Sunday, April 25, 2010

Tropical Gangsters.

I just finished the book "Tropical Gansters" [1] by Robert Klitgaard; an academic and a policy advisor to developing country governments on economic strategy and institutional reform. The book is about his 1986-1988 experiences in Equatorial Guinea when he was an economist/administrator of a (for the country's size) enormous economic rehabilitation project funded by the World Bank. He worked (or at least tried to work) with a team of ministers to design a structural adjustment program, reform sectoral strategies, and undertake rehabilitation projects (see his CV for more information).

What struck me most in this book is how next to (of course) economic issues, especially politics - the process by which groups of people make collective decisions - is important for economic development. Klitgaard candidly writes about the difficulties he faces while (trying to) work because of coups attempts, the replacement of ministers at the whim of the president, and the importance of traditional leaders - in the President's home town of Mongomo - for national politics. Interesting as this is exactly why after studying economics I am now at Columbia. All in all, nice book and an informative read.

[1] Robert Klitgaard. 1991. Tropical Gangsters. One Man's Experience With Development and Decadence in Deepest Africa. New York: Basic Books.

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