One small positive side-effect of the current crisis is more public recognition of economists' research. The media frequently gets wrong who are the best economists to quote on any given issue (no names please), but sometimes they get it right. So I want to add my own wee bit to Greg Mankiw's much more high-powered blog-push to recognize Alberto Alesina. Greg cites a new Business Week article on Alesina's research on fiscal stimulus vs. budget cuts. The Business Week headline was "Alesina Who?" which definitely confirms the theory about the media being clueless on economists.
Of more direct interest to readers of this blog is Alesina's work on political economy and foreign aid (Alesina played a huge role in founding the modern field of political economy). On aid, see in particular his articles on whether corrupt countries receive less foreign aid, and who gives aid to whom and why. If you are still not satisfied, check out his web site at the Harvard Economics Department. (Full disclosure: I have known Alberto for many years, have learned a lot from him, and co-authored several papers with him.)