By Paul Collier
Economist Paul Collier, former director of research for the World Bank and now Director of the Center for the Study of African Economies at Oxford University, describes the conditions causing 50 developing states to fail—home to some one billion people—and what needs to be done to lift them out of this perpetual cycle of failure. In The Bottom Billion Collier starts with a not so surprising finding: "halve the starting income of the country and you double the risk of civil war". But he adds deep research on these fifty states unable to break out of extraordinary poverty and adds the factors of slow growth and dependence on primary commodities. Collier, like J. F. Rischard in his book High Noon: 20 Global Problems, 20 Years to Solve Them, points to solutions that go beyond single governments and single point approaches---these are challenges that go well past any single nation’s capacity to resolve them and require huge commitments from governments/militaries and public and private institutions. Collier examines aid policies in detail and begs to differ with Jeffrey Sachs, whose passion he applauds in his book The End of Poverty, by asserting that aid alone is not going to solve the problem, again asserting that a range of policies and instruments are necessary. In this worthy addition to the work of C. K. Prahalad (The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid), Collier calls for a whole of government approach supported by international groups such as the G-8 at both postconflict and “deep prevention” points, that includes preferential trade policies, laws against corruption, new international charters, and carefully calibrated military interventions. In Highlands sessions of the past five years we have featured the ideas of Ashraf Ghani, Clare Lockhart, Sultan Barakat, C.K. Prahalad, Chip Hauss, Eric Rasmussen, Amory Lovins and Dan Esty as we addressed transition from conflict to reconstruction. Collier adds significantly to this body of thinking. We should be listening.