The NYT features its perennial snide profile of global-justice activists, although this time with a bit of a vindication of their arguments.
The annual meetings of the World Bank, I.M.F. and G-7 finance ministers typically do not carry with them much in the way of urgency. The script is usually so familiar that the Washington police know it by heart: finance ministers arrive in their limos and stake out their tables at the city’s best restaurants; free-market protestors dressed like Mutant Ninja Turtles kick up a ruckus in a tiny triangular patch of park across from World Bank headquarters; a few of the protesters get arrested trying to enter the building; and the news media, and the rest of the city, largely ignore the event.
A steady refrain from the protesters has been that more economic nationalism is needed, both to protect the poor and to prevent big corporations from robbing smaller countries of wealth. They have argued that more regulation is needed to keep big business in check, and have derided free markets as benefiting only a narrow swath of society.
Typically at World Bank meetings, officials grouse about the misguided protesters. This year, things are a little different. “There’s no question the Washington consensus is dead,” one senior World Bank official said, requesting anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly to a reporter. He said he was referring to “the free-market consensus,” adding that at the World Bank, the push toward deregulation and unfettered free markets “died at the time of the $700 billion bailout.”