Paul Collier, fully Sir Paul Collier

Collier, fully Sir Paul Collier

Professor of Economics and Public Policy at the Blavatnik School of Government, Director for the Centre for the Study of African Economies at the University of Oxford, Director of the Development Research Group of the World Bank

Author Quotes

A head of government should not be leading an aid campaign; rather, he or she should be forcing policy coordination across the government.

Another dysfunctional aspect of rich-country trade policy is tariff escalation: the tariffs on processed materials are higher than on the unprocessed materials. This makes it harder for the countries of the bottom billion to diversify their exports by processing their raw materials before exporting them. It hurts us and impedes the development of countries that are already facing enough impediments.

Generally, I do not much care for rich-country wallowing in guilt over development. I find it contrived, and it diverts attention from a practical agenda. Citizens of the rich world are not to blame for most of the problems of the bottom billion; poverty is simply the default option when economies malfunction. However, I am now going to pin some blame on citizens of the rich world, who must take responsibility for their own ignorance about trade policy and for its consequences.

In post-conflict situations we don?t just need ?Doctors Without Borders?, we need ?Bricklayers Without Borders?.

Most conduct is guided by norms rather than by laws. Norms are voluntary and are effective because they are enforced by peer pressure.

Poverty is not intrinsically a trap; otherwise we would all still be poor.

Te idea next surfaced in a process known as the African Peer Review Mechanism, whereby African countries volunteer for self-evaluation, modeled on the OECD. It is also useful within countries, as local governments can be compared against each other and ranked. Public agencies hate such rankings because they generate very effective pressure, both from the humiliation within a peer group and from the anger of users.

The critical changes in trade policy... are politically difficult not because they threaten interests (they don't) but because they do not fit into any of the current slogans and so don't make it onto the agenda.

A large improvement is not enough; it must be sustained. We decided to define ?sustained? as being at least five years. Had we chosen a very long period of sustained improvement, we would have excluded situations such as in Indonesia. The improvement in Indonesia began in 1967 and was broadly sustained until the collapse associated with the Asian financial crisis of 1998.

Astonishingly, he found that people with a sense of grievance were no more likely to take part in violent protest than those who were not aggrieved. So what characteristics did make people more likely to engage in political violence? Well, the three big ones were being young, being uneducated, and being without dependents. Try as one might, it is difficult to reconcile these characteristics of recruitment with an image of a vanguard of fighters for social justice.

Globalization arouses passions: it is considered either wonderful or terrible. I think the sad reality is that although globalization has powered the majority of developing countries toward prosperity, it is now making things harder for these latecomers.

In retrospect, it was perhaps a mistake for the international system to permit economically unviable areas to become independent countries. But the deed is done, and we have to live with the consequences. One of the consequences is the need for big aid as a means of raising domestic consumption in these desperately poor environments, even if the aid does not do much for growth. For these countries the psychology of aid needs to recognize that it is not there as a temporary stimulus to development, it is there to bring some minimal decency to standards of living. Probably the key role for development aid ? as opposed to direct support for consumption ? in the landlocked countries is to improve their transport links to the coasts.

Norway, about the richest country in the world, parks some of its oil revenue in a ?future-generations fund.

Pressure works, but it needs to be organized. This is the domain of the NGOs and the rock stars.

Technical assistance during the first four years of an incipient reform, and especially during the first two years, has a big favorable effect on the chances that the momentum of the reforms will be maintained.

The development lobbies themselves, notably the big Western NGO charities, often just don?t understand trade. It is complicated and doesn?t appeal to their publics, so they take the populist line. Even former U.S. president Bill Clinton, that great communicator, said that the hardest idea he ever had to get across to the American electorate was the notion of comparative advantage ? that every country can produce something that can be exported to mutual advantage.

A post-conflict charter should include guidance on behavior by donors and the international security regime. Donors should be committed for the decade, not just the first couple of high-glamour years. International security forces should likewise be committed for the long haul. In return, post-conflict governments should reduce their own military spending ? as we have seen, it is dysfunctional. They should have a transparent budgetary process, so that public power does not translate into private profit. They should include opposition groups in power, for example through decentralization. And they should sort out conflicting and confused property claims quickly.

Before globalization gave huge opportunities to China and India, they were poorer than many of the countries that have been caught in the traps.

High military spending by the government may inadvertently signal to the rebel forces that the government is indeed going to renege on any deal and rule by repression.

In the developing world, excluding Africa, only 1 percent of the population lives in countries that are both landlocked and resource-scarce. Another way of saying this is that other than in Africa, areas that are far from the coast and don?t have resources simply don?t become countries. Pretty sensible, that: such areas are so dependent upon what the neighboring areas do that it is better to be part of their polity rather than independent.

Not all developing countries are the same.

Probably parliaments should also set some ceilings on contributions, and require some transparency in party finances. This is not a very ambitious agenda, but it would at least get the issue of campaign finance started.

Technical assistance in a failing state prior to turnaround has little effect on the prospect of a turnaround occurring. The experts come and preach and people listen politely, but not much happens. This is bad news for the agencies that do this and little else, and it is also bad news for failing states.

The enthusiasm of the villains for the opportunities for corruption that trade restrictions constitute, and the consequent struggle of reformers to reduce barriers, is misread by NGOs such as Christian Aid. Seeing everything through the spectrum of rich countries oppressing poor countries, these agencies spend charitable donations opposing the reduction in African trade barriers. Lenin had a phrase for those in the West who supported him without understanding his true intent: ?useful idiots.? Today?s useful idiots campaign for trade barriers.

A recent study by the Center for Global Development, a Washington think tank, came up with an estimate of diminishing returns implying that when aid reaches about 16 percent of GDP it more or less ceases to be effective.

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Collier, fully Sir Paul Collier
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Professor of Economics and Public Policy at the Blavatnik School of Government, Director for the Centre for the Study of African Economies at the University of Oxford, Director of the Development Research Group of the World Bank