Monday, May 21, 2012

Top Economists Identify the Smartest Investments for Policy-makers and Philanthropists

The Copenhagen Consensus 2012 has arrived at a similar list prioritizing the address of
The press releases (.pdf) 
Copenhagen, Denmark (May 14, 2012) – A year-long project involving more than 65 researchers has culminated with a panel of economists including four Nobel laureates identifying the smartest ways to allocate money to respond to ten of the world’s biggest challenges.
The Copenhagen Consensus 2012 Expert Panel finds that fighting malnourishment should be the top priority for policy-makers and philanthropists.
Nobel laureate economist Vernon Smith said: “One of the most compelling investments is to get nutrients to the world’s undernourished. The benefits from doing so – in terms of increased health, schooling, and productivity – are tremendous.”
Judith Curry's Climate Etc. blog has an entry dealing with the results, and in the attached comments there is an interesting exchange between the Copenhagen Consensus Center's Richard Tol, and prolific commenter Peter Lang (Mr. Lang has a number of articles posted on Barry Brook's Brave New Climate Blog).  Mr. Tol does explain why GHG emissions was not on the list.  I share Peter Lang's interpretation of a tax (or increased costs from feed-in tariff, or renewable energy quotas) as spending.  I empathize with Mr. Tol's position on the carbon tax - yet the "good" payback is still worse if that revenue is then spent poorly.

Of course spending is not driven by how much good will be done - but by how much profit can be made.   This hypothetical Copenhagen Consensus process primarily exposes the hypocritical processes where "good" is only a marketing tool.

The Copenhagen Consensus project has been driven by Bjorn Lomborg.  Lomborg delivered a TED talk in 2005 which gives the broad idea of the project:

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