The Political Economy of the World Bank: The Early Years, by Michele Alacevich presents fascinating study of economic history by describing the most crucial time for development economics: the birth of the “third world,” the creation of development economics as a discipline, and the establishment of the World Bank’s leading role in development.
Using previously unavailable archival material, Michele Alacevich takes a close look at the years during which the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, known as the World Bank, turned its attention from reconstruction to development, having been upstaged by the Marshall Plan. He describes the “Currie Mission” to Colombia (1949–1954), the World Bank’s first general survey mission in a developing nation.
With the Currie Mission as a starting point and a case study, Alacevich analyzes the complexities of the Bank’s first steps toward economic and social development in poorer nations, and helps the reader understand some foundational questions about development that are still of great relevance today.
It illuminates how the choice between project and program financing matured within the Bank, how personal characteristics of the key players affected policies and outcomes.
Finally, The Political Economy of the World Bank: The Early Years is essential reading for anyone interested in the economic history of international development as a lens for better understanding current development issues. The study shines very important light on changing World Bank priorities, and on the practical experiences that shaped the early thinking of some highly influential development economists. These lessons have continuing relevance today.
The Political Economy of the World Bank: The Early Years
Stanford Economics and Finance