Jeffrey Sachs in Africa

When Jeffrey Sachs visited Bolivia to observe its 60,000 percent hyperinflation first-hand in 1985, he was amazed to find that he was virtually the only Western economist in the country.

In 1989, Sachs flew to Poland to advise that nation's new government on its economic reformation (the so-called Big Bang). "The Berlin Wall was coming down," he recalled, "communism was falling, and I was pinching myself, because I was at the center of this, absolutely the epicenter of it, saying, 'Where is everybody?'" Three years later, he had a similar experience in Russia.

Then AIDS began to devastate Africa. "I would say to myself," Sachs later remarked, "'Of course the world is going to descend on this for a hundred reasons -- the humanitarian reason, the ability to do something, the puzzle of how you could have a pandemic of this scale...'" Yet, once again Sachs was virtually alone.

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