USAID

Cry the Beloved Country: Ethiopians Criticize Columbia for Hosting Meles

UPDATE Sept 19, 8:30am (see end of post)
I have been getting a lot of email from Ethiopian-Americans who are very upset that Columbia University has invited Prime Minister Meles Zenawi to speak this coming Wednesday, like this one:
Most of the professors who come across him, in most cases are neutralized or transformed as his advocates. So far, you are the only one standing clear, so the Ethiopian people need one intellectual friend like you to make their case. Please don’t be afraid and help our people and speak up.

FAO senior economist responds on “made-up world hunger numbers”

We received this comment this morning from David Dawe, senior economist at FAO, in response to Wednesday’s post
Spot the made-up world hunger numbers. Kudos for the prompt reply and the willingness to engage in discussion.
Dear Professor Easterly,

Top 25 Rankings of All Time

Today’s topic was spurred by some rather unusual college rankings by the Wall Street Journal, in which Texas Tech has a higher rank than Harvard. This has been among the most popular articles on the Online Journal for 3 straight days now. Of course, also very popular are the US News and World Report College Rankings (which give the rather opposite results in which Harvard does slightly better relative to Texas Tech.)
We all love rankings. 
Talking about ranking methodology, not so much. 

India tells UK to turn off the aid tap already

Reported yesterday in the English language daily newspaper the Indian Express*:
The External Affairs Ministry has instructed the Finance Ministry to inform London that India will not accept further aid from next April…
“…[I]t would be better if our decision not to avail any further DFID assistance with effect from 1st April 2011 could be conveyed to the British side in an appropriate manner at the earliest,” [Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao] wrote to Finance Secretary Ashok Chawla.
Ahead of Cameron’s visit, India had considered rejecting DFID offer in view of the “negative publicity of Indian poverty promoted by DFID”.

Spot the made-up world hunger numbers

Today’s exercise, dear readers, is to spot made up numbers in major news stories.
Leading newspapers today report on FAO’s new world hunger numbers (see FT and NYT). The FAO reports that the number of hungry people fell from 1.02 billion in 2008 to 925 million in 2009. That’s very good news, unless it didn’t happen.
Inquiring minds want to know:
(1) how did the FAO come up with a number for 2009, when the World Development Indicators (WDI) of the World Bank are only reporting malnutrition numbers up through 2008?

Growing cars in Iowa

 [T]here are two technologies for producing automobiles in America. One is to manufacture them in Detroit, and the other is to grow them in Iowa.

Here’s the detailed technology by which you grow cars in Iowa:

How to respond to a bad government in someone else’s country?

 The question in the title is one of the hardest in our field.
I just wrote a Wall Street Journal book review critical of the Meles’ government in Ethiopia. I got some supportive letters from Ethiopians, but a Political Science Ph.D. student named Hamere wrote me as follows:
Hello William,
It is a pity that you produced such a hate and politics charged article against my country, Ethiopia and its leadership… What we have is simply visionary, caring, developmental and strong leadership.

Thank the IRS for giving you your last name

UPDATE 9/13 noon: see end of post
wonderful post by Cafe Hayek on the history of how the state imposed last names to supersede local practices (“Bill who lives in the east”),  featuring an awesome essay on Cato Unbound by James C. Scott and a thoughtful response by Donald Boudreaux.
Query: which societies today still do not have permanent last names?
UPDATE 11:30am: thanks for the responses to the query! keep them coming. The James C. Scott thesis is that a permanent last name (i.e. the same across generations) is some measure of the “modernization” of the state. I think I feel an instrumental variable coming on here…

The 9/11 values of a development economist

With all the hatred, mistrust, and conflict associated with today’s date, it’s a good time for a development economist to describe his  or her values.
I believe that all humans are created equal, that they have inalienable rights, which include freedom of speech, freedom of religon, and freedom from persecution because of race or religion.
That includes not persecuting members of a religion because some OTHER members of that religion have done evil.

Our Afr*c* P*rn problem gets worse after we try to make it better

UPDATE 9/10/10 1:30 PM: Barbara Streisand and anti-Muslim bigotry (see end of post)
Yes, after that post that admitted our P*rn problem and tried to get out of it, the problem has gotten even worse, like rapidly. The original post Famine Afr*c* stereotype p*rn shows no letup has now climbed from 4th to 3rd most popular post of all time.

Beautiful fractals and ugly inequality

UPDATE 4pm: is there any point to this post? see end of text
UPDATE II: 4:30pm Critic cuts me some slack. see end of text
UPDATE III 11am, 9/10/10: Paul Krugman says he had the idea first (see end of text)

Welcome to economics, all you students (and aid workers)

Today, for the first time in my professional career I taught Principles of Economics. I’ll be teaching this all semester long and giving occasional reports from the classroom.
The officially required duty of all Principles instructors is to first define economics. Here is the definition from the 18th edition of McConnell, the most popular text on the market and actually the exact same text I used in my own first econ class 35 years ago:
Economics is the social science concerned with how individuals, institutions, and society make optimal choices under conditions of scarcity.

Knowledgeable, powerful expert in charge of development strategy admits he is fictional

Just a day after completing the country’s Comprehensive Development Strategy, the expert in charge of Development admitted that he does not actually exist. The expert had done a superb job prioritizing the needs of the poor across 9 major sectors and hundreds of development interventions, not to mention mainstreaming gender and the environment. He had calculated the country’s financing requirements to attain the Millennium Development Goals, as well as the country’s needs for neutral, humanitarian peacekeeping forces to end the civil war, along with a post-conflict strategy to re-integrate combatants, and a timetable for fair, competitive elections.

Be Careful What You Export

Our distant ancestors had a biological constitution awfully similar to our own, and, like us, only 24 hours in a day. Arguably the main reason we have so much better lives than them is that we have better ways of doing things (broadly conceived). So it makes a great deal of sense that much of the work in development planning and foreign aid consists in exporting ways of doing things. Technology and scientific know-how are the most easily obvious examples, but we also export methods of organization and governance.

Statement from CARE on Bruckner FOIA Request

AidWatch received the following statement from CARE regarding Till Bruckner’s AidWatch post on USAID and NGO transparency:
Statement from CARE (Aug. 30, 2010):

We Now Return to Our Regularly Scheduled Hayek

Universidad Francisco Marroquin recently made available both the video and transcripts of a series of interviews with F.A. Hayek from the mid-1970′s. Not only do they furnish an in depth look into the ideas of one of the past century’s most influential thinkers, and pair him with some of the other great economists of the past half-century, they do so with a level of style that only the 1970′s could provide.

Help the World’s Poor: Buy Some New Clothes

This is a guest post written by Benjamin Powell, an assistant professor of Economics at Suffolk University and a Senior Economist with the Beacon Hill Institute.  He is the editor of Making Poor Nations Rich, and is currently writing a book entitled No Sweat: How Sweatshops Improve Lives and Economic Growth.
Back to school shopping leads many people to buy apparel that was made in sweatshops. Rather than feel guilty for “exploiting” poor workers, shoppers should rejoice.  Their spending is some of the best aid we can give to people in poorer countries.

Turning over Aid Watch management for a week

Dear Aid Watchers,
Both Laura and I are away for a week starting today.
I am cutting off the Internet entirely for a week in a bid to regain my sanity, so anything addressed to me in any Net medium (email, Twitter, Facebook, blog comments) I will not see for a week.
In the absence of Laura and I, DRI post-doc Adam Martin has generously agreed to take over as Guest Editor for a week, beginning with this morning’s post about what we can learn from city plans based on shapes of zoo animals.
See you after Labor Day! Bill

Constructivist Cartography

The development blogosphere recently lit up with news of South Sudan’s plan to rebuild some of its urban centers in the shape of various animals.

Syndicate content