Foreign Policy Global Thinker: Daron Acemoglu
Daron Acemoglu of MIT is #88 on Foreign Policy‘s list of the 100 Top Global Thinkers of 2010. Acemoglu tells Chrystia that his big ideas involve “the relationship between democracy and development” and “the historical roots of economic success and political success, and unfortunately also economic failure and political failure, across nations.” Professor Acemoglu explains why he disagrees with modernization theory, which states that nations tend to democratize as they get richer. He also disagrees with the thesis of fellow FP Global Thinker Raghuram Rajan that income inequality was a root cause of the most recent financial crisis. Acemoglu also discusses the prospects for democratization in China, and Russia’s project to replicate Silicon Valley outside Moscow. His next big idea, he hinted, is exploring the relationship between individualism and society.
Here’s Foreign Policy‘s take on what makes him a top global thinker:
Some Nobel Prize selections are a genuine surprise. The same won’t be true if Daron Acemoglu, already at age 43 one of the world’s 20 most cited economists, eventually takes the award. Born in Turkey and educated at the London School of Economics, Acemoglu quickly made a name for himself with papers and monographs that examined how economic incentives align with political life. His specialty is the analysis of the political conditions under which markets thrive — namely, democracy. It’s a theme Acemoglu has explored in a steady stream of academic papers, textbooks, and op-eds — work that so impressed his peers that he won the John Bates Clark medal in 2005, given annually to an outstanding economist under age 40. Acemoglu’s next book, co-authored with Harvard University’s James Robinson, Why Do Nations Fail?, argues that a real “freedom agenda” will start with democratic rules rather than free markets. “You would not need armies to implement such a scheme,” Acemoglu said, “just a functioning bureaucracy.”
Head on over to Foreign Policy to find out what’s on Acemoglu’s reading list and what he considers are the best and worst ideas of 2010.
Posted by Peter Rudegeair.