Brad Setser

Follow the Money

Cross border flows, with a bit of macroeconomics

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Earthquake Aid to Pakistan

by Brad Setser
October 26, 2005

Seems missing, at least by recent standards.   Both private giving and government help from the US and Europe seem far smaller than the outpouring of generosity that followed the tsunami – look at the chart on p. A 17 of the Wall Street Journal, or this Reuters article.   That seems like a mistake to me, or at least an opportunity missed.

Obviously, the US is struggling with the consequences of a warmer Gulf of Mexico and the shift in the US population toward hurricane zones.   I am still waiting for a fully developed federal "plan" for rebuilding, and I am sure New Orleans is too.   Financing reconstruction with a diminished tax base ain't gonna be easy.

But donor and disaster fatigue are not a great excuse; Pakistan is not exactly a strategically insignificant country in the war v. terrorism.  The Wall Street Journal:

"A thinly stretched international aid machine is sputtering in a politically volatile region.  The aid crunch is unfolding in an area populated with Muslim militants who once received tacit support from the Pakistani government  …. Some analysts say a humanitarian crisis could further inflame sentiment against Western countries that are viewed as coming up short on compassion and cash."

I second Suzanne Nossel.


  • Posted by Diego

    Yes, so what about a more important role for the private sector – they have proven effective in both SEAsia and New Orleans. See this post over at the World Bank Blog:

    Many have suggested that the outpouring of support during the Tsnumi was also linked to the holiday season. More people were at home eating large holiday meals or on vacation with the families (the southern hemisphere was in the middle of their summer vacations) – and in a more “holiday” spirit.

    Finally, it is sad to say, but the fact that it was a Tsunami and not “another” earthquake seized the media attention and curiosity of people. The homevideo images of tourists were far more influencing than the aerial shots we are getting from Pakistan.

    But of course you are right, I am shocked that a country of such geopolitical significance has not received more attention.

    PS: It was also apparently “Blog Quake Day” today as well. (See the above post)

  • Posted by bsetser

    Blog quake day — guess I should be more plugged into the blogosphere of the subcontinent … I was responding more to the news flow

  • Posted by Anonymous

    Brad, please feel free to step in and make a donation to the cause. Please rest assured that the rest of us are comfortable with your generosity. Again I encourage you and Suzanne to donate all you wish. Finally, your sermons are not as good as your economics (even when you call upon Suzanne).

  • Posted by bsetser

    I did not know this was a sermon; only highlighting what does to me seem like a real missed opportunity. You can add Anne-Marie Slaughter to the Nossel/ Setser list.

    Do you have a specific argument against a bigger effort? Look at the WSJ article i linked too — it was rather surprising to me.