Friday, September 15, 2006

Why Does the World Bank Think Iraq Is Succeeding?

The World Bank's list of "low income countries under stress" that are characterized "by weak policies, institutions, and governance" seems to be missing an obvious candidate: Iraq.

The Bank's methodology makes the point that countries are included on the list whose "per capita income [falls] within the threshold of International Development Association (IDA) eligibility."

Iraq has oil, so that's why it is off the list, right? But two other major oil producers are on the list--Sudan and Nigeria.

Sudan has a GDP estimate of $2,100; Iraq, which is not, has a GDP estimate of $3,400. Perhaps the Bank decided that this was sufficient to take Iraq out of the "low-income" category. But the CIA Factbook on Iraq notes: "Per capita output and living standards were still well below the pre-1991 level, but any estimates have a wide range of error. "

One assumes that World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz must be pleased that Iraq doesn't make the Bank's list; that under his watch Iraq is not classed as a "fragile" state.

Iraq doesn't seem to have ever been on the LICUS list, from 2003 onward.

It does seem a bit of sleight of hand with the statistics. Yes, Iraq has a great deal of oil revenue, but all the welfare inidices (unemployment, power, etc.) point to a country that is de facto a lower-income country than might be suggested by the stats on paper.
Sudan has a per capita GDP in the high 300s. WBG has its own definition of low income country, i.e. $745, in 2003.
Nigeria, $290 (2002). WBG only claims that these are the "lower income countries under stress", nothing more. It does not say the Taiwan is not under stress, Israel... ...Iraq.
World Bank puts Russia at same economic level as Swaziland. Are its criteria out of whack?
A great example of the fundamental lack of objectivity in the environment we struggle to understand.

Here's what I wonder - why was Iran during the Khatami era ranked the same as Iraq under Hussein in political and civil liberty?
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