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Category Archives: Political economy

Red states & Blue cities: Divided we’ll endure anyway

Happy election day! Aid Watch is unable to maintain any pretense of doing its normal business in the midst of all the excitement. Please vote early and often for the candidate of your choice, as long as they passed 8th grade science.

This cool 3-D map shows the Red – Blue split in a way that captures the large Democratic vote in large urban areas. Thanks a lot, cool mapmaker, now we seem even more divided.

We…

Also posted in Maps | 8 Comments

A more articulate economist formulates perfectly my most unpopular development argument

From the wonderful, recently updated book by Paul Seabright, via Greg Mankiw via Peter Gordon:

Politicians are in charge of the modern economy in much the same way as a sailor is in charge of a small boat in a storm. The consequences of their losing control completely may be catastrophic (as civil war and hyperinflation in parts of the former Soviet empire have recently reminded us), but even while they keep afloat, their influence

Also posted in Academic research | Tagged , , | 8 Comments

FT: Celebrities urge G8 to make new unkept promises to keep previous unkept promises

Oh how we wish it would be otherwise! What will it take?

Alan Beattie writes on the G8 in the FT:

It stretches the most elastic mind to envisage the collective wrath of Scarlett Johansson, Annie Lennox, Bill Nighy, Kristin Davis and Her Majesty Queen Rania of Jordan, but it descended on the heads of the Group of Eight this weekend.

The obsolescence of the G8 has long been discussed during interminable and inconclusive international

Also posted in Aid policies and approaches, Badvocacy and celebs, Grand plans and aid targets, Organizational behavior | Tagged , , , , , | 14 Comments

Do only democracies have anti-immigrant movements?

This great picture on changing share of foreign-born residents in the NYT today (showing countries with largest increase):

You can see why anti-immigration sentiment is a big deal in the European countries shown and in the US. (This is a descriptive statement, I myself hate xenophobia.)

But what about the countries at the top of the graph? Let’s exclude the special and controversial case of Israel from all the following statements.

Correct me if…

Also posted in Democracy and freedom, In the news, Migration | Tagged | 10 Comments

US food aid policies create 561 jobs in Kansas, risk millions of lives around the world

I read recently the First Law of Policy Economics: Every inefficiency is someone’s income.

US food aid policy is definitely no exception, and it is riddled with inefficiencies.

Exhibit A: This invitation from a coalition of big US shipping interests to an event in Washington today. At this event, USA Maritime will have tried to convince lawmakers and their staff that ancient and outdated US food aid legislation, which requires virtually all US food aid…

Also posted in Aid policies and approaches, Disaster relief, Trade | Tagged , , , , | 18 Comments

Attention Chinese government, be sure to censor this

Great article in NYT Book Review by Emily Parker on the Chinese government successfully inhibiting academic freedom and freedom of speech in the West.

The Chinese-Canadian writer Denise Chong’s …  {2009} book, “Egg on Mao,” … tells the true story of Lu Decheng, who threw paint-filled eggs at Mao’s portrait in Tiananmen Square during the 1989 protests.  … A Canadian nonprofit economic development group that had invited her to appear at a fund-raiser began playing down its association

Also posted in Democracy and freedom, Human rights | 5 Comments

Climate Blowback: What I didn’t say was not what I didn’t mean not to say

My post criticizing Sachs on climate change got many negative responses yesterday. The main problem was that I was much too terse about an issue that people care a lot about (you should probably apply a “weekend discount” to things I post on weekends!). So some understandably jumped to conclusions about what I was saying, which were inaccurate.

Honestly, I know very little about climate change. But I do know a…

Tagged , | 5 Comments

Let’s show some compassion for gifted individuals like Secretary Clinton, whom politics forces to babble

clinton280This is my blog that just went up on the Foreign Policy web site on Hillary Clinton’s development speech today. There’s a positive ending! Plus my wife likes it!

MORNING UPDATE: News coverage of Hillary’s speech was overwhelmingly dominated by her plans to visit New Zealand. This supports one of two theories: (1) there was indeed too much babble, eliminating any newsworthiness, (2) the media doesn’t care about development.

UPDATE 2: Nick Kristof has a much more favorable…

Tagged , | 12 Comments

Underwear Bomber illustrates limit of “Do Something” approach to public policy, with aid application

One of the celebrities once said about global poverty, “just do something, even if it’s wrong.”

This approach is deeply appealing to politicians. Politicians love to show off to the public they are addressing a tragic problem by “doing something,” without having to bother with all that crap about “whether it actually works.”

The latest terrorism scare provoked by the Underwear Bomber prompted these profound insights into political economy. The New York Times reported a…

Tagged , , , | 12 Comments

The Political Economy of Aid Optimism or Pessimism

Bill and Melinda Gates are making a big media presentation today at 7pm of their Living Proof Project, in which they document aid successes in health. They call themselves “Impatient Optimists.” We can comment more after we hear their presentation. However, they invited comment already by posting progress reports on the Living Proof website.

Actually, we have also previously argued that aid has been more successful in health than in other…

Also posted in Data and statistics, Global health | 14 Comments