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Can Public-Funded Entrepreneurship Work? A Q&A With the Author of Boulevard of Broken Dreams

In recent months, the U.S. government has taken on a challenging and controversial new role: private sector investor. This development has raised a host of questions about the government’s role in the economy and a new book by Josh Lerner, Boulevard of Broken Dreams: Why Public Efforts to Boost Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital Have Failed – and What to Do About It, is required reading for anyone hoping to understand the issues. Read More »



How Did Israel Become “Start-Up Nation”?

Since the onset of the current financial crisis, political and economic pundits have loudly proclaimed the end of American economic dominance. U.S. policymakers are struggling to revive the economy, establish new industrial competencies, and remain globally competitive. Meanwhile, in a small, young, constantly embattled country across the globe, old-fashioned entrepreneurialism is alive and well. Israel, just 60 years old and with a population of 7.1 million, has emerged as a model of entrepreneurialism that countries at all stages of development have tried to replicate. Read More »



African Entrepreneurs

The problems facing developing countries, in Africa and elsewhere, are overwhelming in their magnitude and complexity. From HIV/AIDS to widespread corruption and poverty, obstacles to economic development are occupying some of the world’s brightest minds. The three individuals profiled below are tackling Africa’s most trenchant problems in vastly different ways but with a common goal: to create a new development paradigm for the continent. Read More »



Random Lives in Northern Uganda

I went to northern Uganda to observe an economic experiment — a randomized program intervention focused on highly vulnerable women in the region. The program, Women’s Income Generating Support (WINGS), is being implemented by the Association of Volunteers in International Service (AVSI) and will provide the women with grants and business training.

“Less than an hour after we started, the randomization was complete and the immediate future of 1,800 women was determined.”

Due to resource constraints, the women will receive the intervention in two different phases, allowing a team of economists to evaluate the effectiveness of the program. Read More »



The Nanny Nation

Barry Ritholtz, in his new book Bailout Nation: How Greed and Easy Money Corrupted Wall Street and Shook the World Economy writes, “The iconic image is the American cowboy. You can picture him on a cattle drive, wearily watching over his herd. All he needed to get by were his wits, his horse — and his trusty Winchester.” Read More »



Will the "Green Revolution" Ever Hit Africa?

To most people in the developed world, agricultural science is a bit of an afterthought. We go to the grocery store and decide between small, vibrantly red cherry tomatoes and charmingly misshapen heirloom tomatoes. We buy big, juicy oranges and know that when we peel them the juice will run over our fingers and the sticky scent will linger. We can choose between 10 different kinds of apples, no matter the season. At no point during our shopping do most of us stop to think about the technology used to produce this bounty. … Read More »



Navigating the Natural Resource Curse

When oil was discovered in 2007 off the shores of small, sturdy Ghana, the country’s government officials called the discovery “perhaps the greatest managerial challenge” the country had faced since independence. John Kufuor, Ghana’s president at the time, warned that “instead of a being a blessing, oil sometimes proves the undoing of many … nations who come by this precious commodity.”

Ghana’s reaction no doubt surprised oil-starved observers in developed countries, but the Ghanaian officials were referring to the “resource curse” that has wreaked havoc in other resource-rich, developing countries. Natural-resource wealth not only increases civil violence but, in a bizarre development paradox, is linked to lower economic growth. Read More »



Is There a Market for “Conscious Capitalists”?

The iconic libertarian Milton Friedman once said “The great advances of civilization, whether in architecture or painting, in science or literature, in industry or agriculture, have never come from centralized government.” Michael Strong, founder of innovative charter schools, and John Mackey, C.E.O. of Whole Foods, agree with Friedman, and have their own libertarian vision. They […] Read More »