Indonesia | Economics

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Three books on helping poor countries

A fellow blogger (and economist) once said he hoped I'd review Robert Calderisi's The Trouble with Africa: Why Foreign Aid Isn't Working. Meanwhile, I've been wanting to review Easterly's The White Man's Burden – hopefully in the next two weeks or so. And, there is the Stiglitz-Charlton book on Fair Trade for All, whose arguments I am somewhat skeptical about – though, considering that it's written by a Noble Laureate (though from his work in neither trade nor development), it perhaps deserves a rereading (or not!). At any rate, all of these books were reviewed here by Financial Times's world trade editor.

Here is a sneak peek...:


The great unknown
By Alan Beattie
Published: July 7 2006 13:12

New plans to save the world enter a crowded field. Any fresh look at aid, trade, poverty and Africa will jostle for attention with the sweeping generalisations and soaring hubris of politicians and celebrities suggesting that the way to prosperity for developing countries is already known, and that only the will - expressed through ever more foreign aid - is needed.

In reality, the solutions to the problems of countries that are very poor and appear stuck that way, which mainly means sub-Saharan Africa, should fall emphatically into the category of a known unknown. The battlefield is littered with the bodies of simplistic theories about poverty and failure, for every one of which there is a contradiction. Africa is poor because it has had bloodstained and kleptomaniac dictators, for example, ignores the fact that so has Indonesia, whose record on growth and poverty reduction compares rather favourably with the self-confessed failure of Tanzania’s remarkably decent and honest Julius Nyerere.

Among the familiar prescriptions are: such countries need a fair deal; they need more aid and they need to do better at governing themselves. Two recent books - William Easterly’s The White Man’s Burden and Robert Calderisi’s The Trouble with Africa - lean towards the last of these. The first two are favoured by Joseph Stiglitz and Andrew Charlton in Fair Trade for All, published just before last December’s almost entirely futile Hong Kong ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organisation

»Go to the FT Article...

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