False Economy: A Surprising Economic History Of The World

False Economy: A Surprising Economic History Of The World

by Alan Beattie
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

Throughout history, individual decisions have shaped the economic destinies of nations. No country's fate is determined simply by geography, history, religion, or natural resources. In False Economy, Alan Beattie tackles misconceptions about the modern world, looking back at history through economic binoculars, questioning various assumptions about Islam,See more details below

Overview

Throughout history, individual decisions have shaped the economic destinies of nations. No country's fate is determined simply by geography, history, religion, or natural resources. In False Economy, Alan Beattie tackles misconceptions about the modern world, looking back at history through economic binoculars, questioning various assumptions about Islam, Africa, corruption, government subsidies, and more. Wholly accessible, brilliantly argued, and full of surprises, it's not only a historical explanation of how the world got to its current point, but also a look at how our past affects our future.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Fascinating...the individual stories are mesmerizing...Beattie is a legendary economic journalist, whose analytical judgment is greater than most of his peers by an amount roughly equal to the income difference he reports between Botswana and Sierra Leone. [This] supremely entertaining and informative book is a great reminder that the details of success are often impossible to predict or prescribe." - Financial Times
Justin Moyer
Pop social science…is tricky. Authors risk sacrificing the intricacies of a scholarly discipline in the service of reader-friendly anecdotes. But Alan Beattie…resists this kind of reduction in False Economy, a thorough examination of economies from the age of empire to the age of the IMF…Beattie's analysis dazzles with particulars
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly

Financial Times world trade editor Beattie combines economic history, psychology and political analysis to identify the factors that predispose economies to sickness or health. The author takes a human interest, Freakonomics-style approach to such economic riddles as why Islamic nations stay mired in poverty (he argues that one reason might be the Qur'an's dictum against usury and interest-earning) and why Africa is dependent on exporting raw materials rather than commercial products (soaring temperatures and shoddy infrastructure). Beattie imbues economics with wonderful mystery as he untangles the mechanisms of the blood diamond trade and Peru's curious stranglehold on the global export of asparagus. Closer to home, Beattie examines the economic rivalry between Argentina and the United States a century ago; when Argentina seemed to be winning, the U.S. made a series of crucial decisions, moved forward and left Argentina poised for financial disaster. Thorough research, eclectic examples and a sprightly tone ("Puritans were not big on bling") should make this a hit among those interested in world economics-and a must-read alternative for those who couldn't get through Guns, Germs and Steel. (Apr.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Kirkus Reviews
Free markets are born of free societies. So why are our markets no longer free? Bad choices were made—therein lies the nub of Financial Times world trade editor Beattie's excursus into economic history..Progress, warns the author, is "fragile and reversible," and there are no inevitabilities involved: Capitalism is neither intrinsically bound to fail nor predestined to succeed; the United States is not wealthy because of exceptionalism, Africa poor because of some sort of original sin. All these conditions turn on choices, some freely made, some made by custom and even accident. For instance, Beattie notes, in the 19th century Argentina had the opportunity to be as wealthy as the United States, with plenty of resources and land and millions of cows with which to feed a hungry Europe. What kept it from emerging as a major power was its rigid adherence to class and caste, with illiterate immigrants doing grunt work while the children of the aristocracy basked. Meanwhile in America, upward mobility was standard. Beattie writes that globalization is nothing new. The late-19th and early-20th-century market was global too, so that wheat farmed in Nebraska cost about as much in London as it did in Chicago and currencies were valued fairly evenly. There are many elements that fuel economic failures: inefficiencies and excessive waste, retreats from globalism, structural impediments (for example, it takes coffee beans a month to get across Africa, held up at one customs stand after another) and corruption. All these figure prominently in Beattie's lucid exposition, which is often pleasingly arch, as when he likens a longshoreman's union agitating against containerization to "banditscontrolling the mountain pass.".A readable, timely discussion of the world economic system.

Read More

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780670068593
Publisher:
Penguin Canada
Publication date:
04/28/2009
Pages:
304

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >