Just announced:

The Association of Private Enterprise Education (APEE) is proud to announce that the Adam Smith Award winner for 2013 will be William Easterly of New York University. APEE describes the award as follows:

“The Adam Smith Award is .. is given to recognize an individual who has made a sustained and lasting contribution to the perpetuation of the ideals of a free market economy as first laid out in Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations. The recipient of this award must be an individual who has acquired an international reputation as an eloquent scholar and advocate of free enterprise and the system of entrepreneurship which underlies it…”

Previous award winners include Nobel Prize winners James Buchanan, Vernon Smith, Douglass North, and Elinor Ostrom, and other leading economic thinkers such as Armen Alchian, Robert Barro, Harold Demsetz, Allan Meltzer, and Gordon Tullock…

Easterly’s work is not just a critique of efforts at development planning due to perverse incentives, bureaucratic bottlenecks, and errors in economic calculation, but also contains a deep understanding of the role of the entrepreneurial market process in lifting individuals out of poverty and producing a social order of freedom, dignity, peace, and prosperity. Economic development follows from a society of free and responsible individuals; who participate in a market economy based on profit and loss; who participate in a political regime governed by principle, not privilege; and live in a society that exhibits neither discrimination nor dominion…

Easterly will be honored on Sunday, April 14th, 2013 at the opening banquet of the annual meetings of APEE. This years conference will be held at the Sheraton-Maui. Here is the call for papers, please consider submitting a paper and/or a panel for the meetings.

by Zhenbo Hou

The biggest anxiety that some people have about China’s rise is whether a rapidly-growing authoritarian capitalist economy, ranked 2nd largest in the world, will be able and willing to adapt to the unique global responsibilities and pressures that arise from being number one. For a development establishment most familiar and comfortable with liberal democracy, it is an article of faith that, in order for China to truly lead the world, they must eventually become “like us.”

What people in the “West” must realize and eventually accept is that China’s contribution to the 21st century is not only about lifting 300 million people out of poverty, but also about enriching the debate about how development happens. From the orthodox perspective, several seemingly contradictory phenomena have taken place in China over the last thirty years: A property boom occurred, although the right to personal property was not guaranteed until a constitutional amendment in 2004; the state has maintained a level of control over the banking system and capital markets that was regarded outside the country as hopelessly “inefficient;” finally, and most notably, the party has remained in power – managing a country of 1.3 billion people.

For Western tastes, China’s political reforms might seem too gradual and marginal in nature. However, for any Chinese citizen who lived through the dark years of the Cultural Revolution, when hard-line ideological policing dominated daily life, the shift has been drastic, and the freedoms that most people enjoy in China today are worthy of being cherished. Society is now relatively disease and hunger-free; cars and home ownerships has become a strain on the nation’s ability to supply, rather than a rare luxury; travel and study abroad are commonplace for those with the means. In last week’s Worldwide Developers’ Conference (WWDC) in San Francisco, Apple revealed that they have started to develop more “China friendly” apps on its newest Macbook Pro, in order to cater to their largest market. Surely such evidence doesn’t support the notion that China is headed for a Soviet-style collapse.

All this being said, China has no room for complacency about its next phase of reforms. As Chinese people become more aware of the issues that are happening around them, they will want to make their voices heard, and want their opinions to matter. It is estimated there are 500-600 million netizens in China, with 300 million of them posting onto Weibo (China’s Twitter) on a daily basis. The government has responded gradually but surely: the peaceful resolve of the Wukan incident signaled support for village –level elections in China and the release of public expenditure record by central government ministries will attract more public scrutiny. Whether these measures will be enough remains to be seen, but they reflect the cautious approach to politics epitomized by Zhou Enlai, Chinese Premier under Mao, whom when asked about the significance of the French Revolution of 1789 by President Richard Nixon, responded, “It is too early to tell.”

Zhenbo Hou is a fellow of Overseas Development Institute (ODI) in Westminster, London. He is currently working as an economist in the Millennium Development Goals Unit of the Nigerian Presidency in Abuja. A Chinese national, Zhenbo is a graduate of Warwick University and the London School of Economics.

Why Bill Easterly believes that all candidates for World Bank President should be given more time to engage in a public debate:

A public forum allows many different minority viewpoints to be heard. Indeed, the backlash against Kim has generated its own backlash. The point of a forum is not to privilege Kim’s critics but to let both sides speak. Debates between opposite viewpoints are crucial to any democratic process, preventing “groupthink”; even when the dissidents are wrong, they force those with the right view to make their case. The CGD/Washington Post forum was transparent (the sessions with Okonjo-Iweala and Ocampo were both live-streamed and posted afterwards on the internet). Kim’s discussions with global leaders were not transparent.

Imagine a nominee with controversial environmental views or credentials were in the frame to lead America’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). It’s unlikely the administration would say the nominee was so busy meeting members of Congress behind closed doors that he or she had no time to consult with environmentalists.

Read the entire piece, published this afternoon, in The Guardian.

By Gregg Gonsalves

Lant Pritchett—a Professor of the Practice of International Development at the Harvard Kennedy School—has been leading a campaign against the election of Jim Kim to the World Bank presidency.   While he isn’t the only critic of Dr. Kim’s nomination, he is among the most vocal, prominent and well known.   Though his views are his own, many of them have been amplified and echoed by other leading development economists like William Easterly at New York University and several people associated with the Center for Global Development in Washington, DC.

Over the past few weeks, Pritchett has questioned Kim’s qualifications, saying a lack of training in economics and experience in world finance should disqualify him from consideration for the post. He has further suggested that the nomination is about the arrogance of American power and hegemony over the institution and that he should step aside for a merit-based election in which the Nigerian candidate for the post, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, a World Bank, Harvard and MIT alum and finance minister of Nigeria would sweep to victory. Read More →