August 15, 2006

The through-the-eye-of-the-needle index

Sir, “It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God” (Matthew 19:24), and so, as you note on August 15, the Washington-based Center for Global Development should be commended for their through-the-eye-of-the-needle index that ranks 21 rich countries on how likely their policies are to promote development. That said, unfortunately this is yet another wishy-washy instrument in that it dilutes the useful though uncomfortable specificities into less tranparent and more debatable averages and you yourself end up with an “It is astonishing that we still know so little about what sort of aid works.”

If you have a thousand movies to see but only time for ten you sure appreciate a list of which could be, even speculatively considered, the 20 best and the 20 worst so as to have an inkling of which to see and which to avoid. Well, in terms of the World Bank and other developing agencies, there is nothing that even closely resembles a best and worst program and loan list and so therefore they have little choice, as you also say, than that of embracing the latest fashions, and on which FT will also duly report. Sir, speaking in the name of all the poor in need of developing policies that really works, please help to ask for a best and worst list and then let us get some real debate.