IMF, World bank book rec.
September 3, 2005 11:02 PM   Subscribe

Anyone care to recommend a well written book or documentary about the IMF and World Bank written for a non-economist?

Not sure how to categorize this one. There should be a category called "new world order." I just watched Life and Debt, the documentary about Jamaica's dire financial perdicament, downloaded from Curious to learn more.
posted by mert to Law & Government (15 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I really found Globalization and It's Discontents by Joseph Stiglitz to be an interesting read. Stiglitz was a former chief economist at the World Bank and provides a lot of insight in to that organization and the IMF.
posted by Staggering Jack at 11:14 PM on September 3, 2005

I would highly reccomend Globalization and Its Discontents by Joseph Stiglitz. He is an economist, but writes this book for a general audience and assumes no economic training. Stiglitz spent three years as chief economist and senior vice president of the World Bank. He is also a Nobel Prize winner, teaches economics at Columbia and served for four years on President Clinton's Council of Economic Advisors. This book is a must if you are interested in the subject.
posted by sophist at 11:18 PM on September 3, 2005

Wow. Out of all the books, we had to pick the same one. That has gotta say something.
posted by sophist at 11:20 PM on September 3, 2005

Confessions of an Economic Hit Man.
posted by mediareport at 11:52 PM on September 3, 2005

Peter Griffiths, The Economist's Tale: a consultant encounters hunger and the World Bank is an excellent, sobering and highly readable account of what happens when free-market ideology meets grass-roots reality. (See also this Crooked Timber thread, How Economists Kill People, which is where I first found out about the book.)
posted by verstegan at 12:43 AM on September 4, 2005

Anthony Sampson, The Money Lenders, explains the origins not only of the IMF, World Bank, and the entire Bretton Woods financial system, but also banking itself. Truly fascinating book, and I found it easy to understand when I was freaking 12 years old.
posted by evariste at 4:21 AM on September 4, 2005

It goes from the origin of the word "bankrupt"-banca rotta (rotten bench), to the 16th-19th century rise of the merchant banks, to the investment bankers in the 20th century, to global conglomerate retail banks like Citigroup, Paribas and Chase Manhattan. It may be a 20 year old book, but you'll finish it understanding the world financial system better than most people who go to school for it. Seriously, I can't recommend Anthony Sampson's books eough, especially that one.
posted by evariste at 4:24 AM on September 4, 2005

As a measure of the quality of the book, I haven't reread it since I was twelve. That's thirteen years ago. I still remember the book vividly.

I'll shut up now.
posted by evariste at 4:25 AM on September 4, 2005

If you're into torrents/documentaries, you might wanna check out the PBS "Commanding Heights: The Battle for the World Economy" series. Also, on sort of a different, but similar track, the recent "Germs, Guns, and Steel" series, also on PBS, does a lot to explain the inequality in the world.
posted by ph00dz at 5:40 AM on September 4, 2005

I have to second both "Globalization and its Discontents" and "Confessions of an Economic Hit Man." Both are excellent. The latter is almost horrifying though.
posted by punkbitch at 6:53 AM on September 4, 2005

older, but still one of the best ones out there: Faith & Credit
posted by .kobayashi. at 7:24 AM on September 4, 2005

If you want more of a 101 news-ish documentary, you might like The New Rulers of the World with John Pilgert. it looks at IMF and World Bank policies by taking a look at what has been going on in Indonesia. It's a few years old but there are some good intereviews with IMF/WB honchos as well as analysis of how their policies directly affect the lives of people in countries that are on the receving ends of loans. Another one with more about life on the ground and less about the IMF/WB is T-Shirt Travels which is focused on the used clothing trade in Africa.
posted by jessamyn at 7:30 AM on September 4, 2005

A couple of contemporary accounts that are a little less hard on the IMF/WB than Stiglitz, etc.: Paul Blustein's The Chastening (bad title, good book), an account of the asian financial crisis, and Sebastian Mallaby's The World's Banker, about the tenure of former WB President James Wolfensohn. Both are written by financial journalists and are quite easy to understand for the non-economist.
posted by diftb at 7:39 AM on September 4, 2005

While you're at it, check out the documentary The Corporation.
posted by elisabeth r at 8:39 AM on September 4, 2005

Response by poster: Thanks for the suggestions. I'm familiar with some and not with others. You should all try to see Life and Debt, by the way--I think it's beatifully done.
posted by mert at 10:07 AM on September 4, 2005

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