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June 14, 2013

How the World Bank Makes Doing Business Easier

The World Bank is not known as a very pro-market place. It’s a big organization with a great deal of expertise at putting together top-down development projects. If the government of a relatively poor country wants a dam, a set of roads or a port, the World Bank is the place to apply for assistance. The bank also does important work helping some of the world’s poorest people, and this is a focus of the new president, Dr. Jim Yong Kim (I endorsed his appointment during the contentious discussion that followed).

At the same time, the World Bank has some pockets of activity that are very helpful to private-sector activity and entrepreneurs, particularly in many of the more troubled economies. One of the most important efforts, the Doing Business indicators, has been under severe pressure of late. The latest indications are that the World Bank will keep these indicators in operation, but there is still a chance that World Bank management will cave in on important details to pressure from influential quarters, including China.

The Doing Business indicators measure what is involved in setting up and running a relatively small business in 185 economies around the world. There are also subnational reports available for some places, for example Italy in 2012-13.”

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Read Simon Johnson’s full Economix blog piece here

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