Journal Issue

Books in Brief

International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.
Published Date:
December 1987
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Robert Cassen & Associates

Does Aid Work?

Report to an Intergovernmental Task Force

Clarendon Press, Oxford, UK, 1986, and Oxford University Press, New York, 1987, xv + 381 pp., $45 (cloth), $15.95 (paper).

This report, commissioned for the Bank-Fund Development Committee by 18 governments and written by an international team of consultants, answers its own question thus: “Most of it, yes; however…” (An overview of the report was published in this journal’s March 1986 issue.) While reaching “a well educated assessment” that most aid works, the broad conclusion of the various studies in this compilation of experience in seven countries, together with assessments of the role of aid and donor agencies, is that the aid process needs to be improved. A more open discussion of the failures of aid would help prevent future problems from arising and sustain public support for development assistance. An important finding of the consultants was that in the combination of aid and domestic policies in recipient countries, the role of the latter was more important. No matter how well documented and presented, no report can be expected to alter radically the behavior of donors or aid recipients. But, this clear presentation of facts and opinions identifies critical issues in the aid process and should serve as a sound basis for future discussions on improving aid coordination and use.

Dick Wilson

A Bank for Half the World

The Story of the Asian Development Bank 1966–1986

Asian Development Bank, Manila, the Philippines, 1987, 392pp., $25 (cloth), $8.50 (paper).

This commissioned volume provides a well documented look at the origins and growth of the ADB. With the non-regional developed countries taking only a 40 percent share in the initial capital of the institution, the ADB became the first regional development bank that was designed as “an international partnership.” The bank has lent almost $20 billion since its birth, mainly for projects, leaving policy-based lending to its larger cousins such as the World Bank. It has also provided technical assistance to countries in the region and to other regional or smaller multilateral institutions, such as the Islamic Development Bank. The author provides a wealth of information on the personalities and activities that marked the ADB’s first 20 years. The critical comments are guarded, and problem projects are treated with polite brevity. In the end, the book serves primarily to report, often the ADB’s official view, with little outside commentary or analysis by the author that might offer the reader a preview of the next 20 years.

Merrie Gilbert Klapp

The Sovereign Entrepreneur

Oil Policies in Advanced and Less Advanced Capitalist Countries

Cornell University Press, Ithaca, NY, 1987, 244 pp., $27.50.

This book is an interesting contribution to the theory of the state and international bargaining theory. It applies these theories to the pattern of state control in the oil industry. The main question addressed is: Why did governments create state-owned oil companies? It then goes on to show the extension of the state’s role in the crucial oil sector. Klapp also compares state policies and control over oil companies during the period 1960–85.

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