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Title:Structural adjustment programmes on the African continent: the theoretical foundations of IMF/World Bank reform policies
Author:Meilink, HenkISNI
Series:ASC working paper
City of publisher:Leiden
Publisher:African Studies Centre
Geographic term:Africa
Subjects:World Bank
economic policy
Abstract:Since the early 1980s the majority of countries in sub-Saharan Africa embarked on the implementation of IMF/World Bank designed 'structural adjustment programmes' (SAPs). This paper examines the theoretical underpinnings of the SAPs. It shows that IMF policies are based on a theoretical framework that goes back to J.J. Polak's analysis of 1957 which adopted a number of assumptions far removed from economic conditions on the African continent. Focusing on the demand side of the economy, the IMF has neglected another important cause of the financial imbalances in African economies, namely the loss of import capacity and the related reduction in output resulting from external shocks. Furthermore, the IMF policy underestimates the fragmentation of markets and the inflexibilities in African economies. The World Bank policies are based on the Revised Minimum Standard Model that can be traced back to the Harrod-Domar model of the 1940s. A serious shortcoming of the model is that foreign exchange flows are assumed to be fully and automatically used in a productive manner in the recipient country. Another critical shortcoming of the model is the absence of distributional concerns. [ASC Leiden abstract]