In This Review

The Multilateral Development Banks: Titans or Behemoths?
The Multilateral Development Banks: Titans or Behemoths?
By Roy Culpeper
Lynne Rienner, 1997, 191 pp

A relatively specialized but useful book on an important group of financial institutions -- the regional multilateral development banks. MDBS are attacked these days by both the political right, which claims they are unnecessary and even do damage by encouraging centralized planning, and the political left, which claims they favor indigenous elites and deepen poverty. Culpeper rejects both contentions. He believes the MDBS continue to play a useful, indeed necessary role in the world, but that their orientation and performance can be improved. More emphasis needs to be placed on the quality of loans, less on the quantity (and the related notion of resource transfer), and the focus should be on outputs, not inputs. That may well call for lower levels of lending, at least in the near future. He approves of the reorientation of most MDBS in the early 1990s toward reducing absolute poverty but argues practice can be brought into better alignment with the new principle. This is a thoughtful and informative book.