Poor people are poor because markets fail them and governments fail them. That markets fail them is well-known. Failures in capital markets mean that young people cannot get loans to finance their education; imperfect or nonexistent insurance markets mean that poor people will not get decent health care if left to unfettered markets; economies of scale as well as the simple fact that basic services such as water are necessities mean that markets will not ensure that poor people will get the services they need to survive. As
We had a fascinating seminar on this topic yesterday. Goolam Ballin of Standard Bank said that Africa today looks like Asia did 20 years ago--poised to grow rapidly over the next two decades. At the same time, he was worried about the next two years because of Africa's dismal experience in adjusting to the external shocks of the 1970s. Nigerian central bank governor Chukwuma Soludo struck a distinctly more optimistic note, pointing out that, for example, Nigeria's non-oil sector was growing even
Chris Blattman is right to question my enthusiasm for information as the solution to seemingly intractable development problems. (By the way, thanks for the complimentary plug for AfricaCan, Chris). Information by itself is not useful unless people can do something with it.