Sunday, June 27, 2010

Debate on Dead Aid

I just finished reading Dead Aid by Dambisa Moyo.

Her primary thesis is that not only has aid not helped to end poverty (a view also held by William Easterly: The White Man's Burden and The Elusive Quest for Growth, Peter Bauer, and others) but on balance, aid does more harm than good.

Moyo has a PhD in economics, interestingly obtained under the tutelage of foreign aid advocate, Dr. Paul Collier (The Bottom Billion).

The book is short and quickly glosses over multiple topics. For someone unfamiliar with the history and controversies surrounding foreign aid, this book could be one good place to start --but as a defense of her thesis, it falls short. Her arguments are plausible, especially for someone already skeptical of government intervention into economic affairs. A convincing presentation, however, would require much more empirical data and analysis in order to substantiate the claims.

Wanting to obtain an opposing point of view, I asked my favorite Keynesian for his recommendation--and he sent me the link to Stephen Lewis' segment in the following debate. I highly recommend watching at least the opening statements of this star panel which in addition to Lewis includes Moyo, Collier and Hernando de Soto (The Mystery of Capital).

The 2009 Munk Debates: "Be it resolved, foreign aid does more harm than good"

Part 2 of 15

Part 3 of 15

Part 4 of 15

Part 5 of 15


garret seinen said...
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garret seinen said...

Fascinating post Beth. I'll be sure to look at these presentations when time permits. Right now I just want to say it doesn't require a scholarly review to see the travesty that all "aid", foreign, domestic and individual, inevitably brings on.

Most people ignore the fact that money is probable the greatest training tool ever invented. If we want to see more of a particular activity, just start paying to have it done. The reverse is just as true. Harmful activities seldom continue for long after there is no longer any remuneration for doing those activities. Foreign aid is really just encouraging payments for counter-productive activities.