… is from pages 39-40 of GMU Econ alum Abby Hall Blanco’s comment that appears as part of William Easterly’s superb 2016 monograph, The Economics of International Development: Foreign Aid versus Freedom for the World’s Poor (links added):
A planner, according to Easterly, ‘thinks he already knows the answers.’ A searcher, by contrast, ‘admits he doesn’t know the answers in advance; he believes that poverty is a complicated triangle of political, social, historical, institutional and technological factors’ (Easterly 2006: 6).
Many economists and other development experts are clearly best described as ‘planners’ in this sense. The dominant narrative in current development agencies is that enlightened experts can design reforms and other programmes to fix development problems. Just as Hayek and Mises warned, this planning has often resulted in failure. While experts may have a general idea of what conditions are necessary for economic development, they lack the knowledge of how to develop these conditions where they are not present.