Bad Samaritans: The Myth of Free Trade and the Secret History of Capitalism

Bloomsbury Publishing USA
8
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"Lucid, deeply informed, and enlivened with striking illustrations." -Noam Chomsky

One economist has called Ha-Joon Chang "the most exciting thinker our profession has turned out in the past fifteen years." With Bad Samaritans, this provocative scholar bursts into the debate on globalization and economic justice.

Using irreverent wit, an engagingly personal style, and a battery of examples, Chang blasts holes in the "World Is Flat" orthodoxy of Thomas Friedman and other liberal economists who argue that only unfettered capitalism and wide-open international trade can lift struggling nations out of poverty. On the contrary, Chang shows, today's economic superpowers-from the U.S. to Britain to his native Korea-all attained prosperity by shameless protectionism and government intervention in industry. We have conveniently forgotten this fact, telling ourselves a fairy tale about the magic of free trade and-via our proxies such as the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and World Trade Organization-ramming policies that suit ourselves down the throat of the developing world.


Unlike typical economists who construct models of how the marketplace should work, Chang examines the past: what has actually happened. His pungently contrarian history demolishes one pillar after another of free-market mythology. We treat patents and copyrights as sacrosanct-but developed our own industries by studiously copying others' technologies. We insist that centrally planned economies stifle growth-but many developing countries had higher GDP growth before they were pressured into deregulating their economies. Both justice and common sense, Chang argues, demand that we reevaluate the policies we force on nations that are struggling to follow in our footsteps.
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About the author

Ha-Joon Chang was born in Seoul, South Korea, and teaches Economics and Development Studies at the University of Cambridge. His books include the international bestseller Bad Samaritans: The Myth of Free Trade and the Secret History of Capitalism, Kicking Away the Ladder, winner of the Myrdal Prize, and 23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism. Chang was awarded the Leontief Prize for Advancing the Frontiers of Economic Thought. He lives in Cambridge with his wife, Hee-Jeong Kim, and two children, Yuna, and Jin-Gyu.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Bloomsbury Publishing USA
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Published on
Aug 9, 2010
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Pages
288
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ISBN
9781596917385
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Language
English
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Genres
Business & Economics / Economic History
Business & Economics / Economics / General
Business & Economics / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Brilliant and engagingly written, Why Nations Fail answers the question that has stumped the experts for centuries: Why are some nations rich and others poor, divided by wealth and poverty, health and sickness, food and famine?

Is it culture, the weather, geography? Perhaps ignorance of what the right policies are?

Simply, no. None of these factors is either definitive or destiny. Otherwise, how to explain why Botswana has become one of the fastest growing countries in the world, while other African nations, such as Zimbabwe, the Congo, and Sierra Leone, are mired in poverty and violence?

Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson conclusively show that it is man-made political and economic institutions that underlie economic success (or lack of it). Korea, to take just one of their fascinating examples, is a remarkably homogeneous nation, yet the people of North Korea are among the poorest on earth while their brothers and sisters in South Korea are among the richest. The south forged a society that created incentives, rewarded innovation, and allowed everyone to participate in economic opportunities.

The economic success thus spurred was sustained because the government became accountable and responsive to citizens and the great mass of people. Sadly, the people of the north have endured decades of famine, political repression, and very different economic institutions—with no end in sight. The differences between the Koreas is due to the politics that created these completely different institutional trajectories.

Based on fifteen years of original research Acemoglu and Robinson marshall extraordinary historical evidence from the Roman Empire, the Mayan city-states, medieval Venice, the Soviet Union, Latin America, England, Europe, the United States, and Africa to build a new theory of political economy with great relevance for the big questions of today, including:

- China has built an authoritarian growth machine. Will it continue to grow at such high speed and overwhelm the West?

- Are America’s best days behind it? Are we moving from a virtuous circle in which efforts by elites to aggrandize power are resisted to a vicious one that enriches and empowers a small minority?

- What is the most effective way to help move billions of people from the rut of poverty to prosperity? More philanthropy from the wealthy nations of the West? Or learning the hard-won lessons of Acemoglu and Robinson’s breakthrough ideas on the interplay between inclusive political and economic institutions?

Why Nations Fail will change the way you look at—and understand—the world. 
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