Tuesday, September 13, 2005


I doubt I get to post anything until this evening, if then. Had a morning-long seminar to deliver today and teaching this afternoon followed by a church council meeting. Meanwhile, the best post I've seen today -- without as much time to look as normal -- is Tyler Cowen on Jeff Sachs' volte face on governance and development. See also this review of the new World Bank publication "Doing Business." Its last two paragraphs:

In 90 per cent of the countries surveyed, firms ranked tax administration among the top five obstacles to doing business and in some, dealing with the bureaucracy was considered a bigger problem than the actual rates, not least because the more complex the system, the more likely it is that �informal payments� will be needed to smooth the path. Ask any Italian businessman.

As a rule of thumb, the heavier the regulatory burden, the larger the black [underground] economy and the bleaker are poor people�s chances of escaping poverty. The theme of this report is streamline, simplify. It is by no means addressed only to the Wretched of the Earth. To learn that of the 30 least business-friendly countries in the world, 23 are in Sub-Saharan Africa is no surprise. But did you know that Germany ranks below Lithuania, France below Fiji, and Italy below Bangladesh? Or that in Europe, only Denmark and Britain, in that order, make it into the top ten?

I wonder where New Orleans would have ranked?