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Beyond the World Bank Agenda

An Institutional Approach to Development

Despite massive investment of money and research aimed at ameliorating third-world poverty, the development strategies of the international financial institutions over the past few decades have been a profound failure. Under the tutelage of the World Bank, developing countries have experienced lower growth and rising inequality compared to previous periods. In Beyond the World Bank Agenda, Howard Stein argues that the controversial institution is plagued by a myopic, neoclassical mindset that wrongly focuses on individual rationality and downplays the social and political contexts that can either facilitate or impede development.
            Drawing on the examples of Africa, Asia, Latin America, and transitional European economies, this revolutionary volume proposes an alternative vision of institutional development with chapter-length applications to finance, state formation, and health care to provide a holistic, contextualized solution to the problems of developing nations. Beyond the World Bank Agenda will be essential reading for anyone concerned with forging a new strategy for sustainable development. 



“Every year books, about the World Bank are published. Few make an impact beyond the moment, if at all. This book does more than make an impact: it sets the standard. Its power lies in 1) its historical analysis to place World Bank practice in context, and 2) a sophisticated yet accessible treatment of the economic analysis underlying World Bank practice, and 3) why that economic analysis is fatally flawed. And, most importantly, it indicates the way forward.”

John Weeks, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London

Beyond the World Bank Agenda will certainly make an important and novel contribution to the literature. Howard Stein puts forward an institutional approach to development, very different and more akin to the real world than the prevailing view. Commendable.”

Philip Arestis, Cambridge Center for Economic and Public Policy, Department of Land Economy, University of Cambridge

“Stein offers a critical review of the World Bank’s economic development policy agenda and its theoretical foundations—particularly on state formation, financial development and health policies. His institutionalist perspective points to pragmatic policy alternatives to such increasingly discredited Washington Consensus policies. This book is long overdue.”

Jomo Kwame Sundaram, UN Assistant Secretary General for Economic Development

“This book is dynamite. It blows to pieces the World Bank and the bogus economics it sold to the poor countries of the world. Professor Stein’s indictment of the World Bank pulls no punches, meticulously documenting the gross incompetence and dishonesty behind the World Bank’s failure to reduce world poverty. Stein’s mastery of economic theory is unmatched, as is his knowledge of world poverty, particularly in Africa. You must read his book.”

William M. Dugger, University of Tulsa

"A fascinating analysis of World Bank policies and lending, focusing primarily on the theory and practice of structural adjustment. . . . The historical aspects of the presentation are especially interesting, as are institutional details in the chapters on financial repression and health policy."


Table of Contents

List of Illustrations

List of Abbreviations



Part I. Reflections on the History of the World Bank Agenda

1. The Ascendancy of Economics in the World Bank, 1944–1979: From Infrastructure to Structural Adjustment

2. From Structural Adjustment to “Poverty Reduction”: Adjustment to the Crisis and the Crisis of Adjustment after 1980

Part II. Economic Theory and the World Bank Agenda: A Critical Evaluation

3. Economic Theory and Orthodox Reform: Critical Reflections on Structural Adjustment
4. Institutions and the “Missing Link” in the World Bank’s Strategy: Toward a Critique

Part III. Beyond the World Bank Agenda: An Institutional Approach to Development

5. Building on Lost Foundations: The Institutional Matrix and Socioeconomic Development

6. State Formation as an Institutional Phenomenon

7. An Institutional Approach to Financial Development

8. Transcending Neoliberal Health Policies

9. Conclusion: Beyond the World Bank Agenda



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