Leading development economists Jeff Sachs and Bill Easterly came together today to condemn the ongoing attempt by peace brokers to resolve the pair’s differences in the interests of the broader development project. The two men appeared together in a surprise press conference in Geneva.

Both men traveled to Switzerland to protest the attempts at a preliminary deal struck there by independent mediators, claiming the symbolic first step toward peace would prove devastating for book sales on both sides.

The historic agreement would have seen Easterly curb his repeated pokes at Sachs about the Millennium Villages Projects, in exchange for Sachs being more relaxed about criticisms on Twitter. It would have been in place for six months while a long-term deal – aimed at definitively preventing any future outbreak of hostilities – was worked out.

“We are putting aside our differences to draw the world’s attention to this historic mistake,” Easterly told reporters as Sachs stood by his side. “We believe that our ongoing tirade has only been beneficial for the poor and vulnerable of the world. Yet these negotiators are deliberately screwing things up for them by suggesting development can be achieved in more productive and cooperative ways.”

“Development professionals are trying to move beyond the bile and animosity, and trying to be constructive and collegiate about how to improve peoples lives. This is not the sector Bill and I are used to,” added Sachs.

Echoing his New York-based counterpart, Sachs told reporters that any reduction in their hostility was not in the sector’s best interests.

The unexpected appearance demonstrated their mutual hardline stances about keeping their differences firmly in the present.

“This deal is going to hurt our chances of reaching the New York Times bestseller lists with our next books, and you can quote me on that”, Easterly declared. “Both Jeff and I understand that a vital way to drive interest in our work is to aggressively play off against each other.”

Added Sachs, “We have both worked too hard on this dysfunctional relationship, for too long, only for it to be stopped by a bunch of suits in Geneva.”

“We call on development sector to reject this deal immediately, and to stop trying resolve our differences. The next thing you know, we might see people in the sector genuinely respecting alternative points of view, and then where would we be?”

After the press conference, Easterly and Sachs shook hands before going their separate ways.

Join the conversation! 1 Comment

  1. If this is for real it would suggest a lot of development people are pacifists but not the big guys. Can you imagine the folks who made up this deal in a room trying to negotiate spend on a project with some tough locals. Cave in after five minutes and I don’t mean the locals. Then trying to sell the cave in to the donors as a triumph of taking advice from the locals whilst all along it was that they didn’t have the stomach for a fight. And everyone lived happily ever after until the donor started saying the money was for this not for what you agreed. Then they tried some more mediation along the lines of it is all for the best and doing good anyway.


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About Ben Ramalingam

I am a researcher and writer specialising on international development and humanitarian issues. I am currently working on a number of consulting and advisory assignments for international agencies. I am also writing a book on complexity sciences and international aid which will be published by Oxford University Press. I hold Senior Research Associate and Visiting Fellow positions at the Institute of Development Studies, the Overseas Development Institute, and the London School of Economics.