What Happened to the Washington Consensus?

Graham Bird

Published: December 2001

At the beginning of the 1990s it appeared that there was considerable agreement about the kind of economic policies that countries turning to the IMF and the World Bank should pursue. These included macroeconomic stabilisation, microeconomic liberalisation and openness, and were summarised by the concept of a ‘Washington Consensus’. How has the Consensus stood up to the passage of time? This article briefly assesses the track record of Consensus-type policies and shows how the Consensus has evolved. With regards to some of its components, a greater sense of agnosticism may now prevail. Moreover, issues that were little or no part of the Consensus have come to the fore. The implications of these changes for institutional design are also investigated.

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