£55.00 | $99.95
1 May 2003
The Economist's Tale
A Consultant Encounters Hunger and the World Bank
What really happens when the World Bank imposes its policies on a country? This is an insider‘s view of one aid-made crisis. Peter Griffiths was at the interface between government and the Bank. In this ruthlessly honest, day by day account of a mission he undertook in Sierra Leone, he uses his diary to tell the story of how the World Bank, obsessed with the free market, imposed a secret agreement on the government, banning all government food imports or subsidies. The collapsing economy meant that the private sector would not import. Famine loomed. No ministry, no state marketing organization, no aid organization could reverse the agreement. It had to be a top-level government decision, whether Sierra Leone could afford to annoy minor World Bank officials. This is a rare and important portrait of the aid world which insiders will recognize, but of which the general public seldom get a glimpse.
'This is a delightful read, a real page turner as the pressure builds and an antidote to the popular belief that for a book on economics to be taken seriously it must be difficult. The book can be read on many levels: as a gripping narrative, as a parable for our times, as a fascinating insight into what a professional economist does when dispatched to a third world country, as a behind the scenes view of the interplay of politics, greed and the World Bank's obsession with one economic solution. It makes economics personal. As such, it is an ideal read for the sixth form economist or sociologist and an essential text for courses on development and globalisation...its value in winning the interest of students cannot be overstated. Every school should have a copy. Persuade your school or college librarian now.' - The Journal of the Economics & Business Education Association, 2004
'Written in diary form, The Economists‘s Tale is a lightly fictionized account (to avoid libel) of Mr Griffiths‘ struggle to make the government defy the World Bank. Sparkling in his role as a conscience-stricken double agent, he fights intrigue and physical danger to triumph in the end. Along the way, he brilliantly elucidates the relationship between incompetence and corruption, both in Sierra Leone and the aid industry at large.' - The Economist, August 30-September 5, 2003
'Peter Griffiths, a leading international aid consultant, exposes how measures by the World Bank preventing the Sierra Leone government from importing food in favour of the private sector caused disaster in the late Eighties... Griffiths paints a picture in which World Bank staff are promoted only for implementing rigid orthodoxies while whistleblowers questioning government corruption are expelled.' - The Observer, 31 August 2003
'Highly readable. [This book] presents economics in practice while also highlighting the constraints that consultants ... face on the ground. It is passionately written and backed up by knowledge and experience.' - New Agriculturist on-line
'Unputdownable - as thrilling as any thriller... I‘ve never read an account of the life of an economic consultant which came anywhere near it in the vividness of the observation or the pace of the action.' - Clive Dewey Emeritus Reader in Economic History, University of Leicester
'The Economist‘s Tale brings economics alive. As a diarized account of the work of an economist - sensitively written and enjoyable - it is compulsory reading for anybody studying economics, management, marketing, business and other social sciences.' - David Needham, author of Business Studies‘ and other best selling business books.
'A gripping narrative, ...... It makes economics personal. ...... an ideal read for the sixth form economist or sociologist and an essential text for courses on development and globalisation. ....... Its value in winning the interest of students cannot be overstated. Every school should have a copy. Persuade your school or college librarian now.' - Business Education Today, April 2005
'Remarkable for its rich detail and its vivid and sometimes humorous description, but most of all for its economic insights it offers and the way it traces the critical thought processes of a researcher in the field...It is rare to find such a detailed, vivid, helpful account of what it is like to do development work.' - Review of Radical Political Economy
Table of Contents
Foreword: Is the story true?
The task ahead
Meeting the minister
Meeting the officials
The United Nations
Doing business in Freetown
Finding the facts
In the markets
Planning my expedition
Alarm at the World Bank
Into the interior
Visiting the projects
Finding the facts
The Southern province
Financing the system
What happened to the money?
How civil servants survive
How much food is there?
The World Bank reform
Cash flow problems
The Agricultural Marketing Board
Of coups and rumours of coups
How much rice is imported?
Who will import?
How do I get action?
Getting it to the decision makers
Handing it over
On trek again
Waiting for action
The marketing board
Revisiting the importers
A second Cabinet Paper
Alerting the World Food Programme
Breaking the rules
And then what?
About the Author:
Dr Peter Griffiths is an independent economist and consultant who has been involved in a very wide range of activities over many years, including export marketing studies, pricing studies, privatization investigations, project appraisal missions and project preparation studies. Originally a specialist in the marketing and pricing of agricultural products, he has worked all over the world in the EU, Eastern Europe, Africa, South Asia, South East Asia and the Caribbean. He originally started his career at the University of Cambridge where he worked on horticultural economics. From 1972 to 1980 he was Senior Research Officer at the Irish Agricultural Institute. He has published widely in academic journals, as well as a number of books mainly on economic themes.
This book is being published under a pseudonym since its subject matter relates to a mission which he undertook for the World Bank and the results of which, despite the institutional constraints involved, he feels strongly ought to be in the public domain.
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