Sometimes it isn't the money that the Bank provides that is the most important kind of assistance. Often it's the technical skill and experience the Bank staff bring to a project or the environmental and social standards they apply. The World Bank is one of the largest centers for research and analysis in the area of development economics, which includes the study of poverty, trade, globalization, and the environment.
The Millennium Development Goals identify--and quantify--specific gains that can be made to improve the lives of the world's poor people. The aim is to reduce poverty while improving health, education, and the environment. These goals were endorsed by 189 countries at the September 2000 U.N. Millennium General Assembly in New York. They provide a focus for the efforts of the World Bank Group, other multilateral organizations, governments, and other partners in the development community--a focus on significant, measurable improvements.
Similarities between them do little to resolve the confusion. Superficially the Bank and IMF exhibit many common characteristics. Both are in a sense owned and directed by the governments of member nations. The People's Republic of China, by far the most populous state on earth, is a member, as is the world's largest industrial power (the United States). In fact, virtually every country on earth is a member of both institutions.
The Bank is a major borrower in the world's capital markets and the largest nonresident borrower in virtually all countries where its issues are sold. It also borrows money by selling bonds and notes directly to governments, their agencies, and central banks. The proceeds of these bond sales are lent in turn to developing countries at affordable rates of interest to help finance projects and policy reform programs that give promise of success.
The world needs an international development agency. I don't think anybody really thinks that one should get rid of the World Bank. Reform is one thing, but getting rid of it I think would be wrong.
Should America continue to insist on controlling the selection process, it is the Bank itself that would suffer. For years, the Bank’s effectiveness was compromised because it was seen, in part, as a tool of Western governments and their countries’ financial and corporate sectors. Ironically, even America’s long-term interests would be best served by a commitment – not just in words, but also in deeds – to a merit-based system and good governance.
To measure the development effectiveness of the operations the Bank supports, the Bank and its borrowers must find out how these operations actually affect people. To do this reliably, one must consider the views of all groups of people affected. Groups affected by a development project included the intended and unintended beneficiaries, those who bore the costs of the project, the borrow and its agents, the Bank, co-financiers, and others.
In late March 2012, President Obama nominated Jim Yong Kim, the president of Dartmouth College and a global health expert, to replace Robert Zoellick, who had been the choice of President George W. Bush, when his term ends in June. The bank formally selected Dr. Kim in April. The vote continued the longstanding tradition of an American leading the Washington-based development institution, although the bank’s board had, for the first time, considered more than one candidate, a reflection of the increasing clout of emerging-market nations on the global stage.
The IMF and World Bank have been empowered by the governments which control it (led by the U.S., the U.K., Japan, Germany, France, Canada, and Italy -- the "Group of 7," which holds over 40% of the votes on their boards) with imposing economic austerity policies in the countries of the so-called "Third World" or "global South." Once Southern countries build up large external debts, as most have, they cannot get credit or cash anywhere else and are forced to go to these international institutions and accept whatever conditions are demanded of them.
The Boards of Directors consist of the World Bank Group President and 25 Executive Directors*. The President is the presiding officer, and ordinarily has no vote except a deciding vote in case of an equal division. The Executive Directors as individuals cannot exercise any power nor commit or represent the Bank unless specifically authorized by the Boards to do so.
What is generally known as the World Bank consists of two institutions with different lending programs: the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), and the International Development Association (IDA). The IBRD provides about two-thirds of total loans to middle-income countries at near-market interest rates. IDA provides the remaining loans at very low interest rates to low-income countries.
The World Bank and the IMF were both established in 1944 at a conference of world leaders in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, with the aim of placing the international economy on a sound footing after World War II. As a result of their shared origin, the two entities--the IMF and the expanded World Bank Group--are sometimes referred to collectively as the Bretton Woods institutions. The Bank Group and the IMF work closely together, have similar governance structures, have a similar relationship with the U.N., and are headquartered in close proximity in Washington, D.C.
The unit of account for evaluation has thus shifted from individual projects to entire country assistance programs
and global development initiatives. While maintaining focus on portfolio management and follow−up, the new
approach places evaluation within the context of the Bank's shift from a lending to a full−service institution, and
of a new strategic compact emphasizing better results on the ground in partnership with borrowers and other