Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Dambisa Moyo's Rebuttal to Jeffrey Sachs' Attack

As alluded to previously, I'm glad it's a debate that's taking taking place in a very public way (versus the sometimes insular world of aid, as has been taking place in the debate over the commercialization of microfinance). She takes the high road in her response to Jeffrey Sachs who makes it personal (Huffington Post):

And though I am responding here in order to refute his arguments, as a fellow economist, I intend to rely on logic and evidence to make my argument and show Mr. Sachs the professional courtesy that he has failed to show to me.

Development is not that hard. We now have over 300 years of evidence of what works (and what doesn't) in increasing growth, alleviating poverty and suffering. For example, we know that countries that finance development and create jobs through trade and encouraging foreign (and domestic) investment thrive.

We also know that there is no country -- anywhere in the world -- that has meaningfully reduced poverty and spurred significant and sustainable levels of economic growth by relying on aid. If anything, history has shown us that by encouraging corruption, creating dependency, fueling inflation, creating debt burdens and disenfranchising Africans (to name a few), an aid-based strategy hurts more that it helps.
Read on here.


alan said...

Great articles. I *love* this direct engagement. I am yearning more and more to read the book! I hope Sachs doesn't dig in his heels or ignores the response!

Clement Wan said...

I'd have to say that I'm not terribly hopeful that Sachs will respond. While I should hope that he does, he has considerably less to gain than Moyo and Easterly do.

I think the world of aid is changing and Sachs represents and is on record as being intellectually invested in the status quo. As you probably know he's a strong supporter of the Millenium goals. What I think makes it a somewhat losing battle for him is the fact that the substantive gains in development and poverty eradication have not come from governments attempting to "help" others, but by home governments stepping back and getting out of the way, generally inadvertently rather than deliberately. Frankly I was a little surprised but glad he commented so directly in the first place as it legitimizes both Moyo and Easterly as being chief critics of the status quo.

This being said, I'm not sure if Easterly and Moyo even go far enough as Moyo is a supporter of Grameen whose founder Muhummad Yunus is on record as being highly critical of the commercialization microfinance despite the innumerable issues unsustainable microfinance has caused.