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Book Review of Robert Klitgaard's Tropical Gangsters - Essay Example

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Robert Klitgaard's Tropical Gangsters: One Man's Experience with Development and Decadence in Deepest Africa tells the story concerning a poor country which is trying to reform its economy, in the background of modern tendency to move toward the free market across the world…
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Book Review of Robert Klitgaards Tropical Gangsters
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Download file to see previous pages The book tells the story of the author who, equipped with his surfboard and a $10-million-dollar loan from the World Bank, makes an attempt to rehabilitate the ruined economy of Equatorial Guinea, one of the most backward countries in the world. Robert Klitgaard, a Harvard-trained economist, in the story, deals with several important questions which are relevant to much of the world. "As in most other countries carrying out free market reforms, Equatorial Guinea's leaders have not always known quite how to make the new strategy work - or, in some cases, whether they should really try. This ignorance and reluctance, though extreme, are in many ways prototypical, and they raise general questions. How does one go about assessing an economy's strengths and weaknesses How does one go about developing the institutions needed to make free markets work And how can one help recalcitrant, inefficient, sometimes corrupt government move forward" (Klitgaard, ix-x) Apart from these essential questions, the author also deals with the important role of international aid which further gives rise to new questions. Thus, the author investigates the creative possibilities and inherent limitations of outside assistance, the tensions between aid and dependency, between benevolence and autonomy, and the possible ways of action in this context. In the context of economic and political changes taking place in Africa, Robert Klitgaard is engaged in a fascinating and compelling account of his two-and-a-half-year adventure in Equatorial Guinea and it provides an insightful explanation of why foreign aid often fails to achieve its goals.
In the book Tropical Gangsters: One Man's Experience with Development and Decadence in Deepest Africa, Klitgaard, who is the former head of a multi-million dollar economic development program in the Equatorial Guinea, convincingly gives an account of his struggles against government corruption, capitalist adventures, and bankrupt economic theories. The narrator was sent as an economist-consultant to Equatorial Guinea, a small West African nation which is one of the poorest countries of the world, by the World Bank in 1985. Klitgaard has been highly effective in blending his personal reminiscence and economic analysis in his engaging memoir of his two-and-a-half-year struggle to rehabilitate the local economy. In the background of the modern tendency to move toward the free market across the world, the author suggests how the countries of Africa welcomed free market for economic development. "Africa has been the vanguard of a worldwide movement away from state-controlled economies and toward the free market. For years the prevailing wisdom concerning economic development advocated an interventionist state. Government should be the mobilizers and managers of resources. In contrast, the new movement says that the private sector is the key to economic growth, and downplays the state's role as mobilizer and manager." (Klitgaard, 7) Thus, the author deals with the various aspects of the backward economies of the African countries and he makes exceptional note of lethargy, corruption, and adventurism as the basic issues affecting the progress of these economies.
In his analyses of the economic problems facing Equatorial Guinea, Klitgaard focuses on cogent and convincing issues such imports outstripping exports, lack ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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