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The Economist’s Tale by Peter Griffiths


 "compelling … revealing …committed …  Sparkling … he fights intrigue and physical danger to triumph in the end…. he brilliantly elucidates "
The Economist
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"It was absolutely unputdownable.   As thrilling as any thriller.   I couldn't stop;   I wanted to know what was going to happen;   whether or not he would manage to avert a famine.   I've never read an account of the life of a consultant which came anywhere near it, in the vividness of the observation or the pace of the action."  Clive Dewey. Leicester University

".  .  .  full of salacious detail, worldly weakness, cunning, duplicity, hypocrisy and immorality .  .   . All human weakness and corruption is here. Unlike Chaucer's tales, however, Peter Griffiths' story is true. This is the tale of just one battle between economists.

This is a delightful read, a real page turner as the pressure builds and an antidote to the popular belief that for a book on economics to be taken seriously it must be difficult. The book can be read on many levels: as a gripping narrative, as a parable for our times, as a fascinating insight into what a professional economist does when dispatched to a third world country, as a behind the scenes view of the interplay of politics, greed and the World Bank's obsession with one economic solution. It makes economics personal."
Sue Turner  in Teaching Business and Economics
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It's a fantastic read, and by reading it you will get two valuable pieces of information; you'll understand what economic consultants (those people whose jobs are advertised in the front bits of the Economist) actually do for a living, and you'll understand the exact why and wherefore of what it is that people are complaining about when they protest against the Bretton Woods institutions and the Washington Consensus. 

If you can understand a Grisham novel you can understand this. It’s pacey, it’s exciting and it all really happened.”
Daniel Davies

“Peter Griffiths tells a tale of policy advice given in a vacuum with no contextual knowledge of the circumstances that will govern its immediate outcome.  .  .  . Griffiths managed, at the cost of any further chance of employment in West Africa, to alert the government and subvert the Bank's intensions sufficiently to avert the worst of the potential disaster.” Richard Lipsey  Some Plusses and Minuses of Globalization.

The story itself is chilling and important, providing the reader with an understanding of how economic policy advice can go disastrously wrong if one doesn’t have a strong knowledge of local conditions. . . Like Klitgaard and Easterly, Griffiths is an insider, and he can therefore offer insights that others cannot. Brad Andrew Review of Political Economy

“Peter Griffiths has provided .  .  . an intriguing and insight­ful blend of fact and fiction. .  .  a compelling day-by-day set of diary entries .  .  . and it tells of people and policies (not the models, data, and equations suggested by the word ‘Economist’). This is a first-rate account. Its strength is that it translates often unreal world economics and abstraction into layman’s terms. The reader shouldn’t be put off by the title, The Economist’s Tale, for its contents are important and deal with concrete reality.” Barry Riddell.  Review of African Political Economy No. 103:205-208  

“Peter Griffiths has produced a veritable tour de force that exposes how the World Bank, committed to liberalizing agricultural markets in Sierra Leone, imposed a (secret) agreement which prevented the government from importing food and granting subsidies.  .  . The reader is offered useful insights into how economists work in the field when confronted with a lack of, anecdotal claims which need to be corroborated or rejected local institutional rivalries and the strongly expressed desires vis-a-vis the contents of the final consultancy report-of key stakeholders juxtaposed with anecdotes about life, politics and doing business in a developing economy.


It is a compelling read .  .  . readers will not be disappointed.”   Andy Thorpe  Journal of Contemporary European Studies

This book should be compulsory reading for anyone who teaches or who studies economics, business etc..., specifically for those who are interested in how markets actually function and the reasons why they quite frequently produce less than 'optimal' results.
Also should be read by everyone in the 'Aid' industry and by all who have n interest in Africa/he Third World.     Charles Bruggmann

 The Economist’s Tale – A Consultant encounters hunger and the World Bank

Peter Griffiths 

(Zed Books London)

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Peter Griffiths

0131 556 7292 0777 274 6759 e-mail 


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