Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Is Anyone Reading This Old Enough to Remember IFAD?

You are probably of a certain age or a development aid professional if you know what IFAD stands for. For the rest of you, IFAD is short for the International Fund for Agricultural Development. It was set up in 1977 with money from the developed countries and OPEC members to help cash-strapped developing countries in the aftermath of the First Oil Crisis. It’s a reminder of a time when oil producing countries actually had a sense of embarrassment about the effect that their windfall boon was having on their less fortunate brethren. Could it have been the zakat thing?

But one of the more striking features of the latest energy crunch is that there has been no talk about recycling Arab (or Iranian) oil money to the rest of the Third World. Instead, it’s all about the Gulf states competing to become a global financial and (except for Saudi Arabia) tourism center. Greed is good.

It’s not just oil producers either. Until very recently, the Western media and politicians were paying very little attention to the effects of $50-100/bbl oil on poor nations. Not that development aid is anything close to a panacea, but the relative indifference still is remarkable. Have the triumph of the market economy and the end of the Cold War coarsened our market instincts?

No comments: