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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

Posted in Democracy and freedom | Tagged , | 50 Comments

US gets a strategy to meet the Millennium Development Goals – please explain

UPDATE: UN Dispatch disagrees, we respond (see end of post).

Although the eight goals that seek to reduce the global burden of hunger, poverty and disease were agreed upon by aid donors almost 10 years ago, and most of the goals come due in 2015, the world’s largest donor has never had a strategy to achieve them. Obama campaigned on the promise of making the MDGs “America’s goals,” but the first year and a half…

Posted in Grand plans and aid targets | Tagged , , | 8 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, and Dennis Whittle at Global Giving (please let me know if I left anyone out).…

Posted in Big ideas | Tagged , | 47 Comments


Esther Duflo is having a good month, first the John Bates Clark medal for best economist under 40, and now a new profile in the New Yorker. It’s great to see development economists appearing in the New Yorker (link to abstract, full article alas requires subscription).

Esther is very deserving of this recognition. Anyone who gets hundreds of other academics and researchers approaching things in a new way (“randomized controlled trials” to measure…

Posted in Metrics and evaluation | 17 Comments

Jeff Sachs’ intellectual empire gets new funding

There’s a new way to study development: a masters degree in the practice of development.

The MacArthur Foundation announced ten universities to receive funding for the new degree program yesterday, bringing the funding from MacArthur for this project to $16 million. The first students matriculated at Columbia University in 2009, and by 2013 the foundation expects the programs to be producing 400 graduates a year from around the world.

The two-year degree is multidisciplinary—the…

Posted in Grand plans and aid targets, In the news | Tagged , , , , | 12 Comments

Goldman was hedging–how evil!!!!

According to the Washington Post:

Goldman admits it had reduced its exposure to the overheated U.S. property market and had sought to limit possible losses through a strategy that would make money if home prices fell. It says such “hedging” is a routine part of its business and is intended to moderate risk to the firm, an especially vital function when markets shift violently, as they did in 2008.

The Post puts “hedging” in…

Posted in Economics principles, In the news | Tagged , , | 13 Comments

Criticism of Sachs video withdrawn

The links in our post Another blog criticizes a video by a certain famous economist have gone dead, and the critical post on the other blog site has been deleted.  They made this statement in direct communication:

The original post author has deleted the post, finding his words a bit too harsh and annoyance misplaced.

The original Sachs video, which was produced as part of a series by Ericsson,  is here.

Posted in In the news | Tagged , | 8 Comments

Another blog criticizes a video by a certain famous economist

Update 4/13/10: see Aid Watch post above

From post:

Sachs has a new video out about ending global poverty, and I find it very disturbing…..Sachs (and all the white people) sitting in very nice, even posh settings, but black people are filmed from a car in poverty settings. Does that mean we can take time and get face-to-face with whites, but best to stay in the car and drive by black people

Posted in Aid policies and approaches, Cognitive biases | Tagged | 3 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…

Posted in Political economy | Tagged , | 5 Comments

Debating Sachs: the Next Generation

I am reluctant these days to post any criticisms of Jeff Sachs, since I know many people are tired of this never-ending back and forth. But I make an exception when my own daughter asks me to take him on.

I want to protect her privacy and not involve her directly in what is at times a nasty debate, so let me just says she is a college junior who has studied and thought a lot about the…

Posted in Cognitive biases | Tagged , , | 14 Comments