Review: Sach’s The End of Poverty

The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for Our Time
Jeffery Sachs
You, being a smart person who is up on contemporary debates in economics and development and/or are a reader of Vanity Fair, probably already know all about Jeffrey Sachs.

Sachs made his name giving “shock therapy” to various third world economies. He recommended they jack up interest rates, and pushed them towards neo-liberal free market structures. His career hit a bit of a bad patch when he was associated with the economic meltdown of the former Soviet Socialist Republic. This book is his recommendations for development in Africa.

Sach’s ideas are, at base, pretty simple – Sub-Saharan Africa needs lots and lots more aid. This aid should be put to use curing easily defeatable diseases and establishing local agrarian and eventually manufacturing economies. Right wing types who say that more aid won’t fix the problem are wrong. That’s about it.

I think Sach’s has this all about half right. More aid is a good idea, but alone, and in the style he suggests, I doubt it will lead to an end to poverty. Paul Collier’s more nuanced book The Bottom Billion, gives a better battle plan for dealing with seriously fucked countries. Sach’s plan is a little too throw-money-at-the-problem for me.

Still, this book is worth a read. If you’re going to think about world poverty now a days, you’re going to have to know this book. He is by far the biggest name in the field. He may not always be right, but he’s a player that you need to know about.

Recommended for the enthusiast.

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