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The Elusive Quest for Growth - Economists Adventures & Misadventure in the Tropics [Anglais] [Broché]

William Easterly

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The Elusive Quest for Growth - Economists Adventures & Misadventure in the Tropics + Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity and Poverty + Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty
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Since the end of World War II, economists have tried to figure out how poor countries in the tropics could attain standards of living approaching those of countries in Europe and North America. Attempted remedies have included providing foreign aid, investing in machines, fostering education, controlling population growth, and making aid loans as well as forgiving those loans on condition of reforms. None of these solutions has delivered as promised. The problem is not the failure of economics, William Easterly argues, but the failure to apply economic principles to practical policy work.In this book Easterly shows how these solutions all violate the basic principle of economics, that people--private individuals and businesses, government officials, even aid donors--respond to incentives. Easterly first discusses the importance of growth. He then analyzes the development solutions that have failed. Finally, he suggests alternative approaches to the problem. Written in an accessible, at times irreverent, style, Easterly's book combines modern growth theory with anecdotes from his fieldwork for the World Bank.

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The typical rate of infant mortality in the richest fifth of countries is 4 out of every 1,000 births; in the poorest fifth of countries, it is 200 out of every 1,000 births. Lire la première page
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Amazon.com: 4.3 étoiles sur 5  76 commentaires
183 internautes sur 191 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 There are no easy answers to third world growth 17 décembre 2001
Par Benjamin Slivka - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Achat authentifié par Amazon
For 5/6ths of the people of Earth, life is a daily struggle for basic needs: food, shelter, medicine. Infant mortality rates are high, women are oppressed, and individuals have limited opportunities to improve their lot.
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. The increasing returns model says that highly-skilled people will prefer to live and work with one another ("Matches"), as each of them will be more productive for being around other highly-skilled individuals. So this explains, for example, why areas like Silicon Valley, having once achieved critical mass, continue to grow. And why low-income inner-city and rural areas remain depressed ("Traps").
128 internautes sur 135 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 The Emperor's Clothes 26 août 2001
Par D. B Whittle - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Achat authentifié par Amazon
The Elusive Quest for Growth, by Bill Easterly, a senior advisor in the research department of the World Bank, is a must read for anyone interested in global development. Its appeal lies in its unprecedented reach and candor in surveying the assumptions and theories underlying the development assistance provided by richer countries and international agencies to poorer countries. Easterly's conclusion is that the emperor (the international aid industry) has almost no clothes.
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. The striking thing about these two faulty pillars of the development paradigm is that even the best aid organizations continue to use a framework that they know is wrong. Easterly also takes a sober look at fads that have swept through the field of development. The first of these is education. Many people argued that investment in basic education is the key to stimulating growth, and this has led to massive investments and high hopes. Unfortunately, in retrospect the evidence shows little correlation between education investment and growth.
The same holds true with population control, where the link between population dynamics and growth has proven to be far more complex that originally expected. Easterly does not conclude that the evidence shows that education or population planning is unimportant; to the contrary, they can be effective but only in a broader context where other important conditions are also present.
What are some of these broader conditions that must be in place? Fortunately, we have made some progress in understanding what helps counties develop economically and socially. In particular, there is strong evidence that economic growth is the best way of reducing poverty in developing countries. Contrary to what many think, a one percent increase in overall income in a country tends to translate into a one percent increase in the income of the poorest. And we do know that economic growth itself requires countries to maintain policies that avoid certain pitfalls-in particular, high inflation and budget deficits, excessive black market premiums for their local currencies, negative real interest rates, corruption, and restrictive trade policies.
If we know at least the minimum policies required for growth and poverty reduction, then why don't most countries adopt them? Thus began another chapter in the history of development aid. Beginning in the 1980s, the World Bank, IMF, and others launched a large number of 'structural adjustment' programs designed to support countries' adoption of these policies.
Twenty years later, it is clear, however, that many of these programs were ineffective. There is little evidence that aid has had any influence on countries' policies. Instead, policies seem to be driven by the self-interest of the policy makers and the interests they represent. Easterly's refrain in the book is that 'people respond to incentives,' and this is clearly true at the macro-policy level as well as the household level.
One leading edge of thinking about development draws on the simple observation that people tend to associate with people like themselves. Well educated people with access to financial resources, technology, and know-how-some of the main ingredients for economic growth-tend to congregate with and learn from each other. This creates a virtuous cycle for them. Unfortunately the same dynamics hold for the poor. The poor, who tend to be less well educated, have less access to financial resources, technology, and know-how, also tend to congregate with each other. Consequently, the opportunities for learning, investment, and growth are lower. This raises the obvious question of how we can increase interaction between rich and poor, between the more advantaged and less advantaged.
This leads us to the current state of affairs, and ironically offers hope for a common ground between traditional policy economists and the critics of aid and globalization. Many of the critics are implicitly or explicitly arguing against corruption and/or policies that are implemented in a way that make the rich richer and the poor poorer-something that the policy economists agree with. Few people nowadays would disagree on the desirability of low inflation and budget deficits, a fairly valued currency, interest rates that encourage savings, and trade policies that don't force consumer to overpay and that give incentives for people to produce and export goods that can generate wealth.
The real issue is: How do we get governments to adopt these policies? And how can countries put in place the institutional capacity and governance arrangements that will ensure that good policies are fairly implemented? And how can we increase the direct connections between rich people and poor people?
These are as much political and social challenges as they are economic ones. And they require the policy economists and social activists not to butt their heads together, but to put their heads together to find a solution.
39 internautes sur 39 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 No Easy Answers 19 avril 2003
Par Un client - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
An economist at the World Bank, Easterly looks back at the dismal economic record of the Third World over the last 40 years and distills lesssons to guide donors and policymakers in the future. He is at his best when dissecting failed policies such as population control or structural adjustment loans, which were embraced by development experts of the day but rested on faulty logic and flopped in practice. The rest of his book contains fascinating, nuanced discussions of how bad governance, "poverty traps," and plain bad luck (such as terms of trade shocks) can keep poor countries trapped in vicious cycles of poverty. Many myths are exploded, such as the belief that poor nations are destined to "catch up" with rich ones, or that international investment flows to capital-poor states in an effort to find higher returns. The text is clearly written and filled with wry humor. However, the failure to discuss how "Asian Tigers" such as Korea, Singapore, and Taiwan broke out of poverty and achieved industrial take off -- at one point, Easterly half-seriously cites "good luck" as a key explanation for their 30-year record of sustained economic growth! -- is a glaring hole and results in my rating of only four stars.
39 internautes sur 43 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Deft deflation of myths 17 novembre 2001
Par Oliver Kamm - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
This is surely the most important book published in the field of development economics for many years. The author, who is Senior Adviser to the Development Research Group at the World Bank, is highly familiar with economic theory and empirical research, and is able to expound his knowledge in an engaging and jargon-free manner.
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. Eaterley's proposal is to tie lending to past performance (i.e. good economic management) to give Third World governments an incentive to pursue growth-creating policies. The alernative - unconditional debt forgiveness - would damage Third World living standards by ensuring a rise in developing countries' cost of capital. Easterley does not spell it out, but affluent western campaigners' demanding a course of action that the Third World would end paying a high cost for is not the most edifying of spectacles.
This book puts paid to much self-serving nonsense. It is a rare gem in a quarry of dross.
20 internautes sur 21 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 A simple and revealing exposition of development economics 28 octobre 2002
Par Saleem Ali - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché|Achat authentifié par Amazon
This book is likely to spur immense controversy, specially in the current climate of anti-globalization protests. Easterly provides a telling history of well-intentioned but somewhat misguided and didactic development efforts since the Bretton Woods conference. The book speckles careful theoretical exposition with lively anecdotes and "intermezzos" of personal stories from the developing world. This gives the book a humane touch that is often lacking in most economics books.
My only problem with the book is that the author is still rather hung up on the singularity of growth as the panacea for allevaiting poverty. While growth could be sufficent condition for alleviating poverty in many cases it might not be a necessary condition in all cases. The author also neglects environmental concerns that are often not properly internalized in short-term growth models.
I am also wondering what the World Bank establishment have to say about this. Some of the conclusions are so simple, that I am left to wonder why didn't all these smart people "get it?" Perhaps the Bank has its own set of counter-arguments for Easterle's specific examples, which I will continue to explore.
Nevertheless, this is a good read and gives much food for thought.
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