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Today the industrialized world as a whole is embarked--half-heartedly I admit--on yet another crusade to try to make the poorer parts of the world rich The ideology behind this crusade--an ideology that I believe in--is called neoliberalism It has two guiding principles The first is that close economic contact between the industrial core and the developing periphery is the best way to accelerate the transfer of technology which is the sine qua non for making poor economies rich hence all barriers to international trade should be eliminated as fast as possible The second is that governments in general lack the capacity to run large industrial and commercial enterprises hence save for core missions of income distribution public-good infrastructure administration of justice and a few others governments should shrink and privatize However this neoliberal crusade is not the first such crusade for economic development Since World War II there have been at least six such crusades the building socialism crusade the financing gap crusade the import substitution crusade the aid for education crusade the oil money recycling crusade and the population boom crusade All of them failed to spark rapid economic development Does what went wrong then have any lessons to tell us about the future of the crusade we are undertaking now Yes--and now is a good time to take a look back at the history of crusades-for-development since World War II for World Bank economist Bill Easterly has just written The Elusive Quest for Growth his own take on the largely dismal history of government-led programs to spark development These different crusades in the past overlapped in time so there is no clear chronological sequence among them Among the first however was the building socialism crusade Easterly does not cover this his concern is with the quality of advice provided to developing countries by western economists But for much of the post-World War II period the idea that the Soviet Unions development strategy in
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