Mission Shift

This message was posted to the Independent Media Center's web site on April 15, 2000.

WB, IMF & WTO Mission Shift

Simply stated, the primary mission of the World Bank (WB), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the World Trade Organization (WTO) is to continually and exponentially increase the stock values of transnational corporations. 

While this may not have been their primary mission when they began (substitute GATT for WTO 1944-95), this is their primary mission now.  These institutions have all been subject to transnational corporate takeovers over the past 20 years, beginning in the era of the Reagan and Thatcher regimes during the early 1980s. 

The same could be said of the United Nations, as well as national governments throughout the world.  In fact, no international or national institution or government has been immune from this process.  The success of the transnational corporate takeover is illustrated by the increase in corporate stock prices over the past 20 years.


The WB financed the construction of infrastructures (roads, power plants and dams, telecommunication systems) to facilitate transnational corporate exploitation, encouraged and insured transnational corporate investments including sweatshops, and financed extraction of raw materials and the production of agricultural commodities for export. 

The IMF forced privatization of national industries and resources, forced cuts in government spending on health and education, increased interest rates paid to banks, forced exports of raw materials and agricultural commodities, forced elimination of tariffs, and bailed out transnational banks and other investors when speculative bubbles burst (Mexico, East Asia, Brazil, Russia).

The WTO (and earlier trade "agreements") eliminated tariffs, and eliminated laws and regulations to protect workers, consumers, the environment, public health, human rights, and animals.  It also promoted patents on life and all other forms of intellectual property rights. 

Altogether, the transnational corporate takeover of the WB, IMF and WTO has been quite successful.  It has enriched the owners and managers of transnational corporations enormously.  Even people owning small amounts of transnational corporate stock have benefited.  Unfortunately, these financial benefits have come at the expense of citizens and environments, particularly in third world countries. 

As international and national institutions and governments have fallen to the interests of transnational corporations, the entire planet has fallen to these same interests.  Now all of life on Earth has been organized to serve one primary mission: to continually and exponentially increase the stock values of transnational corporations. 

On a finite planet with finite resources, this process raises the question of how much longer can it continue?  At what point do societies and ecosystems become so dysfunctional that they disintegrate into chaos and self-destruction?  Of course a corollary question is how much longer do we want to wait to find out?

Karl Davies
People Against Corporate Takeover (PACT)
Northampton, Massachusetts

Note: For more information, see "Reason No. 1 to Come to DC on April 16: International Monetary Fund (IMF)/World Bank structural adjustment programs have increased poverty around the world" at http://www.a16.org/resources/reason1.doc.  See also /reason2.doc, /reason3.doc, /reason4.doc, /reason5.doc, /reason6.doc, /reason7.doc.  The "Fact Sheets" and "Analyses of the WB, IMF, etc" sections at http://www.a16.org/resources contain much other useful information.