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Bad Samaritans: The Myth of Free Trade and…

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

by Ha-Joon Chang

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Already read this. Very interesting criticism of neoliberal trade policy, and has some very relevant remarks on 'culture' and economic development. Argues that protectionism is a necessary component of international development, to prevent the industries of more developed companies to completely dismantle any competition. ( )
  HadriantheBlind | Mar 30, 2013 |
This book is one of the best economics books that I have read. The number of insights per page is very high here and no one else seems to be making these arguments which is a rare thing indeed. ( )
  CosmicPariah | Jan 9, 2013 |
This is a very readable discussion of “globalism” from a point of view of an expert dissenter on the topic. The author makes the case that strong first world countries, and international organizations (IMF, World Bank, and WTO) controlled by them, often set rules of free trade which ostensibly are fair, but actually favor the first world countries. And moreover, these rules were deliberately ignored by the same countries during the decades or centuries of their own economic development. The arguments are supported with very informative footnotes and references. The author is an economist who grew up in South Korea while South Korea was growing from a very poor country to an industrial power. His description of Korea then and now is one of the most interesting parts of the book. The last two chapters - on democracy and economics, and on culture and economics - are the most subjective, in my opinion. However, the opinions are informative and well supported with references.

If you think economics is dismal and dry, you are correct. But this book overcomes both of those faults. ( )
  dougb56586 | Feb 27, 2011 |
1 vote | leese | Nov 23, 2009 |
Finally, some facts and empirics on globalization, trade and development. This is a book I wish I'd read when I took my economics and international trade courses. Chang shows that the neo-liberal free-trade agenda is based on assumptions and beliefs that in fact do not reflect reality. He shows in detail how those countries that did improve their relative position and are now economically developed - the US, UK, Finland, Japan, South Korea - and those developing countries that are doing the best - including China - are those that ignore the neoliberal strictures. All these countries practiced some forms of protectionism, none of them followed the neo-liberal line. Chang makes a good argument that following neoliberalism is the surest way to remain underdeveloped and poor. Chang is not against trade, and shows how it does help countries develop. He's just against the neoliberal version because it prevents development.

This book should be required reading for anyone interested in international trade. It won't change the mind of the true believers - who seem to see neoliberalism as some religious faith - but for most people it'll be an interesting and much needed addition to our understanding of trade and development. ( )
6 vote sabreader | Jan 12, 2009 |
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Contrarian economist Chang blasts holes in the "World Is Flat" theories of Thomas Friedman and other neo-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 United States to Britain to his native South Korea--all attained prosperity by protectionism and government intervention in industry. We in the wealthy nations have conveniently forgotten this fact, telling ourselves a fairy tale about the magic of free trade and forcing policies that suit ourselves on the developing world. Unlike typical economists who construct models of how economies are supposed to behave, Chang examines the past: what has actually happened. He calls on America to return to its abandoned role, embodied in programs like the Marshall Plan, to offer a helping hand, instead of a closed fist, to countries struggling to follow in our footsteps.--From publisher description.… (more)

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