Archive for February, 2010

More than likely the World Bank is the least understood of our destinations. This post will begin with links to articles and information about the World Bank.  We will be visiting Jamil Sopher, Worcester Academy Class of 1961 and World Bank staff member for over 30 years. Jamil Sopher is a dual national (US and France), who spent his early years between New York City and Paris, France. He pursued higher education between 1961-68, receiving a Bachelor of Science in 1965 and a Master of Engineering (Electrical) in 1966, both from Cornell University and a Master of Business Administration (Finance major) from Harvard University in 1968. Between 1978 and 2000, Mr. Sopher was employed as a staff member of the World Bank. Until 1997, he served in World Bank Operations, reaching the position of Principal Financial Analyst.  In the mid-1990s, he oversaw Private Participation in Infrastructure-Bank partnerships. Under his leadership, the World Bank actively supported BOT/BOO deals for power, water supply and transport in the Philippines, Thailand, and Laos. Mr. Sopher was elected Chairman of the World Bank Group Staff Association late in 1997. He served in that capacity for two years. From January 1, 2000 until he retired from the World Bank in September 2000, Mr. Sopher served as Operations Adviser in the Quality Assurance Group. Since January 2002. Mr. Sopher has served as the quality adviser to the Bank’s Latin America and Caribbean Regional Financial Management Unit.

Jamil Sopher, et al. Effective and Transparent Governance of Public Expenditures in Latin America and the Caribbean (2009).

Mr. Sopher was instrumental in bringing hydro-electric power to Laos (click here).

Background on the World Bank

Conceived  at the Bretton Woods Conference in 1944, the World Bank initially helped rebuild Europe after the Second World War. Since the 1980s, the Bank has focused on poverty reduction around the world, a daunting task that has proven to be multifaceted (involving issues and concerns beyond economics alone, involving cultural and political concerns as well). For more on the scope and function of the World Bank, click here. For a detailed time line re: the World Bank (click here)

Current Issues re: the World Bank

Much of the debate and the tensions center around the different needs between “haves” and “have-nots” or national interest versus global cooperation. These seemed to be at the root of the stalled Doha Round Negotiations (click here and here.) The current economic crisis has sparked fears of protectionism–many historians and economists maintain that protectionism exacerbated  the Great Depression of the 1930s, and fear a similar trend will throttle the world economy. On the the Doha Round and Fears of Protectionism, click here. The current down-turn in demand world-wide is hitting poor countries hardest. On the global economic crisis and its impact on poor countries, click here.

Click here re: this image and data source

For anyone tempted to take the view that “these aren’t my problems” or “why should I care about poverty in Africa,” I’d suggest the book The Coming Plague: Newly Emerging Diseases in a World Out of Balance by Laurie Garrett (click here). She makes a compelling case for the interdependence of our world, and how poverty and poor health in one region (particularly Africa, home to many of the most lethal diseases in the world) poses a threat to people everywhere, particularly in the age of jet-travel and a global exchange of people and commodities. Of course, poverty and civil war have often gone hand-and-hand as well.


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