One of the most dramatic political-economic changes over the last 15 years has been the shift in patterns of international finance. At the beginning of the 1980s, a select group of prosperous Third World nations had privileged access to an enormous volume of commercial bank credit. They could also attract fairly important levels of direct investment. For all practical purposes, finance was no longer a binding constraint on the development strategies of this group of countries. Although poorer developing nations could not rely on private credit or investment, many of them had access to substantial amounts of funds via bilateral donors and the multilateral institutions.