Trivial truisms

ECONOMYWIDE POLICIES AND THE ENVIRONMENT - EMERGING LESSONS FROM EXPERIENCE Mohan Munasinghe and Wilfrido Cruz World Bank

 
By M Raghuram
Last Updated: Saturday 04 July 2015

THE title is misleading and merely a guise for the World Bank's preoccupation with its "reforms" or its spearhead Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP). The book seems to be a product of the World Bank's made-to-order research industry with a common and predictable motive framework and outcome. It conceals a lack of scholarship, earthiness and reveals a conspiracy of silence on the recipe for disaster (sapping SAP) as in the case of Mexico's economic collapse. This is borne out by the documented reports including the latest - The People vs Global Capital of the International People's Tribunal which uncovers the displacement of 6.6 million Indians in the first year of SAP.

The book appears to be overtly infitienced by the modern panacea of management and the perspective of organisational behaviour which have tried to reduce macro-level economics to mere managerial economics. The plethora of case studies cited and discussed are interesting but offer no hint of the research status on issues or a scholarly discussion which would have made it more readable and useful.

A case study on Poland has nothing to say on the widely researched and debated experience of private versus state capitalism and private versus public section.

The USSR, the erstwhile leading communist economy, was notorious for its subsidised or highly artificial pricing of resources but singularly renowned for having relatively waste free environs unlike the West.

The gigantic wastage problem was created by the rabid use and throwaway culture of the West. Their sole and obsessive concern about market failures may lead to environmentally costly patterns of growth, we are told, while there's no reference or discussion about the greater problems and dangers of market "success".

The main findings and conclusions include the refrain of simplistic truisms like the removal of price distortions and promotion of market incentives.

Measures aimed at restoring macroeconomic stability will generally yield environmental benefits, since instability undermines sustainable resounis use. It is a nonsensical and obsolete truism, since environmental death being at hand is a belated realisation of stable post-War growth.

An Action_Impact Matrix devised as a Tool for Analysis and Coordination is the only practical part of the book. It's a consolidated summary of econornywide policy environment linkages listing findings of case studies in a consolidated matrix.

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