Friday, October 3, 2008

Wall Street Bail-out and Economic Development

With the recent financial crisis in the United States, most of the debate we hear currently entails whether or not the government should be involved in some sort of bail-out. While this would be a major intervention, William Easterly, in a today's op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, says that the U.S. will still remain largely capitalistic and the domestic effect is not the largest worry. To Dr. Easterly, the issue at hand is what message this policy choice sends to developing countries' governments. While we may be choosing between some or more intervention, he contends that developing nations are choosing between free markets and government planning for economic growth.

For better or worse, our actions and beliefs today will affect the policies for many years to come of these countries. The point Easterly makes is an important one, and echos that of F.A. Hayek in "The Intellectuals and Socialism". Whether you agree or disagree with government intervention, it is difficult to ignore the importance of the role our policy decisions play in steering developing governments' future actions.

If any of you feel inspired by this issue or any development issues, there will be an opportunity for you to share your ideas to other students and non-profit organizations in an upcoming conference at Mason. A private consulting firm Midego Inc. from Fairfax, Virginia will be co-hosting the conference with the student group Global Health Students Beyond Borders in February. Here is more info:

"The conference is entitled "Breaking with Business As Usual" and the purpose of the conference is to bring together students and professionals from all disciplines to discuss and develop strategies to reach the Millennium Development Goals.

If you are not familiar with the MDGs, they are a set of 8 health, welfare and environmental sustainability goals set by the United Nations in the year 2000 and are aimed at improving the lives of the world's poorest by improving issues related to education, poverty, public health and environmental degradation. Most of the worlds' governments have pledged to supporting these goals, but are falling short in delivering on that promise. In order to move towards them innovative strategies must be developed.

We are calling for student poster or oral presentations - abstracts are due November 30th - see the attached guidlines. This is a 250 word abstract for either a poster or 10-minute presentation. Your ideas do not have to be tested and proven, we're looking for new, innovative strategies. Take a look at the list of the MDG and their targets and I think you'll see a lot that economic students would be interested in. Ideas I can think of off hand are providing micro-loans for small businesses, balancing economic growth with environmental conservation,and dealing with debt problems in developing nations. "

I know that many of you could offer new thinking on these topics, and I plan to propose a talk for the conference as well. If any of you have any questions about this conference or wish to get the application, you can email the Econ Society at or email Midego Inc at .

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