Crawl Across the Ocean

Saturday, March 19, 2005

What's the Difference?

Imagine for a moment that you are down on your luck financially. You have bills to pay and people depending on you and you just don't have the financial resources to do the things you wish you could. You've been to the banks but they've seen people like you before and they want nothing to do with you. So a friend tells you about a guy they know who deals in special cases. Lends when nobody else will. The catch is that borrowing from this guy isn't like borrowing from a bank. For one thing, if you can't make your payments you can't just declare bankruptcy to make him go away. And for another, if you're having trouble paying this guy back he's likely to come and make some friendly 'suggestions' for how you could do things differently and maybe sell off some of the stuff you own to make your payments. And these suggestions will be backed up by the unspoken threat of the harm which may come to the people who depend on you if you don't follow them.

So here's my question, is the scenario I'm talking about just some guy with a family who doesn't have a job and ends up going to the local loan shark and getting himself in even deeper, or is the scenario really about a poor 'developing' nation that gets lured into borrowing billions of dollars from the World Bank and gets forced into structural adjustments, financial crises or interest payments which exceed their health and education budgets when the loans don't generate the necessary return to repay them.

Which brings me to my second question - is there a difference?

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4 Comments:

  • I'm sure that Wolfowitz will bring nothing but integrity and caring to the offices of the World Bank.

    Poor countries take heart, for altruism is on the march!

    By Blogger Simon, at 11:34 AM  

  • That is why I'd rather starve then ever deal with a loan shark.

    By Anonymous Kim, at 3:49 PM  

  • I'm sure the new World Bank will be greeted as liberators.

    By Blogger Jon Dursi, at 5:23 PM  

  • "That is why I'd rather starve then ever deal with a loan shark."

    Yeah that's one of those choices where you have to find a third option, no matter what it is.

    As for Wolfowitz and the bank, that's going to need a post for itself.

    By Blogger Declan, at 10:44 AM  

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