Thursday, April 16, 2009


For any regular readers, I'm on a mini and enforced vacation from blogging for a while, while I work on grading for the next few weeks. I'll be back at the beginning of May. Hope spring time is wonderful for you, wherever you are.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Micro-blog: The crisis in economics, and in the global economy: A trio of readings

Here are a clutch of worthwhile readings. The first is a news story in the Boston Globe, discussing the current crisis in the economics profession, wrought by the crisis in the economy. The article is titled "Paradigm Lost". Now there's someone smart, punning on Milton and Thomas Kuhn in a two word phrase. Here is a link:

The next is an article in a similar vein, but focussed on the interesting question of whether economists are fixated excessively on the question of prediction. Here's the link:

The last is a weighty and sombre piece by the brilliant economist, philosopher, Nobel laureate, and generally wise personage, Amartya Sen, giving us his analysis of the current crisis in capitalism, going back to the history of the thing (which is always Adam Smith for us economists) and prognosticating broadly, all to good effect. Here's the link:

More on the above, when I've had a change to read and digest it. Alas, a stack of term papers beckons in the interim.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Micro-blog: The aid debate, with a new twist

One of the many topics I taught my graduate and senior undergraduate students this past academic year was the great "aid debate": is official development assistance (ODA), commonly known as "foreign aid", good or bad for the development process? The chief protagonist, pro, is Jeffrey Sachs, and, con, is William Easterly. Now there's a new player on the scene, echoing Easterly's message that aid does more harm than good and we should get rid of it. Here is a link to an interview:

So what's the difference? The new player on the scene is Dambisa Moyo. The name should give it away. For once, there's an important. provocative, and challenging new book an old subject, actually written by someone from the continent where debates about aid have been fiercest and where it is still most important, whether for good or ill. Zambian born and American and British educated (at Harvard and Oxford, no less), and a former member of the global macroeconomics research team at Goldman Sachs, Moyo is also easy on the eye and cuts a glamorous figure, if I can judge by her press photos. Not wanting to judge a book by its cover, so to speak, I've ordered it from Amazon, and will report back to you in this space after Ive had a chance to read and digest it. Stay tuned.

Friday, April 3, 2009

A new world order?

Well, the G20 summit in London is now in the books. Some are heralding the beginning of a new world order. Others saw it as yet another schmoozefest. I'm still trying to make up my mind. But for now, the BBC has a good summary of what happened, what was agreed to, and makes at least a credible case for the new world order thesis.

The New York times is more equivocal. Here's their coverage:

More from me, when I've figured out what I think is behind the headlines. In the meantime, please let me know what you think: new world order, or old wine in a new bottle?