Bad Samaritans

Bad Samaritans

The Myth of Free Trade and the Secret History of Capitalism

Book - 2008
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A rising young star in the field of economics attacks the free-trade orthodoxy of The World Is Flat head-on--a crisp, contrarian history of global capitalism.

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.

Publisher: New York : Bloomsbury, [2008]
Copyright Date: ©2008
ISBN: 9781596913998
Characteristics: xi, 276 pages ; 24 cm


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Mar 21, 2017

This is an informally written book that aims to debunk the development economics ideology of the 'Chicago boys' (free trade, open markets globalization agenda), by using simple explanations and historical examples. My favorite chapter was the sixth, on IP (including introducing but not developing ideas like patent pools and matching policies), and the last chapter, on culture, was one I looked forward to, but whilst it was funny, it was a bit disappointing (its the weakest chapter).

Sep 13, 2013

Written for an popular audience. Academic audience version is "Kicking Away to Ladder". Summary: History shows developed nations have developed using government intervention (protectionism, etc.) in market, which they then both abandon when they become developed (as unnecessary any longer) and try to prevent less developed nations from using (either to avoid more competition, or rewriting of own history).

Oct 20, 2010

Finally, an antidote to neoliberal economic baffle-gab that is easy to understand... well worth the listen.

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