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Category Archives: Books and book reviews

Saving Private Hayek

UPDATE: 3:30pm links to other reviews (all great) of the Fukuyama review at end of this post

F.A. Hayek continues to be the most mis-characterized economist of all time.  As if Glenn Beck were not doing enough damage, now even someone I greatly respect — Frank Fukuyama– has gotten Hayek wrong yet again. In a review of a new edition of the Constitution of Liberty in the NYT book review, Fukuyama says at the end:

In the end,

Also posted in Economics principles, Uncategorized | 28 Comments

Controlled experiments and uncontrollable humans

Bill reviewed two much-awaited books for the Wall Street Journal last weekend: Poor Economics by Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo, and More Than Good Intentions by Dean Karlan and Jacob Appel.

The Good:

The books’ signal achievement is in addressing two disgraceful problems that beset humanitarian aid. The first is that the effectiveness of aid is often not evaluated at all; the second is that even when aid is evaluated, the methods are

Also posted in Academic research | 4 Comments

Money buys happiness after all

Does happiness rise with income? Are people in poor countries less happy than people in rich countries?

Much of what we thought we knew on this topic comes from a famous 1974 study by economic historian Richard Easterlin. Easterlin found that within countries, rich people tended to be happier than the poor. But contrary to expectation, rich countries as a whole were not happier than poor countries. And even stranger, in the US, when per…

Also posted in Academic research | 19 Comments

Tea and the “narrative of Terror”

Even as [Three Cups of Tea] appears to provide a self-critical and humane perspective on terrorism, [this] article argues that it constructs a misleading narrative of terror in which the realities of Northern Pakistan and Muslim lifeworlds are distorted through simplistic tropes of ignorance, backwardness and extremism, while histories of US geopolitics and violence are erased. The text has further facilitated the emergence of a participatory militarism, whereby humanitarian work helps to reinvent the military as

Also posted in Stereotypes | Tagged , , , | 15 Comments

The African Success Story

If there was a theme to the development stories I read last week it was that the good news about rising standards of living on much of the African continent is not getting the recognition it deserves in the mainstream imagination.

In case you don’t agree that people have a negatively skewed image of Africa as a whole, try this experiment: Ask an educated, well-read (but non-Africanist) friend or relative to estimate what percentage of…

Also posted in In the news, Stereotypes | Tagged , , | 40 Comments

Malaria, past and present

Paul Russell, the main architect of the Malaria Eradication Program, had promised the Eisenhower Administration that the DDT-spray teams would extend a hand of friendship to wavering Cold War allies, revive the entrepreneurial spirit of populations made dull and sickly by malaria, open up huge areas of fertile land for cultivation, pro-mote economic development, end poverty, and spur demand for American products. But the global DDT campaign turned out to be one of the most famous and costly failures in the history of public health. Although by 1970 the

Also posted in Global health | 13 Comments

Don’t be snobbish towards merchants & entrepreneurs, and you’ll develop

Aid Watch interviewed Deirdre McCloskey, author of the fascinating new book shown here.

Could you briefly state the thesis of your book?

Modern economic growth—that stunning increase from $3 a day in 1800 worldwide to now upwards of $130 a day in the richest countries, and anyway $30 as a worldwide average—can’t be accounted for in the usual and materialist ways.  It wasn’t trade, investment, exploitation, imperialism, education, legal changes, genes, science.  It was innovation,

Tagged | 30 Comments

The myth of Ethiopia’s “natural” disasters

As Amartya Sen has shown, famines in our times are not true natural disasters, but more often the consequence of bad governments and their bad policies. Revisiting the era of Live Aid for a book review in The New Republic, David Rieff gives evidence of how the Ethiopian famine was framed as a natural disaster rather than a political one, so as not to “complicate” the picture for viewers:

… Michael Buerk’s first BBC

21 Comments

Addicted to misery?

by David Zetland, S. V. Ciriacy-Wantrup Fellow in Natural Resource Economics & Political Economy, UC Berkeley

While Bill and others were messing around with the New Yorker piece on Chinese development, they overlooked another piece in the same issue that may be even more significant (!) than debates over China’s growth.

In “Alms Dealers” [sub reqd] Philip Gourevitch reviews Linda Polman’s book, “The Crisis Caravan: What’s Wrong with Humanitarian Aid?” The central…

23 Comments

The Aid Trap: A reply

The following post was written by Glenn Hubbard and William Duggan, authors of The Aid Trap, which we reviewed last week.

We are delighted that the blog site that Bill Easterly oversees, Aid Watch, has reviewed our book, The Aid Trap. And we are further delighted that on balance the reviewer agrees with what we say in the book. But the reviewer also makes one major objection that we have heard many, many times…

Tagged , , | 4 Comments