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The World Bank and the Gods of Lending Paperback – June, 2008

3.8 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"In this blistering exposé, former World Bank employee Berkman demonstrates how the World Bank's mission to 'alleviate poverty' has been derailed by corruption, a 'bloated bureaucracy' and mismanagement....His criticisms and prescriptions are clear and well-supported by scores of photocopies of internal memos and project documents....The book is a fascinating firsthand account of the bank's failures, and its case studies—notably sections on bank projects in Nigeria and the Gambia—make for a valuable and important read."

"Compelling and refreshingly direct. What World Bank officials typically refer to as "leakage," Berkman names theft, embezzlement, and corruption. Highly recommended for general readers; students at all levels; researchers and professionals."

"Recommended reading as a hard-hitting lesson on how not to run the Bank."

“Everyone interested in economic development and the alleviation of poverty in the Third World should study the cases that Berkman sets out—clearly documents the failure of the World Bank to operate honestly, efficiently and openly. Unfortunately we may extrapolate these cases to all the other international financial institutions as well.

“World Bank documents versus reality are a real shocker. Berkman’s work shows the difference between what is reported and what is actually happening on the ground.”

“A long awaited expose of gross mismanagement and cover-ups…demands a fundamental overhaul of the Bank’s management and proposes realistic measures to curb corruption in its lending program.”

“Exposing the curse of ‘lending targets’ and the disappearance of billions of dollars, Berkman points to the Bank’s bureaucratic mismanagement and lack of courage by aid donors as they shamelessly foster a lending culture that enriches corrupt government elites while keeping the poor mired in poverty.”

“A timely and important contribution to policy makers and scholars concerned about the impact of corruption upon economic development.”

"As a World Bank task manager, Berkman spent years in the trenches fighting to prevent the theft of Bank loans by corrupt officials in developing countries. As he demonstrates, it was a battle the Bank had no interest in pursuing despite its claims that it takes corruption seriously and that outsiders and critics don't know the real story. Now with this book we have a critical perspective only an insider can provide. It is a passionate, informed, and devastating first-hand account from the frontlines of World Bank operations. Students, development professionals, and especially policymakers in Washington should read this book."

About the Author

Steve Berkman joined the World Bank’s Africa Region Group in 1983 following a varied career in industry and technical education. Providing advice and assistance with capacity building and institutional development issues on Bank funded projects, he worked in all the major economic sectors throughout the region. Retiring in 1995, he was called back from 1998 to 2002 to assist with the establishment of an Anti-Corruption and Fraud Investigation Unit during which time he was lead investigator on a number of corruption cases in Africa and Latin America. He has given presentations at various international anti-corruption forums and has provided assistance to the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations for the enactment of legislation to reform the multi-lateral development banks and Senate passage of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Kumarian Press (June 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1565492595
  • ISBN-13: 978-1565492592
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.6 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,896,737 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By L. Geri on July 13, 2009
Format: Paperback
This is a decent book on a relatively narrow topic, corruption within the World Bank. The author's thesis: the Bank developed a "approve projects and loans at any cost" culture which caused it to lose sight of how funds (billions of dollars worth) have actually been used in many recipient countries. Much of the loaned money, he asserts, was extracted by corrupt individuals and wasted, contributing nothing to development. Much of the book is rather repetitive, as he documents multiple cases of corruption. He was in a position to do this as a Bank employee so these insights are worthwhile, but he drives the point into the ground.

Other sections of the book take on the Bank's overreliance on economists and economics as a means of making sense of the complex process of "development," its highly bureaucratic nature, as well as the Bank's limited and rather grudging acceptance under President James Wolfensohn that corruption is an enormous obstacle to development. These are worthwhile insights but receive only limited attention, which is unfortunate.

The book does not provide enough background on the history, structure and mission of the World Bank. It badly needed an initial chapter that put his accusations in some context. If you aren't already familiar with the differences between the two main arms of the Bank, the IBRD and IDA, for example, you'll need to do some background research. Also, Berkman makes very broad claims about the extent of corruption influencing the Bank and its loans, but his examples are from Africa. That weakens his case. A consistent theme in the book is his irritation that as a non-economist he was relatively powerless in the Bank's economist-dominated power structure.
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Format: Paperback
Globalization has lead to the formation of a World Bank but how has such a venture turned out? "The World Bank and the Gods of Lending" is a thorough and scholarly examination of the acts of the World Bank. Looking at its history of loans and how it has spent its money, Berkman shows a story that tells of the corruption and mismanagement of this goliath of economics. Drawn from actual world bank reports and his own experience as a bank employee, the tale is quite shocking and saddening. "The World Bank and the Gods of Lending" is a look at how bad mismanagement can be.
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Format: Paperback
In The World Bank and the Gods of Lending, the veteran corruption fighter Steve Berkman explains in stunning detail how government officials milk billions of dollars from World Bank loans and credits every year. His account summarizes insights from 16 years spent inside the institution, and combines number crunching with vivid detail and moral outrage.

The World Bank management is aware of what is happening, but looks the other way. Or more to the point, it engages in a game of smoke and mirrors to hide the fact that it continues to go about its main business - pushing money out the door even to the most corrupt governments.

The Gods of Lending elaborates some side issues which are at times interesting, at times rather lengthy. Yet Berkman's analysis and illustration of how to steal millions from the World Bank are essential reading for anybody interested in the political economy of international financial institutions and development aid.

For a full review of this new book, visit [...]
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