Easterly on Africa

by F.

I haven’t read Easterly’s new book White Man’s Burden yet (though I’m going to be doing an article on it shortly), but if his opinion piece in yesterday’s WSJ is any indication, it should be good:

Africa’s poverty trap is well covered in the media, since it features such economists as Angelina Jolie, Madonna, Bono and Brad Pitt. But even Bill Gates, at an appearance at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland in January 2007, expressed indifference to Africa’s stagnant GDP, since “you can’t eat GDP.” Mr. Gates apparently missed the economics class that listed the components of GDP, such as food.

Even better is this one:

The cowed IMF and the World Bank never mention the words “free market” in thousands of pages devoted to ending poverty. Even the World Bank’s 2005 World Development Report “A Better Investment Climate for Everyone” doesn’t mention the forbidden words.World Bank economists are so scared of offending anyone on Africa that they recite tautologies. The press release describing the findings of the 2006 World Bank report “Challenges of African Growth” announces: the “single most important reason” for Africa’s “lagging position in eradicating poverty,” finally “has been identified.” It is “Africa’s slow and erratic growth.” The next World Bank report may reveal that half a dozen beers has been identified as the single most important reason for a six-pack.

This is just good writing.