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The Elusive Quest for Growth: Economists' Adventures and Misadventures in the Tropics Paperback – August 8, 2002
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William Easterly knows his way not only around economics but also around the developing world. He has written a hard-nosed book about the hardest problem of all: how to get the poorest countries on a path of sustained growth.(Robert M. Solow, Institute Professor of Economics, Emeritus, MIT, and Nobel Laureate in Economics)
This is a brilliant, original work. It is simply the best book I know on economic development. Easterly writes with clarity, honesty, and humor. And he is courageous in his analysis of what went wrong with the development policies followed by the World Bank.(Sergio Rebelo, Tokai Bank Distinguished Professor of International Finance, Kellogg Graduate School of Management, Northwestern University)
A highly readable and iconoclastic treatment of the determinants of economic growth.(Richard N. Cooper Foreign Affairs)
It is impossible to convey the depth and range of The Elusive Quest for Growth.(Bruce Bartlett The Wall Street Journal)
Every college student who protests against free trade and every young economist who builds models of development should read this extraordinary book. Easterly presents both the power of simple economic models of the development process and the painfully disappointing track record of official development assistance. He writes beautifully and cares deeply about his subject.(Paul Romer, Graduate School of Business, Stanford University)
Curing emerging market poverty is on everyone's list of priorities along with peace on earth. Yet the success has been dismal. This powerful book may help cure the ignorance of people with pat answers, do-gooders, the Seattle-Prague crowd, and economists who have neglected to keep up with the evidence. Far from dry, the book takes you to the scene, gives you the local color, and challenges you to concede that a lot of your prejudices are just that -- yet in the process does not throw economics overboard. Brilliant!(Rudi Dornbusch, Ford Professor of Economics and International Management, MIT)
About the Author
William Easterly is the author of The Elusive Quest for Growth: Economists' Adventures and Misadventures in the Tropics (MIT Press, 2001) and The White Man's Burden: Why the West's Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good. He is Professor of Economics at New York University (Joint with Africa House), Codirector of NYU's Development Research Institute, visiting Fellow at the Brookings Institution, and Nonresident Fellow of the Center for Global Development in Washington, DC.
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Top Customer Reviews
William Easterly is a Senior Advisor in the Development Research Group of the World Bank. In his first book, he asks why trillion dollars of foreign aid to the countries of the "third world" since WWII have caused essentially no improvement in the quality of life for the people in these countries. I found the writing lucid and the many real stories of poverty and corruption both emotionally powerful and insightful.
Emphasizing a key mantra of economics -- people respond to incentives -- he details the long list of foreign aid tactics that have failed: capital investment (machines, factories, roads), education, birth control, loans, and loan forgiveness. Not that any of the tactics are bad, but rather they are ineffectual in a country lacking key social, political, and economic infrastructure.
Easterly then describes in detail the factors at play in driving growth: increasing returns (Leaks, Matches, Traps), creative destruction through technology, luck, governments kill growth, government corruption, and class and race conflicts.
Easterly shows that achieving economic growth is very difficult, but he does a great job of identifying the key systemic issues that poor countries must address.
Perhaps surprisingly, Easterly's model applies equally well to the economic disparities that exist within countries, even "rich" countries like the United States.Read more ›
While one can quibble with the specifics of some of his analysis, the overall effect is a compelling, authoritative book that makes it impossible to avoid facing the fact that the current aid framework needs a radical overhaul. The aid industry has spent about 1 trillion dollars over the last forty years, and the returns have been disappointing. Fortunately, Easterly points the way toward the beginning of a new wardrobe. There's bad news and good news. The bad news is that nearly all of the theories that drive the design of aid programs are not borne out by the experience to date. Most fundamentally, the formal mathematical models underlying the macroeconomic analyses of organizations such as the World Bank and IMF are built on two plausible but wrong assumptions.
The first of these is that investment drives growth. Unfortunately, the record shows that investment only drives growth in those few cases where it is made in conjunction with appropriate technology, know-how, and a sound overall economic policy environment. The second wrong assumption is that aid increases investment. Extensive analysis indicates that most governments simply consume rather than invest the aid they receive.Read more ›
Easterly's aim - in which he succeeds brilliantly - is to show the self-defeating nature of most conventional prescriptions for development, notably foreign aid, investment in technology, education, population control and debt forgiveness. Against all these chimeras - many, if not all, of which, are desirable in their own right in some circumstances - he poses the economic common sense of provision of incentives. The argument is complex but two of Easterley's observations are especially worth noting.
The professional (and almost always economically-untrained) development lobbyists are fond of arguing that what they tendentiously call the neo-liberal consensus ignores the poorest. Easterley demonstrates that this is untrue, citing the work of David Dollar and Aart Kray of the World Bank, who have found that global poverty is attributable, rather, to lack of growth. Using statistical techniques to isolate the direction of causation, these analysts find that a 1 per cent increase in per capita growth in the developing countries causes a 1 per cent rise in the incomes of the poor.
Secondly, debt cancellation has become a fashionable cause for development lobbyists and the Churches - unaware, apparently, that the idea has been tried for at least 20 years (I recall it very well from my time at the Debt and Capital Markets Group at the Bank of England in the 1980s) and has resulted in a self-perpetuating cycle of bad lending.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book did a great job of laying out the problems which plague development in the third world. It did so without relying on rhetoric as a central theme, which was amazing.Published 6 months ago by Lynch96
a good survey of the obstacles for development supported by a lifetime of experience in the service of the world bank by a practicing development economist. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Oele A. P.
A much better analysis of the African aid problem than The White Man's Burden, which gets all the publicity primarily I suspect because of the title.Published 18 months ago by Julie C. Wang