You have probably read everything you want to about Warren Buffett's decision to donate about $37 billion (£20 billion) to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. (If not, go read what my colleague Ruth Levine has written on our global development policy blog, Views from the Center.)
I offer two additional thoughts.
- First, it is very refreshing to see somebody decide to support an existing, effective institution rather than start a new one. The world does not need more development institutions and more donors. Very rich men are often filled with a combination of irrepressible self-belief and large egos, and as a result want to establish their own foundations, in their own name. By backing the Gates Foundation, Warren Buffett has shown rare and commendable humility.
- Second, Greg Mankiw picked up in his blog yesterday that even this massive individual donation is small by comparison with what governments can do to reduce poverty by making changes in the international trading system:
In other words, success in the Doha round of international trade talks would give the world more every year than what Buffett can give once after a lifetime of being the world's most successful investor.
(Full disclosure: my employer, the Center for Global Development, receives grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation).