Carl-Henri Prophète on Haitian economic growth

He writes to me:

…just to let you know that Haiti’s economy grew by 4.3% in 2013. This is the highest growth rate since the 1970s excluding post embargo and post earthquake years (1995 and 2011). Nothing spectacular, but worth noticing I think. Some people may question these numbers in a country where the National Statistics Institute regularly looses its best staff to NGOs where they can earn 3 times their previous salary. But there is a general feel that economic activity was definitely higher than usual in 2013.

This is partly due to luck: There were no hurricanes or major drought period during the year, so agriculture which accounts for around a 1/4 of the economy grew by 4.6%. The construction sector did also well (+9%) thanks to major infrastructure investment by the government funded by generous Venezuelan aid and some major private investments (in the hotel sector for instance). Exports also increased in real terms by 5%. By the way, there are two firms assembling low cost Android tablets in the country now, which may lead to a greater diversification in exports away from garments in the future. (see here here

However, inequality is still very high and even more spatially visible as the relatively wealthy suburb of Petion Ville is booming and has became the de-facto capital since the earthquake. Also, there are questions about how long this Venezuelan aid will last and its impact on the country’s debt, corruption and government accountability. Furthermore, there should be elections for many parliament seats in 2014 which may fuel political instability.


Why is there not an ignorant comment about Haiti from some foaming racist who's never been there here yet?

I'll start: "I hate Haiti".

A story about Haiti during the earthquake was related by John Mauldin, the e-zine guru, who wrote a decent bearish book "Code Red" I read recently: some finance type went to Haiti and had a dislike of big luxury hotels when traveling abroad, instead preferring to sleep under the stars in a tent. But the day of the earthquake he had to go to a big luxury hotel to sign some contract, reluctantly he went, and the roof fell in on him. Isn't it ironic? That's what I remember about Haiti, as well as the canard about how the next door neighbor the Dominican Republic is verdant while Haiti is deforested and brown (or so it's said). Here in the Philippines they also use charcoal for fuel and I'm not sure how sustainable it is, I suspect they are not replanting enough trees to compensate for the ones chopped down. 10 units of fresh wood makes 1 unit of charcoal.

I'll second. Haiti is apparently entirely capable of generating its own wealth and all the government and government-funded and charitable busybodies wandering around down there need to leave. Oh, and the Haitians can stay in Haiti, a country made just for them.

Haiti speaks for itself.

The state of Haiti is a tragedy. Anyone who gives a damn about the country or the people, even at third hand, ought to be is despair about the situation. And they should be interested in solutions.

But it seems that some liberals would prefer to use the opportunity to be Conspicuously Compassionate. Not help. No, that would be hard. It has been tried and it doesn't work.

But we know Haiti is a disaster. We know that there is no solution. Better to distance yourself from people who are realistic about the situation and make sure everyone knows how sensitive and non-racist you are. Why not make it all about you?

Every liberal nostrum has been tried in Haiti. From what I can see all that has worked has been French slavery, which is not even possible as a thought experiment and American occupation, which is not realistic. Why not try a little racism? It can hardly work worse than the NGOs. All trying to show the world how compassionate they are.

"Why is there not an ignorant comment about Haiti from some foaming racist who’s never been there here yet?"

Indeed. As an example of this disturbing phenomenon, last month I was reading what on it's surface seemed like a really good history of the Roman Empire, but then I got to the end and read the author's bio. He was born in 1962! Do you realize this means that by nearly two thousand years he'd NEVER EVEN BEEN to the Roman Empire, and now this ignorant bastard was trying to tell me about it?

I also went through a childhood interest in astronomy, but soon realized that none of these guys had ever been off planet, so what they hell did they know about it?

So this classicist born in 1962 was also an ignorant foaming racist? Oops I guess that means I'm one too...

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