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The IMF and the World Bank in Jordan: A case of over optimism and elusive growth

Abstract

This article analyses the IMF and World Bank guided economic liberalization program which has taken place in Jordan since 1989. It argues that the current euphoria surrounding the outcome of the program is misplaced in two respects. Firstly, Jordan was not the model reformer often portrayed by the IMF and World Bank in their public statements. Secondly, an in-depth analysis of the growth that was recorded during the reform period shows that it was not the type of export-led intensive growth normally expected of a successful stabilization and structural reform program guided by the IMF and World Bank. Instead, growth has been extensive rather than intensive i.e. based upon increased factor inputs rather than productivity gains and focused in the non-tradable sector in the mid-1990s growth period and the non-tradables and an enclave export sector since 2000. We ask therefore, whether the disappointing outcome was the result of reform slippage on the part of the authorities or due to the (partial) implementation of an inappropriate reform program. In analyzing the program content, we identify some weaknesses in the policy prescriptions and a degree of conflict between the IMF and World Bank. Our conclusion is that the publicly upbeat interpretation that has been placed by the Bank and the Fund on Jordan's reform program reflects a degree of donor interest on the part of these two institutions, namely, the desire to present Jordan as a model of reform and globalization in the MENA region in order to justify the continued flow of funds to what had become one of the major Western allies in the region post-1992.

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Correspondence to Jane Harrigan.

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Harrigan, J., El-Said, H. & Wang, C. The IMF and the World Bank in Jordan: A case of over optimism and elusive growth. Rev Int Org 1, 263–292 (2006). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11558-006-9490-8

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Keywords

  • IMF
  • World Bank
  • Jordan
  • Economic liberalization

JEL Codes

  • O19
  • O53
  • F35