How badly is the crisis hitting the poorest countries? Here's what the IMF thinks

March 13, 2009

The Millennium Development Goals: what have they achieved? What next?

March 13, 2009

An intelligent debate on aid; watch as the world burns; why car-swapping aint green; the best newspaper on the crisis; how green is your stimulus? and how to blog at the G20: links I liked

March 13, 2009
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Dambisa Moyo and her bizarrely timed anti-aid message (aid bad, markets good) get a polite but highly effective kicking on the BBC’s aptly named Hard Talk programme, courtesy of Alison Evans, the incoming director of the Overseas Development Institute. Top quality TV, with a well briefed chair pushing both participants hard.

Alarming ‘Real-time’ stats on countries’ populations and tonnes of CO2 emitted from the moment you visit the site. Thanks to in-house statnerds Des Bravington and Richard King for this

The Guardian’s George Monbiot debunks the claim that swapping old cars for new ones is anything to do with the environment (rather than a lifeline to the auto companies)

The Financial Times is having a fantastic crisis – I switched over to it as my daily paper this week, which will annoy my kids-who-only-read-the-sports-section. Two examples – it has a nice interactive ‘what does each G20 government want’ graphic and a ‘how green is your stimulus’ analysis (see graphic).

Finally, I am now an official ‘G20 blogger’ – there will be a ‘bloggers’ tent’ at the London Summit of the G20 on 2 April where we will all furiously post away as the world crashes, melts and is (or is not) saved. If you want to join me, visit the site. 20 of the bloggers will be chosen by the public – so if you want to nominate (or be nominated), get moving now, as the hyperactive Global Dashboard has already done.


  1. Pretty obvious why, I would have thought. We’re facing a downturn in which every anti-aid argument is going to be leapt on as an excuse to cut aid budgets. What’s really frustrating is that when you engage with Moyo, Jonathan Glennie, William Easterly et al, you usually end up agreeing that the quantity issue is a bit of a red herring – the real prize is in improving quality. I think that’s where she and Allison got to in Hard Talk, but most media coverage never gets past the ‘bad aid’ tag.

  2. The issue is definitely not quality vs quantity. It is ownership of the problem. The aid industry has attempted to claim ownership, and currently tries – in the absence of efficient, transparent and democratic government in Africa – to dictate (IMF), by-pass (“pro-poor”), supervise (Sachs), patronise (Bono) or just muddle through with the same well-meaning agenda (et al). Do not begrudge Moyo her starting point that almost 50 years of aid have failed, dismally. It is starkly true. Not only has it not produced development, it has created dependancy and fuelled corruption. What Moyo and other, mainly African, intellectuals are trying to say, in the first instance, is that, whether we or they like it or not, African governments have to be forced by local economic and political forces to take full responsibility for the existing problems and the development of their people. It is only this dynamic – not external political, financial and moral incentives or pressures – that can or will deal with the problem. Africa needs to kick itself up the backside and get its act together. There is no other option. The issue for the aid industry is how to find a constructive, supportive role in this very difficult struggle.

  3. Dambisa Moyo’s case is ill-timed and the main thesis in her book is at best poorly argued. That said, do we really have the evidence to say she is “dead wrong?” After more than fifty years of aid, we still don’t have enough firm evidence that aid has any effect (positive or negative) effect on economic growth. It all depends on what your null hypothesis is. Those in the aid industry (understandably) have as their null that aid works. Moyo’s null is that aid hurts growth. Shouldn’t the null be that aid has no effect, and it is up to the proponents or the detractors to convince us otherwise?

    As Duncan says, quality of aid is a major issue, but what if quality and quantity are complements?

  4. Bill, I entirely agree with you – the issue, as From Poverty to Power argues, is one of building effective states and active citizens. Aid is good if it helps that process, bad if it hinders it, and in practice it can do either. I find ‘all aid is good’ messages just as annoying as ‘all aid is bad’ ones, believe me, but at the moment, it’s the second category that are doing all the publishing (Jeff Sachs seems to be taking a breather….)

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