Foreign aid grudge matches

Pablo at PSD points to an William Easterly vs Jeff Sachs debate on foreign aid in the LA Times, while Jim at Our Word is Our Weapon notes that Easterly and Steve Radelet are still trading comments at Cato Unbound. Pablo bills the former as a Columbia vs NYU scuffle, and I’d like to note that the latter is an in-house match between Center for Global Development fellows.

Despite a number of folks billing these debates as showdowns, I see a consensus emerging:

Easterly: “The two key elements necessary to make aid work, and the absence of which has been fatal to aid’s effectiveness in the past, are FEEDBACK and ACCOUNTABILITY.”
Sachs: “The standards for successful aid are clear. They should be targeted, specific, measurable, accountable and scalable.”
Radelet: “We need clear, measurable goals, and aid programs should be constantly assessed against those goals by independent monitors.”

Apparently it’s difficult to get economists to agree about what “accountability” means in practice.