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Sun Jan 20, 2013, 11:34 AM

President Obama puts his stamp on global development (foreign policy isn't war)

Esther Duflo

by Daniel Gross

Obama taps poverty’s ‘rock star.’

in the first week of January, most of America’s best-known economists were in San Diego, thronging the American Economic Association’s annual meeting at the Manchester Grand Hyatt resort. But one of the profession’s sharpest young economic minds, Esther Duflo, was off doing fieldwork in India.

Duflo, 40, is enjoying quite a run. Born and raised in France, she arrived at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1995 to pursue a Ph.D.; in 2009 she won a MacArthur “genius” grant; then in 2010 took home the John Bates Clark Medal, given to the best economist under the age of 40. Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty, coauthored with her partner (and father of her child), Abhijit V. Banerjee, won the 2011 Financial Times/Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year Award. And then in late December, she was nominated for a post on the White House’s new Global Development Council, an entity designed to rationalize the government’s approach to foreign aid. “She’s an absolute rock star,” said Dean Karlan, professor of economics at Yale University and a colleague. “She’s a great example of the new wave of development economists—people who are really bright and dedicated to theory, but are driven by improving the world around them.”

Development economics has long been a contentious field tied up with geopolitics, ideology, and bitter, ego-driven feuds. Duflo and her colleagues have sought to defuse the dispute between what they call the “supply wallahs”—folks like Columbia’s Jeffrey Sachs who believe that the poor simply need more resources—and the “demand wallahs,” experts like New York University’s William Easterly who believe that top-down aid programs don’t work.

Instead of endlessly debating ideology, Duflo and company pursue empirical evidence. The method they embrace is the scientific one, employing randomized trials, with one group of patients getting the economic “treatment,” the other a placebo. As Duflo put it: “If we don’t know whether doing any good, we are not any better than the medieval doctors and their leeches.”

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This follows the President's nomination of Jim Kim to the World Bank.

Doctor's World Bank Nomination Signals Renewed Development Focus

By: Ray Suarez

President Obama announced the nomination of Dr. Jim Yong Kim, a physician and the president of Dartmouth College, to the presidency of the World Bank on Friday. If confirmed, Kim would succeed Robert Zoellick as the leader of this important lending institution based in Washington, D.C. The nod must come as a surprise to bank watchers around the world. Kim's name had not appeared on any short lists circulating in the media in the weeks leading up to the appointment deadline.

Kim would succeed a long line of economists and career government employees at the helm of the World Bank, which was created in the waning days of the WWII to begin the rebuilding of a ravaged world.

So, why not a central banker? Why not a career economist? Why not a conventional "green eyeshade" guy or gal to run the place? Zoellick's tenure at the bank capped a long economics career in and out of government service: Treasury Department deputy assistant secretary for Financial Institution Policy, executive vice president of Fannie Mae, U.S. trade representative.


Considering the bank's role as an international economic development agency, the selection of Kim over, for example, former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers, starts to make more sense. Kim is a co-founder and former executive director of Partners in Health, which has grown from its focus on rural Haiti to implementing programs across the world's poorest countries aimed at improving basic health services. The Harvard-education physician served two years as head of the World Health Organization's HIV/AIDS department and has been an international leader in anti-tuberculosis policy. Kim is also a co-founder of the Global Health Delivery Project, which seeks to build new systems for providing basic health services to populations in poverty.

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Krugman on Kim:

...But when I heard about the (inspired) choice of Jim Kim for the Bank’s presidency, I immediately saw it. Kim is a co-founder of Partners in Health, an organization profiled in Tracy Kidder’s Mountains Beyond Mountains.


Whenever people talk foreign policy, it's always about war. There is a better way.

Feed the Future is the United States Government's global hunger and food security initiative

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Reply President Obama puts his stamp on global development (foreign policy isn't war) (Original post)
ProSense Jan 2013 OP
hedda_foil Jan 2013 #1
ProSense Jan 2013 #2
ProSense Jan 2013 #3
L0oniX Jan 2013 #4
ProSense Jan 2013 #5
ProSense Jan 2013 #6

Response to hedda_foil (Reply #1)

Sun Jan 20, 2013, 12:31 PM

2. Thanks.

This isn't as appealing as discussing war.

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Response to L0oniX (Reply #4)

Sun Jan 20, 2013, 01:10 PM

5. Thanks.

I was beginning to think that no one else cares about these initiatives.

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Response to ProSense (Reply #5)

Sun Jan 20, 2013, 02:17 PM

6. Guess I was wrong. n/t

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