women and life on earth bookshelf


Debt Boomerang
How Third World Debt Harms Us All

Susan George

Pluto Press with the Transnational Institute (TNI) a 1992 classic
ISBN 0 7453 0594 6 Pb

Debtor nations in the third world are not the only victims of the debt crisis. This study shows that "we in the North must also pay the price of World Bank and IMF policies that have accelerated deforestation, encouraged mass migrations, fuelled an expanding drug trade and heightened global instability and conflict. Our taxes underwrite the irresponsible and short-sighted loan policies of the banks, and sustain the downward spiral of global indebtedness." (cover text)

"Without the cascades of easy money in the 1970s and early 1980s, much ecological damage could have been averted. Heavy borrowing in the 1970s financed huge, ecologically harmful projects such as mega-dams, nuclear power plants, smelters designed to be fuelled with forest-derived charcoal, huge industrial and agricultural estates and so on. When the bills came due, as they did especially after the debt crisis exploded in 1982, ever-greater quantities of environmental resources had to be cashed in to pay them." (p. 2)

"From country to country, the details inevitably differ. Yet at a general level, it is the same dreary story. We witness the failure of a development model still enthusiastically endorsed by the IMF and the World Bank, the main managers of the debt system. It is a slow failure. It wounds and tortures before it kills. In its current stage, the key element is the way debt drains countries of their material and spiritual resources. It is a violence; in response, for some, violence seems the only or at least the best option. Sometimes that violence is in the form of a riot, sometimes a new war, sometimes an old one." (p. 166)

back to top
back to books on globalization