Healing the economy

08 December 2011

The US economy visited a “quack doctor,” was given a “wrong diagnosis” and has been “taking the wrong medicine for the last 30 years”, according to Professor Jeffrey Sachs during his presentation on “The price of civilization” on 7 December.

Blaming key decisions taken during the Thatcher/Reagan governments, Sachs believes that the results for the US were an entrenched political economy which is subject to insider trading and lobbying dominated by Wall Street, oil and coal, private health providers and the military. In effect the US has allowed these special interest groups to intervene directly in government. As a result global decision-making has been paralysed.

Describing President Obama as “a wonderful speech maker and a mediocre President”, Sachs questioned the flawed functioning of democracy in countries like the US where “we vote for candidates not policies.”

Sachs was speaking at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History to promote his new book, ‘The Price of Civilization: Reawakening American Virtue and Prosperity,’ at a lecture organised by the Programme for Technology and Management for Development, Oxford Martin School and Green Templeton College.

Following his presentation he was joined in a lively panel discussion by:

  • Professor Valpy FitzGerald, Department of International Development
  • Professor Ian Goldin, Oxford Martin School
  • Professor Peter Tufano, Said Business School
  • Professor Adrian Wood , Department of International Development
  • Professor Sir Adam Roberts, Centre for International Studies

Professor Jeffrey Sachs is the Director of the Earth Institute and Quetelet Professor of Sustainable Development and Professor of Health Policy and Management at Columbia University. He is also Special Advisor to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on the Millennium Development Goals, designed to reduce extreme poverty, disease, and hunger by the year 2015. He has twice been named among the 100 most influential leaders in the world by Time magazine, and is sought worldwide for his economic advice and his unique capacity and global experience in complex economic problem solving.

Watch the webcast of the presentation.

Read the blog from Jeff Sachs' presentation in Oxford in 2009: Repairing Economic Governance