Photo taken from New York Times Online.  Photo by How Hwee Young/European Pressphoto Agency

(The New York Times)  The Gates/Buffett Philanthropic Challenge–The Giving Pledge, as it is called–continues to reap successful response worldwide.  Mr. Gates and Mr. Buffett traveled to China for their latest venture to encourage charitable efforts, particularly from the wealthiest, and though some Americans expressed skepticism regarding China’s philanthropic tendencies, Mr. Buffett and Mr. Gates both report success.  Mr. Buffett, who jokingly confirmed that the main difference between eating with tycoons in China and eating with tycoons in America was the food, said: “I was amazed last night, really, at how similar the questions and discussions and all that was to the dinners we had in the U.S.  The same motivations tend to exist. The mechanism for manifesting those motivations may differ from country to country.”  Mr. Gates and Mr. Buffett expect to travel to other countries in the near future and continue to spread the word about philanthropy.

(The Wall Street Journal)  How efficiently economists handle world poverty has become a heated issue for World Bank President Robert Zoellick.  “Too often research economists seem not to start with the key knowledge gaps facing development practitioners, but rather search for questions they can answer with the industry’s currently favorite tools,” Mr. Zoellick said in a speech at Georgetown University.  Mr. Zoellick’s bold statement has naturally sparked some debate among renowned economists : Nobel-Prize winning economist Michael Spence, for instance, lauded Mr. Zoellick’s statement as “generally not only in the right direction, but very useful,” and Dani Rodrik, a Harvard economist, said, “The speech hit all the right notes: the need for economists to demonstrate humility, eschew blueprints…and focus on evaluation but not at the expense of the big questions.”  Yet not all fawned over the remarks; William Easterly, a former World Bank economist, questions the statement on foreign aid, saying Mr. Zoellick is “amazingly presumptuous” and that the current system is sufficient and effective.  Still, Mr. Zoellick insists, “No longer can the model solely be to research a specific issue and write a paper hoping someone will read it.  The new model must be ‘wholesale’ and networked.”