Economic Institutions and the Prosperity of Nations

Economic Institutions and the Prosperity of Nations

Economic Institutions and the Prosperity of Nations

Economic institutions and the performance of governments determine the differences in the prosperity of nations. In many countries, governments have set up institutions to help regulate and govern the business environment. The rules and regulations established in a nation, and the implementation and enforcement of these rules will determine the rates of success or failure of the economies of the country. Similarly, the commitment of the governments to the provision of free business environment and the provision of incentives and a good business environment determine how well firms perform. Therefore, it is important to reform the economic institutions to help make the businesses perform better, although this is not easy as it entails confronting the political forces of a country.

The poverty levels of the word remain high, with some countries recording higher percentages of poor people than others. Norway is the richest country and Burundi is the poorest (Thirlwall and Pacheco-Lopez 35). However, despite the differences in the economic strengths of countries, there is interest among economists to study the strengths of countries and the reasons why nations are rich or poor. Also, there is a close link between economics and development. Thirlwall and Pacheco-Lopez point out that globalization is one of the factors determining the economic strengths of nations currently. While globalization is hailed as a great show of development and advancement in the world, Thirlwall and Pacheco-Lopez observe that it has led to an increase in the interdependence among nations (35). Institutions such as the World Bank, the United Nations and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development try to regulate the dealings between countries to encourage fair dealings between nations (Thirlwall and Pacheco-Lopez 43). They point out that globalization has increased the rates of poverty in poor countries, and that while these institutions may have rules to try and make the interactions fair, the enforcement of these rules has been lax, and rich countries already have the framework, which enables them to control the trade to their advantage.

Thirlwall and Pacheco-Lopez point out that much progress has been in the creation of the institutions, and that it is these institutions which have been strengthened at the expense of protecting the poor countries from the negative effects of globalization (47). In their opinion, the actions of one country or groups of countries in the globalization era are resulting in negative consequences in other countries, and that the issue is major and should be considered matters of public good. Therefore, they argue that everybody should be concerned about the actions of countries and that failure of institutions to regulate free trade promises. It is clear that some of the policies which many people, governments, and institutions promote as signs of human advancement and development actually disadvantage many people in the world. Therefore, institutions have not performed their duties well in ensuring that policies such as globalization do not unfairly advantage some countries while making others poorer.

To solve the problem of underdevelopment and poverty, the institutions should be reformed. Thirlwall and Pacheco-Lopez argue that there is difference in what institutions claim to do and what they actually deliver. For example, they observe that while the World Bank claims to exist to equalize the distribution of incomes between countries across the world, there is little evidence that they have achieved or even tried to attain equity in the income disparities between the rich and poor countries of the world (52). To illustrate the ineffectiveness of the institutions in addressing the problem, Thirlwall and Pacheco-Lopez point out that the gap between the rich and poor countries is likely to grow wider in future despite the continued claim that the institutions are growing stronger. Also, Thirlwall and Pacheco-Lopez point out that all indicators of wealth distribution including per capita income, purchasing power parity, and poverty level indices show that there is a clear demarcation between the rich and poor countries, and the institutions have little achievement to show for their years of existence in the world.

While reforming the institutions is what would bring the desires reforms in the world economic and wealth distribution, such reforms are not easy as it involves traversing of political reform and confrontation of vested interests. The institutions are assumed to be custodians of fairness; and especially try to make the lives of the poor countries better by narrowing the gap between the rich and the poor. The World Bank points out that the major case of poverty is the lack of resources or lack of returns for resources (Thirlwall and Pacheco-Lopez 69). However, this position may not be accurate, and may be an attempt to help the rich countries to cover up their unfair trade practices. For example, it is common to see African countries which are rich in mineral resources or Arab countries with much oil remaining poor as these resources help the rich countries with little returns to the countries of origin. By helping explain the wealth gap as a natural phenomenon, or blaming the poor countries, the institutions which are expected to be arbiters in fair trade practice are becoming complicit in the continuing poor utilization of resources from poor countries.

The reforms should start by the finding out of the proper reasons why some countries remain poor. The institutional reform has been hampered by the political interests of the countries which benefit from the present state of affairs, which is heavily skewed in favor of rich countries. The World Bank points out that trade is one of the ways in which the poverty of the world can reduce, but that this can only happen if the benefits of trade are extended to the poor countries. The institutions that are responsible for regulating this international trade such as the UNCTAD and World Bank need to be reformed to ensure that trade is fair and that poor countries get value for their resources. Also, there have been long standing issues about subsidies, with rich countries subsidizing their agricultural products thus making it difficult for poor ones to sell theirs. The world institutions have not tried to solve this issue in any major way because they depend on the rich countries for survival. Therefore, while there is a visible need for reform, such reforms is blocked by the active politicization of these bodies.

The main determinant of the economic strength of a country is the trade practices the nation engages in. However, international trade is controlled by many factors, and is heavily skewed in favor of the rich countries. While there are institutions meant to ensure that international trade is fair and that rich countries do not use unfair means to benefit from skewed trade practices, they have been largely ineffective in regulating world trade. There is need for reform in these institutions so that they can execute their mandate more effectively, but such transformations are hindered by the politicization of their operations. Therefore, developing countries should unite in demanding for more fair trade practices and push the institutions to execute their work more fairly.

Works Cited

The World Bank. The Role of Trade in Ending Poverty.


Thirlwall, A.P. and Pacheco-López. Economics of Development: Theory and

               Evidence. Palgrave, 2017.


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