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Category Archives: Big ideas

Stop me before I paradox again

Robin Hanson offers these thoughts on big-picture thinking (HT Dennis Whittle): I’ve …noticed that among smart folks, the most successful keep their smarts on a short leash. They use their smarts to make the sale, win the case, pass the test, get published, etc., but they don’t use much smarts to consider whether they really[.....]

Tagged | 5 Comments

David, Ban, Bill, and Alice

The always wonderful David Rieff takes on the MDG summit: With the fatuousness that has marked his administration from the outset, the U.N. secretary general, Ban Ki Moon, has now issued a document called “Keeping the Promise,” timed to coincide with the 2010 meeting of the U.N. General Assembly and the summit on the organization’s[.....]

Tagged , | 6 Comments

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[.....]

Also posted in Satire and parodies | Tagged | 12 Comments

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[.....]

Also posted in Grand plans and aid targets, Trade | 13 Comments

A Lecturer answers The Big Question

Two of my favorites, Chris Blattman and Megan McArdle , recently had a great dialogue on “is aid depressing?” I don’t have anything to add–read them! However,  their dialogue does remind me of  The Big Question that I and many others get whenever we give lectures on economic development. Inevitably, after every single lecture I have ever given,[.....]

Also posted in Poverty | Tagged , | 11 Comments

What aid critics could learn from movie critics

The Wall Street Journal yesterday had an article on “2010: worst movie year ever?”. Movie critics have a way with words that leaves us aid critics in the dust. Hollywood is fighting a war on numerous fronts, and losing all of them. And movie critics are even worse at something aid critics are often accused[.....]

Also posted in In the news | Tagged , | 16 Comments

The answer is 42! Why Development is not about solutions, it’s about problem-solving systems

UPDATE, Wednesday, July 14: I’m glad we had a good reflective discussion in the blogosphere on these ideas, not the usual polemics. Thanks to all of the bloggers I’ve noticed who have now commented on this post: Aid Thoughts, Nancy Birdsall at Center for Global Development, Innovations for Poverty Action, Metamorphoses, PSD Blog at the World Bank,[.....]

Tagged , | 47 Comments

Thank you, World Cup fans, I now understand institutions for development

UPDATE July 8, 2010 12:10pm: link to a great new article on the spontaneous evolution of rules in the history of football (see end of post) I learned a lot from the furious debate that followed the post about rules vs. norms, regarding whether Uruguay cheated Ghana. My original notion was that intentionally breaking the rules to prevent[.....]

Also posted in Economics principles | Tagged , , | 23 Comments

The Androids are coming, is aid ready?

This post is the second in a series by Dennis Whittle. Dennis is the CEO of GlobalGiving, an international marketplace for philanthropy. In my last post, I argued that the “operating system” used by the current international aid agencies is stuck using IBM punch cards while the rest of the world has moved on to[.....]

Also posted in Technology | Tagged , | 8 Comments

Rules vs. Norms in Development, or more importantly, Did Uruguay cheat Ghana?

Today there is a great discussion of rules vs. norms because it applies to something people REALLY care about: World Cup football. Uruguayan player Luis Suarez illegally blocked a sure Ghana goal with his hands, a goal in the last seconds that would have won Ghana the game. He was ejected according to the rules and Ghana awarded a[.....]

Also posted in In the news | 46 Comments
  • About Aid Watch

    The Aid Watch blog is a project of New York University's Development Research Institute (DRI). This blog is principally written by William Easterly, author of "The Elusive Quest for Growth: Economists' Adventures and Misadventures in the Tropics" and "The White Man's Burden: Why the West's Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good," and Professor of Economics at NYU. It is co-written by Laura Freschi and by occasional guest bloggers. Our work is based on the idea that more aid will reach the poor the more people are watching aid.

    "Conscience is the inner voice that warns us somebody may be looking." - H.L. Mencken

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