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Book Notices

Author(s):
International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.
Published Date:
March 1967
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• Mikesell, Raymond F., Public International Lending for Development, New York, U.S.A., Random House, 1966 x + 244 pp., $4.95 (hardbound) or $2.45 (paperback); • Fried-mann, Wolfgang G., George Kalmanoff, and Robert F. Meagher, International Financial Aid, New York, U.S.A., Columbia University Press, 1966, xiv + 498 pp., $13.75; • Little, I.M.D., and J.M. Clifford, International Aid: A Discussion of the Flow of Public Resources from Rich to Poor Countries, Chicago, 111., U.S.A., Aldine Publishing Company, 1966, 302 pp., $7.50.

THESE THREE very different books each add significantly to the literature on development. The first is a careful, unexciting monograph in the best tradition of descriptive economic scholarship; the second is a fine example of the American team-research-cum-case-studies school; and the third is in the tradition of provocative generalization, without much concern about how things are actually done.

Raymond Mikesell’s carefully titled Public International Lending for Development is a new demonstration of his noted ability to absorb an enormous amount of raw material and then interpret it in readable prose. For the job it wanted done, the Ford Foundation, which supported the research, picked the right man. Unlike some others writing in this field. Mr. Mikesell, Professor of Economics at the University of Oregon, understands what development finance is about, how it is handled, and what the operational problems are. He is not lured off the track by interesting theoretical but irrelevant problems that fascinate other writers. Nobody could be misled about the main trends and institutions involved in the international development effort by reading this book. It should be assigned reading for the junior professionals of all countries who are starting to work in the “aid” business.

Mikesell’s book is addressed to students and young practitioners. There are many points that old professionals will agree with—for instance, he recognizes that the International Development Association (IDA) was not something forced upon a reluctant World Bank but rather an agency created on Bank initiative. There is not much to arouse controversy, or denunciation, on the issues that divide professionals. Mikesell is carefully eclectic. But professionals will approve of this book because it is a rare example of a study of development finance by an “outsider” who clearly understands the matter.

International Financial Aid is written for professionals, and I hope many of them read it. The claim on the dust jacket that it is “the first comprehensive and objective study of the world’s major foreign aid programs” is probably not exaggerated. For one thing, at last we are given a careful evaluation of India’s three big Third Plan steel projects and the way in which they were financed. If there are faults here, one is that the three authors do not make enough of the Russian insistence at Bilhai on massive supervision of operations and training of Indian technical personnel, as contrasted to the British and German procedures. Also missing is at least a footnote on the expansion programs of India’s private steel companies, supported by the World Bank, which is another part of the Third Plan.

But these are minor defects. The book is a must for anyone who purports to have views about the problems of international development assistance. It covers the methods and policies of all the principal donor countries and institutions, includes eight highly significant case studies, and describes the main policy issues presently facing the international community.

International Aid: A Discussion of the Flow of Public Resources from Rich to Poor Countries is certainly the most interesting of the three books to aficionados of development aid. There are very salty criticisms of the U.S., British, and German “aid” programs, although the French program is treated with respect—even awe—and one does not learn much about its real current problems.

Professionals will enjoy Mr. Little and Mr. Clifford because they furnish a wide and pleasant field for intellectual jousting. But their book is marred by serious technical defects, mostly concerning financial matters. There is great confusion in several places because of the lack of distinction between commitments by international agencies to finance up to certain amounts and actual disbursements of funds. Some tables need much more qualification than they get. And the rather casual attitude toward financial arrangements is illustrated by the statement that the International Finance Corporation issues “bonds,” which it does not do.

The authors have a curious blind spot toward the international financial agencies active in the development effort. There are five references to the International Monetary Fund in the index. Not one directs the reader to facts about the Fund’s criteria for Fund assistance (surely relevant to development policies), the Fund’s role as an impartial judge of eligibility for balance of payments assistance, nor the close relationship between the Fund and the World Bank in the process of setting internationally accepted standards of legitimacy for the claims of member countries for financial support.

Despite these weaknesses, or perhaps because of them, the book is a provocative study which professional developers should read. It is, on the whole, pessimistic about the present prospects for early improvement in the sluggish flow of international aid, and about the admittedly unsatisfactory growth rate in much of the world. The sections on India, which a footnote informs us are the responsibility of Mr. Little alone, are superb and, unlike most of the rest of the book, convey a strong sense of reality.

Michael L. Hoffman

Mosher, A. T., Getting Agriculture Moving, Essentials for Development and Modernization, New York, U.S.A., Frederick A. Praeger for the Agricultural Development Council, 1966, 191 pp., $6.50 cloth, $2.50 paper.

AS A PRIMER for the neophyte and a basic review for the practitioner, Getting Agriculture Moving will be hard to beat. Although he intended this little book primarily for in-service training programs, the author points out that it could be used to good advantage by technicians, field workers, planners, administrators, educators, bankers, or anyone else who needs to acquire the basics of the process of agricultural development and modernization. He succeeds admirably in his purpose of providing the necessary foundations.

Mosher starts out by assuming no prior knowledge of the field on the part of the reader, and brings him along easily through increasingly involved aspects. Beginning with a discussion of the “elements of agriculture”—the production process, the farmer, the farm, and the farm business—he turns quickly to the factors affecting agricultural productivity, which he has divided into the “essentials” and the “accelerators” of agricultural development. Included among the essentials, without all of which “there can be no agricultural development,” are agricultural markets, advancing technology, locally available supplies and equipment, production incentives, and transportation. The accelerators include education, credit, group action, improvement and expansion of cultivable land, and national agricultural planning. Each factor is discussed in its turn in a separate chapter.

Expertly communicating his sense of urgency without artificial cries of alarm, Mosher lucidly spells out the magnitude of the problem and the conditions and complexities of rural development. Although the focus is on technological and economic factors, he never fails to consider the socializing aspects of rural communities. Concentrating on the farmer, both as an individual and as a member of social groups, he effectively points out the intricacies of modernization and the cultural barriers to its attainment.

In bringing out, simply and clearly, the wide variety of specialized activities and human considerations necessary to agricultural development, Mosher’s book performs a valuable service.

Ronald A. Krieger

The Eighth Annual Yearbook of The Far Eastern Economic Review, a supplement to the weekly Far Eastern Economic Review, The Far Eastern Economic Review Co., 401-406 Marina House, Hong Kong, 371 pp. (included in the regular mail subscription of HK$80).

ASIA TODAY, more than ever before, is a kaleidoscope: within its vast diversity, immobility rests side by side with dynamic social and economic change; high per capita output growth marches with near-starvation and stagnation; regional self-help and cooperation rub shoulders with corrosive and expensive disputation.

Hong Kong is the listening post—the great bazaar of Asia. And out of Hong Kong each week comes the lively and sophisticated English language Far Eastern Economic Review. It provides a continuing and incisive view of modern Asia. The eighth Yearbook of the Review has set itself the task of recounting “the events of 1966 in 26 countries of Asia, to place them in perspective and use them as a basis for a review of the prospects for 1967.”

Broadly, the latest Yearbook falls into three sections: the first recounts some of the more important trends of concern to the area during the year—especially in trade, aid policies, development and regional cooperation; the second surveys developments in the region’s major industries and commodities; and the third—comprising the bulk of the Yearbook—provides a well-documented survey of events and prospects in each of 26 countries.

In sum it is a publication of value to both the specialist and the generalist: an able blend of reporting and commentary on the Asian scene.

David Love

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