Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The ultimate optimist and the dismal science

This article extols Jeffrey Sachs excessively by labeling him as "long before ambition and optimism conspired to make him the Man Who Would Save the World, Jeffrey Sachs was merely the Man Who Would Save Bolivia." Also, now he has a new label: "Barack Obama of economics."

...Philosophically, his proposed remedies are more closely aligned with the left-leaning John Maynard Keynes than they are with Milton Friedman, but Mr. Sachs, who is also director of Columbia University's Earth Institute, has clearly been influenced by both.

...Like Mr. Friedman, he believes in market solutions for many economic issues - he just doesn't think that unfettered markets, left to their own devices, will lift Africans out of abject poverty or stamp out environmental degradation. These crises, he insists, require strong public policies to align private interests with the goals of sustainable development.

...He insists that the path to salvation lies in a multidisciplinary approach; private players must work with willing governments, academics, scientists and non-governmental organizations to create sustainable technologies.These technologies are where he places a great deal of faith - not merely in their ability to help contain some of the environmental damage (carbon capture sequestration is an example he's fond of citing) but to improve agricultural yields with more resistant, bountiful seeds.

Fixing the food crisis: he is obsessed with creation of multi-billion dollar fund (he did that in Bolivia and Poland but attributed the failure of reforms in Russia for a lack of stabilization fund to build confidence on the Russian currency).

  • Provide immediate funds to the FAO
  • End ethanol subsidies
  • Create $5 billion Fund to increase production in the poor countries
  • Improve agriculture (R&D)