Felix Salmon: Jeffrey Sachs is an 'arrogant economist'

American economist Jeffrey Sachs. Photo by: Joe Athialy / CC BY-NC

Jeffrey Sachs may have several people backing him in his quest for the World Bank presidency, but that list does not include Felix Salmon, Reuters’ finance blogger.

Salmon bashed Sachs and his ”job application,” which was published at the Washington Post last week. He said Sachs “shouldn’t get the job,” describing the director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University as an ”arrogant economist who nearly always thinks he’s the smartest guy in the room.”

The finance blogger said even if the next World Bank president will inevitably be an American, the agency can still “do better than Sachs.” Salmon said the job is a “diplomatic” position, which does not fit Sachs. He said Sachs’ personality is less likely to get him “very far” when trying to persuade, say, the Nigerian president to revolutionize his domestic policy.

Salmon said Sachs’ world view is that development is easy, especially if there is enough money to spend on reducing poverty around the world. But he said when someone comes in with that kind of attitude to the World Bank, the results can be “wasteful at best” and “downright counterproductive at worst.”

“I’m not, in general, a fan of politicians. But in this case, we’d be better off with a smart politician in charge of the Bank — someone able to build consensus and approach tough problems with modesty,” Salmon said.

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About the author

  • Jenny Lei Ravelo

    Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex Senior Reporter based in Manila. She covers global health, with a particular focus on the World Health Organization, and other development and humanitarian aid trends in Asia Pacific. Prior to Devex, she wrote for ABS-CBN, one of the largest broadcasting networks in the Philippines, and was a copy editor for various international scientific journals. She received her journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas.