world bank

Can the World Bank’s Doing Business Be Rescued?

In an interesting post about the World Bank, Nancy Birdsall of the Center for Global Development expresses two concerns about the future of the organization. First, she fears the effects of the seemingly endless process of internal restructuring – covered here, for example. Second, she fears that the World Bank may lose its ability to be an effective supplier of ‘global public goods’ in the 21st century.

One does not have to agree with her framing of the issue to see that one of the least controversial, most cost-efficient, and public goods-like functions of the World Bank is to produce internationally comparable data that can serve both as input into research and into policy discussions. The Doing Business project is a case in point, as my colleague Marian L. Tupy and I wrote last year:

In publication since 2003, Doing Business was inspired by academic research into the importance of sound legal environments for economic growth. The survey currently synthesizes expert assessments by roughly ten thousand contributors from 185 countries into a picture of the ease of doing business around the world. It serves as a guide to important requisites such as the costs of starting a business, obtaining permits, hiring and firing, and so on. The project thus brings together a large amount of data that either didn’t really exist before or weren’t comparable across different countries and presents them in a way that is easy to understand and use.

Following a controversial review last year, the report is undergoing methodological changes phased over several years. That makes comparisons over time more difficult.

Doing Business Under Attack

The Doing Business project is among the World Bank’s most useful activities – both for scholars and, more importantly, for policymakers who are interested in pursuing pro-market reforms.

World Bank Criticizes Corruption in Argentina, Then Awards its Government $2 Billion

According to the Argentine daily La Nación [in Spanish], the World Bank warned yesterday about “corruption, money laundering, inflation, indebtedness and nationalizations in Argentina.” Then the WB went ahead and approved a series of loans to the country for approximately $2 billion.

The Argentine minister of Labor said that the credits were “a good sign of confidence” by the World Bank on the country.

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