Jeffrey Sachs

American economist
(Redirected from Jeffrey D. Sachs)

Jeffrey David Sachs (born November 5, 1954) is an American economist, academic, public policy analyst and former director of The Earth Institute at Columbia University, where he holds the title of University Professor. He is known as one of the world's leading experts on sustainable development, economic development, and the fight against poverty.

These riches should be directed first and foremost to end the millions of needless deaths caused by extreme poverty, and to educate the hundreds of millions of children who lack schooling.
We are in the process of utterly wrecking the planet by burning fossil fuels and thereby raising Earth’s temperature... the Green New Deal... endorses the science... It’s a massive transplant operation requiring the greatest skills of our top engineers and power-grid operators.... As with every great engineering challenge our nation has faced — the Erie Canal, the 20th-century power grid, the Interstate Highway System, the civil aviation system and the moonshot — we need bold timelines, clear milestones, breakthrough engineering and public-sector leadership.




  • Deep down, if we really accept that their lives - African lives - are equal to ours, we would all be doing more to put the fire out. Its an uncomfortable truth.


  • Von Hayek was wrong. In strong and vibrant democracies, a generous social-welfare state is not a road to serfdom but rather to fairness, economic equality and international competitiveness.
    • Welfare States, Beyond Ideology, Scientific American 295, 42 (2006)


  • The banks have said, leave us deregulated, we know how to run things, don't put government in to meddle. Then with that freedom of maneuver they took huge gambles, and even made illegal actions, and then broke the world system. As soon as that happened then they rushed out to say 'bail us out, bail us out, if you don't bail us out, we're too big to fail, you have to save us'. As soon as that happened, they said 'oh, don't regulate us, we know what to do'.
    And... the public is standing there, amazed, because we just bailed you out how can you be paying yourself billions of dollars of bonuses again? And the bankers say, 'well we deserve it, what's your problem'? And the problem that the Occupy Wall Street and other protesters have is: you don't deserve it, you nearly broke the system, you gamed the economy, you're paying mega fines, yet you're still in the White House you're going to the state dinners, you're paying yourself huge bonuses, what kind of system is this?
  • When I talk about this in the United States, I'm often attacked, 'oh, you don't believe in the free market economy', I say, how much free market can there be? You say deregulate, the moment the banks get in trouble, you say bail them out, the moment you bail them out, you say go back to deregulation. That's not a free market, that's a game, and we have to get out of the game. We have to get back to grown-up behaviour.
    ... There is a lot of greed and there's very little accountability... One wonders in the United States sometime whether the government is regulating the banks, or are the banks determining government policy?... Why have the politicians protected them all along? You know why? Very simple. They pay for the politicians.
  • Though the United States is one of the world’s richest economies by per capita income, it ranks only around seventeenth in reported life satisfaction. It is superseded not only by the likely candidates of Finland, Norway, and Sweden, which all rank above the United States but also by less likely candidates such as Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic. Indeed, one might surmise that it is health and longevity rather than income that give the biggest boost to reported life satisfaction. Since good health and longevity can be achieved at per capita income levels well below those of the United States, so too can life satisfaction. One marketing expert put it this way, with only slight exaggeration: Basic Survival goods are cheap, whereas narcissistic self-stimulation and social-display products are expensive. Living doesn’t cost much, but showing off does.
  • America is losing its democracy as our politicians trade their votes for campaign contributions from the corporate lobbies. We have a corporatocracy rather than a democracy... The Wall Street Journal... is the leading print mouthpiece for the corporatocracy... America’s corporatocracy is governed by vested interests rather than moral or economic principles.... Americans today by large majorities support public education, Medicare, Social Security, help for the indigent, stronger regulation of the banks, and higher taxation of the rich. The problem is... with the failure of our government to translate American values into American policies.


  • We need... a much more competent and honest government. Economic reform and political reform must go hand in hand. Without the one there cannot be the other.
    • The Price Of Civilization: Reawakening American Virtue And Prosperity, Good Reads, [1]
  • ...four very powerful corporate lobbies have repeatedly come out on top and turned our democracy into what might more accurately be called a corporatocracy.”
    • Building the New American Economy: Smart, Fair, and Sustainable," w:Good Reads, [2]
  • Here is my recommendation for President Trump and the new Congress. Turn immediately to our glorious national institutions, the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine, for a report to the nation on the key areas for science and technology investments in the coming generation. Ask them to recommend an organizational strategy for a science-based scaling up of national and global R&D efforts. Call on America’s research universities to add their own brainstorming to the work of the national academies. Later in 2017, the president and Congress should then meet in a joint session of Congress to set forth a new technology vision for the nation and an R&D strategy to achieve it.
    • Building the New American Economy: Smart, Fair, and Sustainable, w:Good Reads, [3]
  • The Panama Papers opened yet another window on the global system of financial corruption, showing how political leaders and businesses use shell companies in secrecy havens like the British Virgin Islands and many US states to evade taxes and hide corruption and other crimes. Yet the system of corruption depends on another factor beyond secrecy, one that is perhaps even more important: impunity. Impunity means that the rich and powerful escape from punishment even when their malfeasance is in full view.
  • Impunity is epidemic in America. The rich and powerful get away with their heists in broad daylight. ... The Journal recently opposed the corruption sentence of former Virginia governor Bob McDonnell for taking large gifts and bestowing official favors — because everybody does it. And one of its columnists praised Panama for facilitating the ability of wealthy individuals to hide their income from “predatory governments” trying to collect taxes. No kidding.


  • The US plutocracy has declared war on sustainable development. Billionaires such as Charles and David Koch (oil and gas), Robert Mercer (finance), and Sheldon Adelson (casinos) play their politics for personal financial gain. They fund Republican politicians who promise to cut their taxes, deregulate their industries, and ignore the warnings of environmental science, especially climate science.”


  • The truth about the US presence in Syria has rarely been told. But one can be sure that the US has had no scruples about democracy in Syria or elsewhere in the region, as its warm embrace of Saudi Arabia amply demonstrates. The US decided to promote an insurgency to overthrow Bashar al-Assad in 2011 not because the US and allies like Saudi Arabia longed for Syrian democracy, but because they decided that Assad was a hindrance to US regional interests. Assad’s sins were clear: he allied with Russia, and he received support from Iran.
  • The world economy is pumping trillions of dollars into the accounts of a few thousand people. These riches should be directed first and foremost to end the millions of needless deaths caused by extreme poverty, and to educate the hundreds of millions of children who lack schooling. The billionaires would still have enough left over to indulge their longing for mega-yachts, personal space ships, private tropical islands, and other conspicuous consumption.
  • The intensity of these rising because of climate change. This isn’t about the future – it’s about right now....The governments are not representing you properly right now. Because the planet is facing profound dangers, we’re all at risk, and our governments need to act. And they promised that they would act, and they’re not...we’re running out of time...because in Canberra and in Washington and in other places they are not representing the common interest at all. They’re representing a few big companies, but not the people.
  • Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Netherlands, Germany – are the countries with the largest so-called social welfare states. They... have a degree of equality that is unmatched in other parts of the world... And people do want to go to work. The idea that this has taken away the work incentive is actually the opposite...a social welfare system does is enable people to live with dignity if they don’t have the means on their own.... We should have the decency to provide dignity for everybody.
  • Things like the proposed tech tax are actually a very good idea. The specific form of it is debatable, but the idea is that five companies are worth $3.5tn, basically because of network externalities and information monopolies, and therefore are absolutely right for efficient taxation... The marginal cost of production of AI is effectively zero. The ability to make these technologies available to the poorest countries at no cost is an evident option. So we should be taking special care to make sure that this revolution can reach everybody.
  • Down through the ages, presidents and princes around the world have been murderers and accessories to murder, as...documented in...masterwork Power and Morality. One of the... main findings was that the behavior of ruling groups tends to be more criminal and amoral than that of the people over whom they rule.
  • ...History is written by the rich, and so the poor get blamed for everything."
  • The Paris accord assumes that each government consults with its own country’s engineers to devise a national energy strategy, with each of the 193 UN member states essentially producing a separate plan... Global engineering systems require global coordination. ...Both the scale and reliability of... globally connected high-tech systems are astounding, and depend on solutions implemented internationally, not country by country.
  • The transition to renewable energy can be greatly accelerated if the world’s governments finally bring the engineers to the fore... I was recently on a panel with three economists and a senior business-sector engineer. After the economists spoke... the engineer spoke succinctly and wisely. “I don’t really understand what you economists were just speaking about, but I do have a suggestion... Tell us engineers the desired ‘specs’ and the timeline, and we’ll get the job done.” This is not bravado.... The next big act belongs to the engineers. Energy transformation for climate safety is our twenty-first-century moonshot.


  • The US foreign policy establishment had rhetorically justified America’s presence in Syria as part of the war on the Islamic State (ISIS). With ISIS essentially defeated and dispersed, Trump called the establishment’s bluff. Yet suddenly, the establishment declared the actual reasons for the extended US presence. Trump’s move, it was charged, would hand geopolitical advantages to Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, Russia’s Vladimir Putin, and Iran’s Ali Khamenei, while imperiling Israel, betraying the Kurds, and causing other ills that are essentially unrelated to ISIS.
  • This shift had the benefit of unmasking America’s real purposes in the Middle East, which are not so obscure, after all, except for the fact that mainstream pundits, US establishment strategists, and members of Congress tend not to mention them in polite company. The United States has not been in Syria (or Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, the Horn of Africa, Libya, and elsewhere in the region) because of ISIS. In fact, ISIS was more a consequence than a cause of the US presence. The real purposes have been US regional hegemony; and the real consequences have been disastrous.
  • We are in the process of utterly wrecking the planet by burning fossil fuels and thereby raising Earth’s temperature. We are now experiencing higher temperatures than in any decade of the past 10,000 years, and the temperature continues to rise. As a result, humanity faces the risk of a catastrophic multimeter sea level rise at the current or slightly warmer temperature.
  • Enter the Green New Deal. It endorses the science... We’re not talking about a bit less emissions; we're talking about a phaseout of emissions by 2050 in order to have a fighting chance to hold Earth’s temperature rise to 1.5-degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial level, a rise that should not in any way be construed as “safe,” just potentially not catastrophic.


  • This policy is unconscionable and flagrantly against international law. It is imperative that the U.S. lift these immoral and illegal sanctions to enable Iran and Venezuela to confront the epidemic as effectively and rapidly as possible,
    • Quoted in; Economists Demand Trump Immediately Lift Iran, Cuba, and Venezuela Sanctions That Are 'Feeding the Coronavirus Epidemic', Jake Johnson, Common Dreams, (19 March 2020)
  • The US is a force for division, not for cooperation... It's a force for trying to create a new cold war with China. If this takes hold - if that kind of approach is used, then we won't go back to normal, indeed we will spiral into greater controversy and greater danger in fact.
    The US lost its step on 5G, which is a critical part of the new digital economy. And Huawei was taking a greater and greater share of global markets... The US concocted in my opinion, the view that Huawei is a global threat. And has leaned very hard on US allies... to try to break the relations with Huawei.
    Do I believe that China could do more to ease fears that are very real? I do.... The big choice frankly is in China's hands. If China is cooperative, if it engages in diplomacy, regional cooperation and multilateralism…. then I think that Asia has an incredibly bright future.

America’s Unholy Crusade Against China, Jeffrey Sachs, (5 August 2020)


(full text)

  • Last month, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivered an anti-China speech that was extremist, simplistic, and dangerous. If biblical literalists like Pompeo remain in power past November, they could well bring the world to the brink of a war that they expect and perhaps even seek.
    According to Pompeo, Chinese leader Xi Jinping and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) harbor a “decades-long desire for global hegemony.” This is ironic... Pompeo’s zealous excesses have deep roots in American history... Pompeo himself is a biblical literalist who believes that the end time, the apocalyptic battle between good and evil, is imminent. Pompeo described his beliefs...: America is a Judeo-Christian nation, the greatest in history, whose task is to fight God’s battles until the Rapture, when Christ’s born-again followers, like Pompeo, will be swept to heaven at the Last Judgment... Pompeo’s inflammatory anti-China rhetoric could become even more apocalyptic in the coming weeks, if only to fire up the Republican base ahead of the election.
  • According to Pompeo [U.S. Secretary of State], Chinese leader Xi Jinping and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) harbor a “decades-long desire for global hegemony.” This is ironic. Only one country – the US – has a defense strategy calling for it to be the “preeminent military power in the world,” with “favorable regional balances of power in the Indo-Pacific, Europe, the Middle East, and the Western Hemisphere.” China’s defense white paper, by contrast, states that “China will never follow the beaten track of big powers in seeking hegemony,” and that, “As economic globalization, the information society, and cultural diversification develop in an increasingly multi-polar world, peace, development, and win-win cooperation remain the irreversible trends of the times.”
  • One is reminded of Jesus’s own admonition: “Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:5).
  • US military spending totaled $732 billion in 2019, nearly three times the $261 billion China spent. The US.. has around 800 overseas military bases, while China has just one (a small naval base in Djibouti). The US has many military bases close to China, which has none anywhere near the US. The US has 5,800 nuclear warheads; China has roughly 320. The US has 11 aircraft carriers; China has one. The US has launched many overseas wars in the past 40 years; China has launched none (though it has been criticized for border skirmishes, most recently with India, that stop short of war).
  • The world took relatively little notice of Pompeo’s speech, which offered no evidence to back up his claims of China’s hegemonic ambition. China’s rejection of US hegemony does not mean that China itself seeks hegemony. Indeed, outside of the US, there is little belief that China aims for global dominance. China’s explicitly stated national goals are to be a “moderately prosperous society” by 2021 (the centenary of the CPC), and a “fully developed country” by 2049 (the centennial of the People’s Republic).
  • Moreover, at an estimated $10,098 in 2019, China’s GDP per capita was less than one-sixth that of the US ($65,112) – hardly the basis for global supremacy. China still has a lot of catching up to do to achieve even its basic economic development goals. Assuming that Trump loses in November’s presidential election, Pompeo’s speech will likely receive no further notice. The Democrats will surely criticize China, but without Pompeo’s brazen exaggerations. Yet, if Trump wins, Pompeo’s speech could be a harbinger of chaos. Pompeo’s evangelism is real, and white evangelicals are the political base of today’s Republican Party. Pompeo’s zealous excesses have deep roots in American history.
  • If Trump is defeated, as seems likely, the risk of a US confrontation with China will recede. But if he remains in power, whether by a true electoral victory, vote fraud, or even a coup (anything is possible), Pompeo’s crusade would probably proceed, and could well bring the world to the brink of a war that he expects and perhaps even seeks.


  • What we’ve been hearing from the panelists is how the global food system works right now... It’s based on large multinational companies, private profits, and very low international transfers to help poor people (sometimes no transfers at all). It’s based on the extreme irresponsibility of powerful countries with regard to the environment. And it’s based on a radical denial of the economic rights of poor people... We’ve just heard from the Minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Many point a finger of blame at the DRC and other poor countries for their poverty. Yet we don’t seem to remember, or want to remember, that starting around 1870, King Leopold of Belgium created a slave colony in the Congo that lasted for around 40 years; and then the government of Belgium ran the colony for another 50 years. In 1961, after independence of the DRC, the CIA then assassinated the DRC’s first popular leader, Patrice Lumumba, and installed a US-backed dictator, Mobutu Sese Seko, for roughly the next 30 years. And in recent years, Glencore and other multinational companies suck out the DRC’s cobalt without paying a level of royalties and taxes. We simply don’t reflect on the real history of the DRC and other poor countries struggling to escape from poverty. Instead, we point fingers at these countries and say, “What’s wrong with you? Why don’t you govern yourselves properly?”
    • Jeffrey Sachs' speech at the UN Food Systems Pre-summit, Speech transcript (July 27, 2021)
  • We just heard from the Minister of Honduras. Let us recall that United Fruit Company essentially ran his country for a long time. United Fruit’s attorney was US Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, and his brother Allen Dulles was the head of the CIA. On behalf of United Fruit Company, the two Dulles Brothers conspired to overthrow President Jacobo Árbenz of Guatemala, next door to Honduras, in order to stop the land reforms that Árbenz was trying to implement.
    So, yes, we have a global food system, but we need a different system. That different system must be based on the principle of universal human dignity in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the principle of national sovereignty in the UN Charter, and the economic rights in the Universal Declaration and the International Covenant of Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights. In the Universal Declaration, all governments agreed that social protection is a human right, not merely a “nice thing,” or a pleasant thing, but a basic human right. That was 73 years ago. The Sustainable Development Goals are our generation’s pledge to honor the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Yet I come from a country that not only doesn’t care about the world’s poor, it doesn’t even care about its own poor. One in seven Americans is hungry right now, but one political party cares about little more than cutting taxes for the rich and filibustering any real solutions to poverty.
    • Jeffrey Sachs' speech at the UN Food Systems Pre-summit, Speech transcript (July 27, 2021)
  • We need the United Nations as the core and central institution of our world. The only way we’re going to have a peaceful, civilized world is through a strong UN. It’s absurd that the UN core budget is a mere $3 billion per year, when New York City’s budget is around $100 billion. We chronically underfund the UN system and then ask, “Why don’t things work well?”
  • The rich individuals are increasingly hoarding everything. If the billionaires want to go to space, they could at least leave their money on Earth to solve the critical Earthbound problems. We now have an estimated 2,775 billionaires with a combined net worth of around $13.1 trillion. I have it on good authority that you don’t need more than $1 billion to live comfortably. Even if every billionaire kept $1 billion, that would leave around $10 trillion for ending hunger, poverty, and environmental destruction. We should be taxing the vast and rapidly growing billionaire wealth to help finance a civilized world.




  • The United States foreign policty is based on "regime change". So how much trust can there be, especially after events like the Maidan? The United States is not a peace-loving country, it is a power seeking country. [...] The United States has overthrown dozens of governments. It definitely contributed to the overthrow of Yanukovych. It definitely tried to overthrow al-Assad in Syria and was a major provocation of the war there. And I know this from the inside, not just from the outside. [...] I know from top people involved in these issues what I'm discussing right now.

Quotes about Sachs

  • The deepening cold war between the US and China will be a bigger worry for the world than coronavirus, according to influential economist Jeffrey Sachs. The world is headed for a period of "massive disruption without any leadership" in the aftermath of the pandemic, he told the BBC. The divide between the two superpowers will exacerbate this, he warned. The Columbia University professor blamed the US administration for the hostilities between the two countries.
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