As Paul Theroux said about listening to Paul Hewson – who calls himself “Bono” –
There are probably more annoying things than being hectored about African development by a wealthy Irish rock star in a cowboy hat, but I can’t think of one at the moment.
The foreign aid debate brings out strong opinions. In one corner we have Jeffrey Sachs (The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for Our Time), an academic with a Bono-like knack for self-promotion who thinks that aid works, and in the other, William Easterley (The White Man’s Burden: Why the West’s Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good), a former World Bank aid professional who thinks it doesn’t.
There is a very good summary of the debate in Financial Times (link here). It also mentions the recent books by Robert Calderisi, and Joseph Stiglitz and Andrew Charlton.
One interesting author is not mentioned. It is Ha-Joon Chang, who teaches economics at University of Cambridge (Kicking Away the Ladder: Policies and Institutions for Economic Development in Historical Perspective). Chang argues against free market fundamentalism, practically all currently industrialized nations used pervasive state intervention in their periods of industrialization. The “Washington Consensus” policies are designed not to help poor countries develop into modern economies but to lock in the advantages of the present industrial leaders.
Update: Read also this article on Chang, http://www.newamerica.net/index.cfm?pg=article&DocID=1080 and this article by William Easterly with advice to Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, 4 Ways To Spend $60 Billion Wisely.