the world, supplying around $20 billion in loans a year, for projects ranging from irrigation systems to anticorruption efforts, from AIDS control to a victorious campaign against river blindness in Africa. The Bank's money, moreover, was just part of its significance; more than any other institution in the world, it understood the complex web of influences that keep people poor, and it set the intellectual agenda for other development agencies. Its ten-thousand-strong staff combined raw brain power with practical experience of four continents. It advised developing countries on which problems they should tackle and how they should proceed, spreading the lessons from these efforts around the world, so that Madagascar might learn from Thailand or Tunisia. Every time the rich world's leaders confronted global problems-whether it was AIDS or female illiteracy or environmental pressures-they turned instinctively to the World Bank. Now, in the wake of 9/11, they were bound to do so once again, and with a new sense of urgency.

Reacting to the new challenge of terror, President Bush had invoked Franklin Roosevelt. In setting forth his own reaction, Wolfensohn was invoking Roosevelt as well, even though he never mentioned him.

The World Bank was conceived six decades before the terrorist attacks, in the teeth of another violent threat to American security. In December 1941, scarcely a week after the Japanese assault on Pearl Harbor, Roosevelt's long-time friend and treasury secretary, Henry Morgenthau, commissioned a blueprint for the postwar economic order. Morgenthau was incapable of designing such a thing himself-he was a gentleman-farmer, not a financier-so he turned to Harry Dexter White, a driven, brilliant Harvard PhD whose service was later rewarded with persecution at the hands of Senator Joseph McCarthy. White's brief was nothing less than to prevent another war, and to do so by forestalling the kind of economic storm that had brought about the current one. As Morgenthau put it a little while later, "all of us have seen the great economic tragedy of our time. We saw the worldwide depression of the 1930s. We saw currency disorders develop and spread from land to land.... We saw unemployment and wretchedness.... We saw bewilderment and bitterness become the breeders of fascism, and, finally, of war."

White's first priority was to prevent more such "currency disorders." The postwar economic system would be anchored by the gold standard, which would shield commerce from the twin evils of exchange-rate shocks and inflation. If this system came under pressure-if a balance of payments deficit exhausted a nation's gold reserves-a new international lender of last resort would bail the country out rather than leaving it to devalue. This new bail-out lender ultimately took shape as the International Monetary Fund, which today stands across the street from the World Bank in Washington, and which still fights financial crises from Argentina to Turkey. But White's creativity did not stop there. He also conceived the idea of a new public bank that would promote the rebuilding of Europe, so ending the "unemployment and wretchedness" that Morgenthau lamented. At first, the new institution's proposed name-the "Bank for Reconstruction of the United and Associated Nations"-made no reference to the plight of developing countries. But a member of White's team suggested that this bank could play a role beyond the reconstruction of Europe. In a memo circulated in November 1943, the words "and Development" were inserted after Reconstruction in the title.

Without World War II, and the extraordinary leverage that it afforded the United States, White's plans might have faltered. His main ally abroad was John Maynard Keynes, the preeminent economist of the time, who was then advising Britain's Treasury. Keynes agreed with the outline of the American ideas, but he disagreed on the detail. He took a dim view of White's proposal to convene an international conference to discuss plans for a new world bank; observing that forty-four governments would come, he warned of "the most monstrous monkey-house." But White insisted on the gathering, and Keynes swallowed his distaste: he knew that Britain depended upon American support, both economic and military. In July 1944, when the Allied forces had still not broken out of their Normandy beachhead, several hundred delegates convened in the sprawling Mount Washington Hotel in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire.

Even then, the creation of an international bank was by no means certain. The conference invitation proclaimed currency stabilization as the primary goal; creating a bank for reconstruction was a secondary objective. Keynes headed the commission charged with discussing the potential bank's design; he liked the idea of a fresh source of reconstruction funds for Europe, and saw no positive harm in lending whatever might be left to Latin America or India. After a few days of deliberation on whether the new creation might best be termed a "corporation" rather than a "bank," a drafting committee drew up the Bank's Articles of Agreement, opening the way for the long process of amendment. On the last day of the conference, the Soviet delegation demanded five changes-an affront that in retrospect seems doubly irksome, since the Soviets subsequently refused participation in the Bretton Woods institutions. But the Soviets were contained. The drafting was finished. And the conference ended with an agreement on a new International Bank for Reconstruction and Development to work alongside the International Monetary Fund.

The link between security and poverty had been stressed throughout the conference. As White said to his colleagues, "There is nothing that will serve to drive these countries into some kind of ism-communism or something else-faster than having inadequate capital." But White, like Keynes, was thinking of economic misery in Europe rather than in the developing world; at most, both men regarded development as a useful rationale for the Bank once reconstruction was over. In this, they reflected the spirit of their times. Poverty was even worse then than it is now: in India, life expectancy for the poor was twenty-five years, and 90 percent of the population aged ten or older was illiterate. But this was seen as a fact of life rather than an urgent challenge. In 1948, Paul Samuelson published the first edition of his classic economics textbook. It contained less than three sentences on development.

And yet, even in the 1940s, it was easy to see how time would soon expand the economists' horizons. The link between security and poverty logically applied to developing countries as well as the developed ones; and the statesmen of the time could see this. "The economic health of every country is a proper matter of concern to all its neighbors, near and distant," said the message read out to delegates at the start of the Bretton Woods conference; "there is no wall," it might just as well have stated. That message-a premonition of Wolfensohn's response to twenty-first-century terror-came from none other than Franklin Roosevelt.

James David Wolfensohn knew all about walls: he had spent his life crashing straight through them. He was born on December 1, 1933, and grew up in a modest suburban apartment in Sydney, Australia. His parents had emigrated from England during the Depression, and later helped to resettle the flood of fellow Jewish emigres who arrived in Australia during and after World War II. His mother, Dora, was a musician, and sang every week on the radio; his father adored music, too, and the young Wolfensohn took piano lessons. The parents lavished attention on their two children, and especially their son, who was ten years younger than his sister and so almost an only child. Wolfensohn remembers himself as "pudgy, a very fat little boy. I was indulged by my parents, spoilt probably, and I ate far too much chocolate."

This indulgence was mixed with something else-something that instilled in the young Wolfensohn a vast and raw ambition. There was a scent of disappointment in the home, of financial stress and thwarted aspiration. The young boy's father-Hyman Wolfensohn, known universally as "Bill"-was proud and intellectual and profoundly frustrated. Early in life, he had studied medicine in London, but his plan to become a doctor had been interrupted by World War I. Later he had begun a law degree, but was distracted from his studies by James Rothschild, a scion of Europe's great banking family, who hired him as his private secretary. Bill Wolfensohn thrived in the service of the Rothschilds, and accumulated enough savings to set off on his own; he moved his family to Australia in search of independent fame and fortune. But by the time his son was entering his teens, Bill Wolfensohn's quest had clearly failed. He had lost the money he had made in London, and had discovered how much harder it was to prosper when severed from the Rothschild name; the small business consultancy he ran made barely enough for the family to survive on. Cut off from his native Europe, Bill Wolfensohn brooded on the far fringe of the world. He lived in a state of financial worry, having rubbed shoulders with plenty. He rued his lowly professional status, having once aspired to join both the medical and legal priesthoods. He could not live his life again. But he was determined that his son should not repeat his errors.

Half a century later, Jim Wolfensohn still remembers the extraordinary paternal expectations of his youth. He was shoved through his early school years, jumping ahead two grades; when a famous tennis coach suggested that he interrupt his schooling to train for international tournaments, his father wouldn't hear of it. Somewhere in his mid-teens, the pressure grew too much; having entered Sydney Boys High School as a star student, he matriculated four years later with the lowest grades you could get while still qualifying for college. In his first year at university, he failed all his subjects and felt miserable.

--Ce texte fait référence à l'édition Broché .

Revue de presse

"A sophisticated, evenhanded take on the [World Bank's] last decade of development efforts... Illuminating... heartbreaking... a fascinating narrative." —The New York Times



"An excellent read... [Mallaby] has a talent for brilliant writing and penetrating analysis." —Financial Times

--Ce texte fait référence à l'édition Broché .

Détails sur le produit

  • Broché: 472 pages
  • Editeur : NewSouth Publishing (1 février 2005)
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ISBN-10: 0868408255
  • ISBN-13: 978-0868408255
  • Dimensions du produit: 22,6 x 15 x 3,8 cm
  • Moyenne des commentaires client : 5.0 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (1 commentaire client)
  • Table des matières complète
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5.0 étoiles sur 5 Le journalisme à son meilleur! 12 janvier 2012
Par gsour
Format:Broché
Incroyable somme de travail très documentée (des centaines de notes indiquant ses sources) sur les acteurs du développement économique, la banque mondiale, les ONG, les politiciens, les états riches, les pauvres et les moins pauvres. Une vue de l'intérieur en direct sous plusieurs éclairages par les acteurs eux-mêmes, petits et grands, et sans parti pris agaçant ou débilitant.

Se lit comme un roman alors que les sujets abordés sont plutôt arides ou abstraits pour la plupart des gens.
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Amazon.com: 4.2 étoiles sur 5  32 commentaires
27 internautes sur 30 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Surprisingly interesting and insightful. 17 octobre 2004
Par Gaetan Lion - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
This is a very interesting book with two main themes. The first one is a biography of James Wolfensohn, the President of the World Bank since 1995. The second one is about the inner workings of the World Bank, a not so well understood institution. The author covers both themes equally well.

James Wolfensohn comes across as a brilliant and irascible complex character. He exudes charm, vision, and eloquence in the outside world towards NGOs, other governmental institutions, States, and the Media. In this capacity, he is not unlike Bill Clinton. On the inside, he is a tyrannical, terrorizing manager displaying frequent tantrums to get the cultural changes and the results he wants from his staff. Here this boss from hell comes across more like a John McEnroe loosing it on a tough line call.

The author's description of the World Bank is equally interesting. At first, the Bank comes across as an autocratic institution which knows what is best for the country it lends to. Invariably, the solution to all the World's problem according to the Bank are mega projects where private consultants and Western companies make a ton of money, the Bank books huge loans, but the country in question can ill afford. Under Wolfensohn influence, the Bank has become more sensitive to the environmental and cultural impact of its financing activities. This is in part due to the Bank opening up a dialogue with NGOs. In this regard, Wolfensohn tenure at the Bank seemed to have been rather successful, as it has radically changed the culture of the Bank.

In view of the above, I strongly recommend this book. If you are interested about economics, institutions, and policy, I also recommend a couple of excellent books. These include "A Term at the Fed" by Lawrence Meyer. This book uncovers Alan Greenspan's management style, and the inner workings of the Federal Reserve (another not so well understood institution). The other book is the excellent "In an Uncertain World" by Robert Rubin, the brilliant former Secretary of the Treasury under Bill Clinton.
15 internautes sur 17 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 The World�s Banker 4 novembre 2004
Par Hites T. Ahir - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
Sebastian Mallaby, editorial writer and columnist at the Washington Post, has come up with a page-turner on the challenges of promoting development, as seen through the eyes of World Bank President James Wolfensohn. Many success stories of the Bank's work are described in fascinating detail. In Bosnia, according to Mallaby, the Bank played an important role in brokering a peace deal between Serbs and Croats and was successful in quickly providing money and expertise for the reconstruction. In Uganda, the Bank was flexible enough to allow a home-grown poverty reduction strategy to take root and to nurture it. But the Bank's failures are also described unsparingly. Mallaby presents a detailed study of how the Bank's condoning of corruption in Indonesia was the root cause of many of the country's troubles during the Asian crisis. He also says that the Bank late and timid reaction to fight AIDS "remains inexcusable."
The portrayal of Wolfensohn is likewise two-sided. Mallaby credits his "instincts as being ahead of his peers" on the need for providing debt relief in the mid-1990s and on tackling corruption. Wolfensohn is also recognized as being instrumental in pushing for greater country ownership of reforms and for the decentralization of the Bank through the relocation of most country directors to the field. At the same time, the book has candid descriptions of what Mallaby considers to be Wolfensohn's failures, for instance his tendency to share "credit with no one."
North-based NGOs come across in Mallaby's portrayal as the villain of the piece, Lilliputians who tie down the Bank and keep it from doing good. The NGOs, says Mallaby, have killed worthy projects by overstating the likely labor and environmental impacts and insisting on standards that developing countries can ill-afford. For example, in Laos "the environmental standards that the Bank proposed for a megadam project matched those of a country like Sweden; this was like telling the Laotians that they must not travel in motorized vehicles unless they purchased brand-new Volvos with passenger air bags."
Not all Bank failures are the fault of NGOs; sometimes, says Mallaby, the Bank cannot succeed because of lack of cooperation by the client. In 1998, the Bank wanted to execute an project to combat AIDS in Russia, but the country's health ministry did not want to acknowledge the problem. When the ministry came around, Russian pharmaceutical makers blocked the Bank, fearing that it would open the drug market to foreign competitors. Russia's medical establishment was also opposed as "hospitals had a large and antiquated infrastructure for treating TB, which would be rendered redundant by the Bank's modernizations."
Mallaby's sympathetic portrayal of the Bank contrasts with some of the harsh characterizations of other observers. In his recent book Why Globalization Works, Martin Wolf calls the Bank a "fatally flawed institution," whose source of "failures was its commitment to lending." Describing the situation when he worked at the Bank in the 1970s, Wolf writes: "every division also found itself under great pressure to lend money, virtually regardless of the quality of the projects on offer or of the development programmes of the countries. This undermined the professional integrity of the staff and encouraged borrowers to pile up debt, no matter what the likely returns." The Meltzer Commission, appointed by the U.S. Congress in 1998, made a similar charge in its report. Mallaby alludes on occasion to this pressure to lend, particularly to middle-income countries, but does give it the importance ascribed by others.
Mallaby presents shifts in the types of lending favored by the Bank as an example of its learning from experience. He notes that the Bank started with the notion that "infrastructure was the route to human betterment." Then it moved from building physical capital into building human capital by funding education projects, then from human capital into social capital by funding projects to improve the quality of institutions. And, very recently, as Mallaby notes, the Bank has partially reverted to its early emphasis on physical capital. Others put a less positive spin on the Bank's intellectual journey. For example, in his book The Elusive Quest for Growth, William Easterly-a former Bank staffer-treats the same evolution as a chase after fads that failed to deliver: "We thought that certain objects associated with prosperity in the industrialized world - dams, roads, schools - could bring success to the developing world. Later, fads changed to include institutional magical objects. Thus we urged governments to embrace democracy, constitutions, independent judiciaries, decentralization to local governments and other magic bullets. None of them worked."
While the book may not satisfy critics of the Bank, its accessibility and broad scope make it required reading not just for experts on development but for anyone with curiosity about global development, the Bank, and James Wolfensohn.
12 internautes sur 14 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Brilliant 22 octobre 2004
Par Emily Kerr - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
This is a wonderful book. It is really three stories. One is a story of how the West has tried to tackle global poverty, its failures, successes and U-turns. The other is a story about the West's principal instrument for these policies, the World Bank. Any large organisation, packed with interesting people, dysfunctional teams, and huge challenges will always have a good story inside it and this is no exception. The third is a biography of the leader of this organisation and his influence upon it. These three narratives, all interesting in their own right, are skillfully interwoven to produce a trully thumping read. A real page-truner.
5 internautes sur 5 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 A story of burning ambition 10 septembre 2007
Par Graham Cooke - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
A story of burning ambition. Make no mistake about it, James Wolfensohn wanted to be head of the World Bank. He desired it from the late 1970s until 1995 when he finally achieved his ambition, becoming an American citizen in a rushed ceremony to make himself more presentable to the political circles in Washington that always select the Bank's chief.

Biographer Sebastian Mallaby, a British-born columnist for the Washington Post and previously the Economist magazine, describes Wolfensohn as "the most ambitious man I know". He reports this son of a Jewish migrant to Australia was "beside himself with excitement" on hearing President Jimmy Carter was considering him for the World Bank's presidency in 1980.

Another 15 years would pass before Wolfensohn, who in a packed life had found time to be an Olympic fencer, Wall Street high flyer and accomplished musician, would get the job of his dreams. What followed was the most turbulent and controversial decade in the bank's history.

Mallaby asserts the upheavals were not all of Wolfensohn's making. He took over from a series of grey, uninspiring functionaries at a time when the anti-globalisation movement was beginning to get up steam. The Bank's 50th anniversary meeting in Madrid in 1994 was disrupted by demonstrators chanting "50 years is enough", denouncing its failure to address world poverty and demanding it be closed for good.

For the one-time Aussie, this was a challenge to be relished and Wolfensohn must have thought that at 60, he had accumulated all the worldly wisdom and experience needed to meet it. That he was to be proved wrong is not a total indictment of the man. There is nothing on Earth quite like the World Bank, a vast, rambling bureaucracy full of brilliant, often contending individuals, at the mercy of an overbearing board, each member with a special agenda, and besieged by non-government organisations full of passionate anger, demanding the impossible and denouncing every minor misstep.

The new man believed he could counter this with his chief assets, sincerity and charm. He could be everyone's friend, uniting donor countries, Third World governments and the plethora of non-government organisations who were his sternest critics, in one noble crusade to ban poverty from the planet. They were glorious, yet doomed ideals well suited to the man described by a colleague as "full of grandiose ideas but not much of a manager".

But was this such a bad thing? Mallaby believes that after a succession of uninspiring technocrats at its head, the Bank needed Wolfensohn's flamboyance and spontaneity, recapturing some of the pioneering spirit of one of its great presidents, Robert McNamara.

McNamara had wanted the bank to have a human face, Wolfensohn wanted it to go over the heads of grasping and often corrupt Third World governments and deal directly with those who would benefit from its loans. In the world of realpolitik neither was wholly achievable, and for Wolfensohn it was a tough lesson to learn.

He did not cope well with failure, and when a coalition of Tibetan activists, the environmental lobby and professional China haters in the US Congress scuppered the Qinghai irrigation scheme, he lashed out at his own staff. "Didn't they ever read the newspapers? Didn't they know that Tibet was supersensitive? - and he would summon people to his office and demand whose arse he should kick first. It was not an edifying spectacle..."

The US presidential transition, at the beginning of his second term, did not help matters. The new Treasury Secretary, Paul O'Neill, was openly contemptuous of the Bank and indeed the entire international aid structure, declaring the world had spent "trillions of dollars on development and there's damn little to show for it". O'Neill offered the startling argument that if South Korea had lifted itself from poverty to middle-class comfort in four decades, every Third World country should be able to do the same.

And yet the Wolfensohn-led bank somehow weathered these storms. After a late start it showed leadership in facing the AIDS threat; the more hysterical NGOs were eventually cut loose and their criticisms ignored, while some of the "Volvo-style" loan conditions, so irritating to many recipient countries, were eased.

Despite 10 years of obstructionism, bitter infighting and over-the-top criticism, the president never lost his enthusiasm for the job. At the end he was even testing the water for a third term - the Bush White House would have none of it - and he could count among his diverse friends and supporters United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan, the chairman of the Federal Reserve, Alan Greenspan, and Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands.

Mallaby does not come to any hard and fast conclusions about his client. He sees Wolfensohn as an indifferent manager, while giving him credit for broadening the Bank's agenda beyond macroeconomic policy to meet head on the problems of corruption and debt relief. He was able to bring the larger and more responsible NGOs on board but took a long time to realise that others "had no off switch".

The book finishes on an inconclusive note. Was Wolfensohn's presidency valuable? Did he do more harm than good? Perhaps in an increasingly complex world, with so many voices clamouring to be heard, there can no longer be clear-cut answers to questions like these. Suffice to say the World Bank survives and there are no mass demonstrations demanding that "60 years is enough".
6 internautes sur 7 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Changes Your View of the World 26 octobre 2004
Par John Matlock - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
During the current Presidential race I've heard a lot about the current world situation. But only about a very few places. We've heard about Iraq, North Korea, Afghanistan, and a little bit about a few others. But it's a lot bigger world than that. And at the middle of just about everything has been James Wolfensohn.

For the past nine years he has been president of the World Bank. He has become an almost bigger than life character and has molded this unweildy to fit his image. During these years there have been financial crises, the AIDS outbreaks in many of the poorist countries, the emergence of terrorists sanctuaries in states that have basically failed and an immense amount of corruption.

Formed as one part of a trio, along with the United Nations and the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank was to fund the re-development of Europe and Japan after World War II. As time went on, it became the lender of last resort to developing countries and in a perpetual tug of war between the left and right views.

Wolfensohn, is a brilliant, vain, well-meaning, short-tempered, self made multi-millionaire. He took over determined to remake the World Bank. He came up against a very messy reality of governments that didn't work, and problems almost beyond comprehension let alone solution.

The resulting book is an eye-opening presentation of the challenges and contradictions of the West's efforts to enlarge the world's wealth. Very well written, you will come away from this book with an entirely different view of the world. Excellent.
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