Jeff Sachs: the Economy Doctor Makes Housecalls

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Yes, housecalls. Meaning that since our conversation with Jeff Sachs on Open Source in early June, he’s been logging real-world economic symptoms in China, Tajikistan, Israel, Abu Dhabi, Yemen, Libya, UK (for the G8 summit), Ghana, Nigeria, Mali, Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, Djibouti, Rwanda, Malawi, Indonesia and Cambodia.

We think of Jeff Sachs, here at Open Source, as “our Condi,” or “the Real Condi.” He is a macro-economist who keeps his human reflexes alive by, not least, taking his wife, a clinical M.D., and their three kids on the road with him.

Sachs is a principal economic adviser to Kofi Annan and the UN’s Millenium Development Goals. His much-discussed “End of Poverty” presented a schedule of technical and financial aid that could eliminate mass starvation and the plague of AIDS and malaria in twenty years, with a modest increase in the set-aside of our prosperity. Last June on Open Source, Sachs elaborated a development test in rural Western Kenya.

Tonight, we’ve agreed to start and bear down hard on China, so much in the news about Unocal, the yuan, Walmart and the dawning realization that in addition to manufacturing our “stuff” now the Chinese also sustain the interest rates that sustain our housing bubble and the rest of our fat and happy fantasy. Is this not the dangerous dance ahead for the foreseeable future: us and China–empires rising and fading, a thousand ways entwined?

According to Goldman Sachs, China’s GDP will exceed that of the United States in around 2041. The economist Angus Maddison puts the Oriental sorpasso as early as 2015. By 2050, the combined output of China and India may well exceed that of the entire G8.

Niall Ferguson, The Telegraph

As Jeff Sachs flies through Indonesia and Southeast Asia, East and West Africa, and then the Middle East, I wonder: where does he feel the reach of the new overseas Chinese–or the New China Overseas?

We won’t exhaust the China questions, but on the chance that we did, I would ask: so what else did you do on your summer vacation, Jeff?

Xiao Qiang

Xiao Qiangis the Director of The China Internet Project at the Graduate School of Journalism, University of California at Berkeley. Xiao Qiang is a theoretical physicist by training who became a full time human rights activist after the Tiananmen Massacre in 1989. Xiao was a recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship in 2001

From Chelsea’s pre-interview notes

• Is China a threat? That depends on how you define threat– a new configuration of power can play out but it means some serious and thoughtful negotiating

• The US is being very OLD SCHOOL as far as not trusting China—they have to understand that China is still insecure and paranoid.

• China is rising in every aspect, it is changing the international landscape and the US has to accept this. If the US doesn’t like the fact that China is a dynamic country then yes, maybe it is a threat but that is not a productive way of looking at China.

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