Article

Books in brief

Author(s):
International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.
Published Date:
January 1990
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Mexico’s Search for a New Development Strategy

Dwight S. Brother and Adele E. Wick (editors)

Westview Press, Boulder, CO, USA, 1990,378 pp., $39.95.

Since the oil price shock of the early 1980s, there has been a significant restructuring of the Mexican economy, which is, in many ways, unique. The fiscal turnaround, trade liberalization, and privatization reforms have often gone further than Mexico’s external financiers and advisors could have hoped for. The papers in this edited volume, presented at a conference at Yale University, have been written by academics and policymakers in Mexico. The authors describe clearly and concisely the weakness of the previous development strategy, point out the move toward a new strategy, and analyze its political economy ramifications. Mexico’s debt problem is discussed in detail, highlighting the role of the debt overhang in retarding economic growth. The papers nicely lead up to the recently negotiated debt settlement between Mexico and its creditors. The analyses lend credibility to the optimistic view that robust growth will be the outcome of this long and painful process, and that the living standards of the poor and the middle class in Mexico, who have suffered for so long and with such patience, will improve.

Race to Save the Tropics

Robert Qoodland (editor)

Ecology & Economics for a Sustainable Future

Inland Press, Washington, DC, USA, 1990, xvi + 219 pp., $45 (hardback); $24.95 (paper).

This book, the first on applied tropical ecology, examines the many, often brave attempts to apply basic ecological principles to the pressing development issues of tropical countries. The issues discussed include agricultural development, agroforestry, tropical forest management, pest management, the planning of large-scale hydropower and irrigation schemes, and the challenge of integrating applied ecology with national conservation plans. An introductory chapter reviews the various impacts of economic development on the natural environment and maintains that applied ecology is critical to helping sustain the natural resources upon which societies depend. The authors contend that many of the tools for sustainable development are in place: national conservation strategies, the traditional wisdom of the small farmer and ancient cultures, and geographical information systems. Readers, however, will find the book particularly useful in demonstrating the integration of conservation with development and ecology with economics—the next intellectual step in the environment saga.

Developing Country Debt and Economic Performance

Jeffrey D. Sachs and Susan M. Collins (editors)

Country Studies—Indonesia, Korea, Philippines, Turkey, Vol. 3

University of Chicago Press, Chicago. IL. USA, 1990, x + 821 pp., $75.

This book is part of a larger NBER project on international debt completed in 1987; it presents case studies on eight highly indebted countries. The four countries included in the volume are the ones that have had the most successful economic experience, with the possible exception of the Philippines, which has not quite lived up to expectations. The studies provide not only a comprehensive economic history of the last 20 or 30 years, but also an insightful analysis of policy decisions, and of the lessons to be derived from them. The only exception, coincidentally, is the study on the Philippines, where the authors devote most of their efforts to discuss the relative merits of individual policymakers under the Aquino Government, or describe the fortunes of certain individual entrepreneurs under the Marcos regime.

Public Enterprises in Pakistan

Robert LaPorte Jr. and Muntazar Bashir Ahmed

The Hidden Crisis in Economic Development

Westview Press, Boulder, CO, USA, 1989, xix + 219 pp., $24.95.

Given the increasing emphasis, by multilateral lenders and by LDC governments themselves, on improving the performance of parastatals in the developing world, this study should provide useful guidance for policymakers. It offers not only an economic and financial analysis of the public sector and individual parastatals, but also an explanation of the administrative links between them and the government that affect decisionmaking. These relationships are by no means unique to Pakistan, making this book interesting for readers in other developing countries seeking either to privatize or to improve the efficiency of their public sectors.

The World Bank and the Environmental Challenge

Philippe Le Prestre

Susquehana University Press, Cranbury, NJ, USA, 1989,263 pp., $36.50.

In recent years, environmental degradation and its effects on economic development has become a matter of utmost importance for nations throughout the world. This has led to the search for a “leader,” a role that, for many, seemed uniquely suited to the World Bank. This book provides an overview of the Bank’s evolving environmental policy, focusing on the institution’s internal and external constraints, the controversy that has surrounded its environmental record in the 1980s, and the prospects for change following the major 1987 reorganization. It offers a useful insight into the dynamics of the Bank’s interactions with member nations, nongovernmental organizations, and other multilateral agencies. The author concludes that the Bank will have to play a crucial role in the years ahead as mankind has little time left to adjust to ecological scarcity. Although the 1987 reorganization of the Bank will not eliminate the internal and external constraints on policy, he says it may well increase the Bank’s ability to respond efficiently and effectively to the environmental challenge.

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Charts by P. Torsani, IMF Graphics Section. Photo credits: World Bank photographs by M. lannacci. IMF photographs by D. Zara and P. Hughes-Reid.

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