BY WILLIAM A. DOUGLAS, IDEV POET LAUREATE EMERITUS

The development process has multiple factors – 
It’s a drama with roles for numerous actors.
Economics is only one part of the game;
Politics too can be partly to blame,
When a country just stagnates and development slows,
And social divisions can also deal blows!
The environment, too, can not be ignored – 
As the rich nations grew, earth’s temperature soared!

Without institutions the market can’t function.
And, exports may drop at that critical junction
That economists call the “mid-income trap”:
Between low-wage and high-tech, they’re caught in a trap!
And policies also must be gotten “right” -
Both slumps and inflation, the central banks fight.   

From Rodrik at Harvard, to Levy at SAIS,
Some experts hope that it could suffice
To identify “crucial constraints” at each moment,
And mitigate those, so that growth we can foment.
Others contend that a full-court press
Is needed to deal with the whole complex mess. 

Acemoglu and Robinson write that they feel
That rotten governance is the Achilles heel.
Against corruption and clientelism the two of them rail –
That’s the reason, they say, as to Why Nations Fail. 

Those two gloomy guys may be on the right track – 
“Extractive” kleptocracies hold nations back
As in Central Asia’s various “stans”,
Where wealth all ends up in the ruling group’s hands,
And in many poor countries where bureaucrats feel
That a government job is a license to steal. 

But – massive corruption’s not an absolute barrier –
Some countries grew fast while their thieves all grew merrier.
To line their deep pockets, China’s “princelings” weren’t loathe,
Yet the country attained high annual growth!
As did Korea during its earlier take-off 
While corrupt officials a portion did rake off;
And India’s growth (for a while) came to life,
Though the people complain that corruption was rife. 

With so many factors, one’s often confused;
One doubts that regressions can really be used 
To tell which factors actually dominate,
So that we’d know which key ones to nominate. 
Today, what criteria can the experts now find
To show where priorities should be assigned?
The effort to find them usually ends
With the conclusion: “It all just depends….”  

 

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