Michael Busch: Why Nations Fail: The Sachs Attack
Huffington Post - over 4 years
This fall, I assigned Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson's Why Nations Fail as part of my international political economy course, and so I've been reading this massive study in preparation for our upcoming seminars on it. I was tickled, then, to notice Jeff Sachs' review of the book in the last issue of Foreign Affairs (Sept/Oct), which gave over generous real estate in its pages for the good doctor's critique. It's scathing stuff. Though it takes him roughly 4,000 words, Sachs' argument about the book boils down to a basic claim -- Why Nations Fail is simple, misleading, and frequently wrong.
While the narrative spun throughout the book "sounds good" and will soothe the minds of Western liberals, Sachs contends, it falls victim to a laundry list of "conceptual shortcomings," conflations, and misinterpretations. "The overarching effect of these analytic shortcomings," writes Sachs, "is that when Acemoglu and Robinson purport to explain why nations fail to grow, they act l
Huffington Post article