Germans, Gephardt defend WB

Doug Henwood dhenwood at
Thu Mar 16 08:44:33 PST 2000

[from the World Bank's daily clipping service]

GERMANY CRITICIZES MELTZER COMMISSION. Handelsblatt (p. 11) reports that the German finance ministry strongly opposes the Meltzer report's recommendations, particularly suspending long and medium term lending by the IMF. Moreover, the global membership of the IMF means it cannot just pull out of many poor countries. However, German Central Bank Vice-President Jurgen Stark says the IMF should stay out of long term lending and the World Bank should not be involved in crisis financing.

Meanwhile, Dow Jones writes that Wolfensohn also responded the criticism of a recent congressionally-appointed panel that called for the Bank to pull back from many of historic lending activities.

"To jump from the thought that poverty's bad, that people need to be accountable ... to closing the Bank in terms of global public goods and in terms of participation in areas such as Latin America, is, I think, just far too hazardous," he said. "I think there should be change and I appreciate the comments on change, but the Bank is changing. This is not the Bank of five years ago," he said.

Separately, in an editorial in the Financial Times (p.11), Charles Calomiris, a member of the Meltzer Commission, says the commission's recommendations for reform of the IMF, the World Bank and the regional development banks has come in for heavy criticism.

Richard Gephardt, the Democratic leader in the House of Representatives, decries it as "neo-isolationist". That is hard to square with the commission's proposals to increase funding for development bank programs and to cancel the debts of the poorest countries, Calomiris continues.

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