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Is the Washington consensus dead ?

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IEP Paris

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  1. Introduction
  2. The reign of the Washington Consensus
    1. What are origins of the Washington Consensus?
    2. What constitutes the policies of the Washington Consensus?
  3. The manifestations of the post neo liberal era
    1. The failures of the Washington Consensus
    2. The rebellion from the outside and from the inside
  4. The principles of the 'Post Washington Consensus' and its limitations
    1. What characterizes the Post Washington Consensus?
    2. The limitation of the Post Washington Consensus era
  5. Conclusion
  6. Bibliography

?The Washington Consensus has been dead for years,? said the World Bank President James D. Wolfensohn at the opening of a conference on ?Scaling up Poverty Reduction' in Shanghai on 25 May, 2004. ?It's been replaced by all sorts of other consensuses. But today we're approaching our discussions with no consensuses,? he added. More surprising than the content of the message is the messenger. Indeed the Washington Consensus has been the core of many debates and a controversial subject for a few years. So the fact that, once again, it can be condemned is not that surprising. Yet the fact that the President of the World Bank himself declares the death of the Washington Consensus is much more remarkable. In fact, this is what gives value to this declaration. The implications are twofold: first, it means that he acknowledges that the Washington Consensus did exist, and more, that it is no longer significant. However it seems that the current situation is less obvious than James Wolfensohn presumes. Obviously this particular way of thinking about the development has been more and more criticized over the past few years. Its failures have been more and more apparent. Its functioning has been denounced in reference to its lack of transparency, but also its lack of legitimacy. Its whole philosophy has been less and less accepted by a range of actors as broad as NGO's, citizens' movements in the developing world and even some people in developed countries. Yet, at the same time, the Washington Consensus has not fully disappeared and its death cannot be completely proclaimed. Indeed, some evidence shows that its end is relative since some of its policies are still inspired by the recommendations of the IMF and the World Bank and that these representative institutions are still strong and dominant.
What is the situation now? Are we facing a post Washington Consensus area? Or are we still under the neo-liberal domination? What evidence could make us understand the current state of the development policies? To what extent is the Washington Consensus dead?
In order to better understand this controversy, I will first describe the origins and the principles of the Washington Consensus. Next, I will present the evidence that demonstrates the disbanding of this way of thinking and what could possibly be the new paradigm in terms of development policies. I will finally present some limitations that illustrate the continued existence of the Washington Consensus.

[...] Therefore, the core question is no longer much state?' but rather ?what kind of state?' The limitation of the Post Washington Consensus era Even though, over the past few years, we have observed a shift from extreme neo-liberal politics to more inclusive ones, it might be an overstatement to claim that we are definitely in a new way of thinking. Certainly, the way foreign assistance is managed is evolving and a new awareness is expanding. Still, the Post Washington Consensus is not fully established and it will need a few years more to become the dominant model. [...]


[...] To what extent is the Washington Consensus dead? In order to better understand this controversy, I will first describe the origins and the principles of the Washington Consensus. Next, I will present the evidence that demonstrates the disbanding of this way of thinking and what could possibly be the new paradigm in terms of development policies. I will finally present some limitations that illustrate the continued existence of the Washington Consensus. I The reign of the Washington Consensus We cannot wonder if we are facing a post neo-liberal era and analyze the transitional situation without clearly understanding and defining the Washington Consensus itself. [...]


[...] Finally, one of the majors reasons why the Post Washington Consensus is not fully attained is because no clear alternative theory has emerged. Obviously criticisms have risen recently from the civil society as well as from the most powerful academic elites as Jagdish Bhagwati of Columbia University and Paul Krugman of MIT. They all call for the modification of the Washington Consensus. Nonetheless, it seems as though, as long as no well-defined alternative ?school of thought' appears, no clear counter- power would be able to replace the existent dominant approach. [...]

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