Management in Private Sector, Public Sector, and Academe

Paul Wolfowitz, new World Bank President, remembering a joke told by his former boss, George Shultz:

“I remember George Shultz,” whom he once worked for, “was once asked how he would compare management in the private sector, public sector, and academics,” Mr. Wolfowitz says. “In the private sector you better be careful what you ask for because people are going to go out and do it. . . . The government, you don’t have to worry about that. You tell people (to) do something and you check back two months later and nothing’s happened. But in the academic world, you tell people to do something and they look at you strangely and they say, ‘Who the heck do you think you are giving us orders?'” (p. A10; “to” added; “. . . ” in original)

PAUL A. GIGOT. “Dr. Wolfowitz, I Presume.” Wall Street Journal (September 24, 2005): A10.

World Bank’s Favorite New Book

Speaking of Paul Wolfowitz, the new World Bank President:

His favorite new source book is the World Bank’s “Doing Business” report, an annual guide to the obstacles that countries impose on their own entrepreneurs. The 2006 version is just out, and for the first time Mr. Wolfowitz had it rank countries, from 1 to 155, on the “ease of doing business.” New Zealand ranked first, and the U.S. third (after Singapore), but African nations held down 25 of the last 30 places.
Take Burkina Faso, a landlocked West African country that came in at . . . 154. “If you were in a food supply business,” Mr. Wolfowitz says, “registering a business would require minimum capital equal to nearly five times annual income. Fees alone cost 1½ times income per capita . . . to register your land, you have to pay fees, 16% of the value of the land. So the result is in a country of 12 million people, only 50,000 are in the formal” economy.
So why is he optimistic? Burkina has grown for the last decade, he says, and the country has political cohesion. “I had a great meeting with the president of Burkina” on a recent trip, and “I shouldn’t say this, but I want to find a way to communicate these results to him and say, do something about it, your country will grow even more.”

PAUL A. GIGOT. “Dr. Wolfowitz, I Presume.” Wall Street Journal (September 24, 2005): A10.
The “Doing Business” report is in its second or third annual version, and is described enthusiastically in Thomas Friedman’s new book The World is Flat. John Devereux suggested to me that one interpretation of the criteria used for the ranking, is that they are a step in the direction of measuring openness to creative destruction.

“Treat Me with Benign Neglect.”

Source: Screen capture from CNN “Refusing to Leave” report by Dan Simon on the morning of 9-9-05.

“This is America. Has your neighborhood ever been invaded by state troopers from another state?” “I will leave when I am dead.” Ashton O’Dwyer can’t understand why he is being forced to leave his dry, intact home in New Orleans. He asks the city: “Treat me with benign neglect.” The 9-9-05 report was followed up by Drew Griffin on 9-10-05 with the “Staying Put” report that presented businesses, and Afro-Americans, expressing sentiments similar to O’Dwyer’s.
Dr. Michael Baden on the “On the Record” Fox News show, hosted by Greta Van Susteren at about 9:47 PM central time on 9-9-05, stated that there was little danger from the “toxic” water unless people drink it. (Toxic water is the main reason given for the current, post-hurricane, forced evacuations.) Baden claims if the city wants to help people, they would be much more effective if they sprayed the water against mosquitoes.
(Dr. Michael Baden is the Chief Forensic Pathologist of the New York State Police, and was formerly the Chief Medical Examiner of New York City.)

Watch the CNN report: “Refusing to Leave“:

Watch the CNN report: “Staying Put“:

For more on O’Dwyer, see also:
CHRISTOPHER COOPER. “Old-Line Families Escape Worst of Flood and Plot the Future.” THE WALL STREET JOURNAL (September 8, 2005): A1.

Higher Return to R&D in U.S than in Japan and Europe

 

The following may be further support for Martin Neil Baily’s claim that the U.S. is more productive than Europe and Japan because the U.S. is more open to creative destruction.

 

<615> . . ., most reserachers conclude that the rates of return to R&D are comparable magnitudes in different countries. This is confirmed by our <616> meta-analysis. However, the elasticities are significantly lower in Europe and Japan, as compared with the USA. (pp. 615-616)

 

Source:  Wieser, Robert. "Research and Development Productivity and Spillovers: Empirical Evidence at the Firm Level." Journal of Economic Surveys 19, no. 4 (2005): 587-621.

Also see: Baily, Martin Neil. "Macroeconomic Implications of the New Economy." Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of the Kansas City (2001): 201-268. (Especially see graph on p. 220) Martin Feldstein’s Jackson Hole presentation, was also supportive of the Baily claim.

 

Flexibility of Labor Laws: American Asset

<284> As Harvard University economist Robert Lawrence notes, the greatest single asset <285> that the American economy has always had is the flexibility and mobility of its labor force and labor laws. That asset will become even more of an advantage in the flat world, as job creation and destruction both get speeded up. (pp. 284-285)

Friedman, Thomas L. The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2005.

Taiwan: “Barren Rock in a Typhoon-Laden Sea”

(p. 262) The ideal country in a flat world is the one with no natural resources, because countries with no natural resources tend to dig deep inside themselves. They try to tap the energy, entrepreneurship, creativity, and intelligence of their own people–men and women–rather than drill (p. 263) an oil well. Taiwan is a barren rock in a typhoon-laden sea, with virtually no natural resources–nothing but the energy, ambition, and talent of its own people–and today it has the third-largest financial reserves in the world.

Source:
Friedman, Thomas L. The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2005.
(Note: italics in original.)