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The Role of the Celebrity Activist

The Role of the Celebrity Activist

Aaron Burr vs. Alexander Hamilton.  Nas vs. Jay-Z.  And now, Easterly vs. Bono.  In an attack reminiscent of Jon Stewart’s epic takedown of the sheepish Jim Cramer after the financial crisis, Bill Easterly, a well-known development economist who favors bottom-up approaches to development rather than top-down technocratic solutions, uses the 30-year anniversary of the assassination of John Lennon to lament the decline of good celebrity activism.  Summing up the comparison in a sentence, Easterly pens: Lennon was a rebel. Bono…

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The Aversion to Government-Run Development Programs

The Aversion to Government-Run Development Programs

Andrew Sullivan of The Altlantic writes a popular blog about politics, economics, culture, and anything else he finds interesting or relevant at the moment.  With 20-30 posts today, it has the depth of a traditional blog and the breadth of a link aggregator. The relative exposure he gives a subject depends on how much he likes the people who are writing about it.  He is a fiscal conservative and likes the idea of market-driven, bottom-up development.  Over the past year,…

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The Development Umbrella: Systems Trump Solutions

The Development Umbrella: Systems Trump Solutions

William Easterly is a development economist who runs the blog Aidwatchers.   When I read his posts, I imagine an exasperated and pragmatic man who has had it up to here with people misunderstanding and oversimplifying the problems he has devoted his life to solving.  His latest post, titled “The Answer is 42! Why Development is About Problem-Solving Systems, Not Solutions” fits this category well.   He explains exactly why some things work and some things don’t, and reveals the key to…

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The Volatility of $2 a Day

The Volatility of $2 a Day

Portfolios of the Poor: How the World Lives on $2 a Day has become one of the most talked-about book in the world of development.  It is an analysis of how poor – specifically, the poorest – people live.  The authors chronicle how people make and spend their money – tracking the inflows and outflows to better understand the daily routine.  The subjects keep detailed financial diaries of everything having to do with money in their lives.  The results are…

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