Jeffrey Sachs on Charter Cities and How to Reform Graduate Economics Education | Convos with Tyler
In a stimulating dialogue, economist Jeffrey Sachs and Tyler Cowen delve into a range of topics including the resource curse, the contrasting economic transitions of Russia and Poland, the concept of charter cities, and the future of China and Africa.
They also discuss the potential of Africa to overcome the middle income trap, the need for reform in graduate economics education, and the issue of premature deindustrialization.
Economic Transitions: Poland vs Russia
Poland’s successful transition post-Soviet era can be attributed to its integration into the European Union, which provided a clear direction and institutional support.
Conversely, Russia’s failure is attributed to its reliance on oil, lack of clear direction, and absence of institutional support, underscoring the importance of strategic planning and support in economic transitions.
Dual Role of Institutions in Development
Institutions play a dual role in development.
They are crucial for ‘catching up’, where countries lagging in development try to catch up to more advanced economies, and for innovation.
The requirements for these two processes are different, highlighting the need for adaptable and flexible institutional structures.
Paul Rosenstein-Rodan’s ‘Big Push’ Theory
Paul Rosenstein-Rodan’s concept of the ‘big push’, a coordinated effort to modernize various sectors of an economy simultaneously, is a significant contribution to development economics.
His shift from Austrian economics to a more holistic approach underscores the importance of comprehensive strategies in economic development.
Charter Cities: A Double-Edged Sword
Charter cities, governed by external boards, are a controversial concept.
While they allow for experimentation with different approaches, they are often criticized as politically unrealistic.
This highlights the need for innovative yet feasible solutions in urban development.
China’s in a catching-up mode. The institutions of catching up are quite different from the institutions of being the technology leader, for example. Just understanding that would give them a little more clarity about institutions, per se. – Jeffrey Sachs
China’s Economic Future: A Reason for Optimism
Despite challenges such as corruption, there is reason for optimism about China’s economic future.
Understanding the difference between institutions in ‘catching-up mode’ and those of a technology leader can provide clarity about the potential trajectory of China’s economy.
Need for Interdisciplinary Approach in Economics Education
Economics education should be more interdisciplinary, incorporating elements of history, politics, and geography.
This would enable a better understanding of complex systems and foster a more engaged interaction with the real world, preparing economists for the multifaceted challenges they will face.
Premature Deindustrialization: A Challenge for Africa
Premature deindustrialization is a significant issue for Africa.
While manufacturing is not inherently advantageous, exporting is crucial for developing countries.
Africa could potentially focus on exporting services, mining, or agribusiness, highlighting the need for strategic planning in economic development.
Overcoming the Middle Income Trap
The middle income trap, where countries achieve a certain level of income but get stuck before reaching high-income status, is a significant challenge.
However, with the right strategies and tools, it is possible for countries like those in Africa to overcome this trap, underscoring the importance of strategic planning and policy implementation.
Literary Insights: ‘War and Peace’
Sachs’s favorite novel, ‘War and Peace’ by Leo Tolstoy, offers deep insights into human nature and the complexities of life.
Literature can provide valuable perspectives and understandings that can be applied to various fields, including economics.