NYU’s Bill Easterly, whose early alliance with CGD’s Lant Pritchett and other critics of Jim Kim has moderated over the past few weeks, has posted an important and carefully-reasoned contribution in defence of Dr Kim, and why Lant and his fellow travelers have it wrong.
Gregg Gonsalves, a long time AIDS activist and an Open Society Foundations Fellow, points out that traditional economists are backing the status quo, a top-down approach to development, informed by theory and academic practice. It is not an incorrect approach, but an incomplete one. He posits that there are
economists who recognize that their field is contingent, more inexact, and are raising serious questions about the rigor of their assumptions, about over-reliance on models, the need for a far better quality of evidence, far beyond the sub-specialty of global development. These are the kinds of people, the fresh voices and thinking, one could see coming to the Bank under Kim’s leadership. Kim is also trained as an anthropologist as well; he knows there a variety of tools with which to see the world as long as you know their limitations.
Without taking a position on the certitude that Pritchett and others have expressed over the last few weeks, on blogs and in articles responsible magazines have picked up, it’s also fair to say that Ngozi and Ocampo are both more in the orthodoxy of top-down development economics, something both their records as ministers would make them comfortable with and likely to pursue were either of them appointed World Bank president.
That Ngozi and Ocampo not been more critically assessed by the punditocracy, who all say they want change, is easier to understand when placed under Gonsolves’ thoughtful lens.