False Economy: A Surprising Economic History of the World

False Economy: A Surprising Economic History of the World

by Alan Beattie
     
 

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A "provocative...persuasive" (The New York Times) book that examines countries' economic destinies.

In False Economy, Alan Beattie weaves together the economic choices, political choices, economic history, and human stories, that determine whether governments and countries remain rich or poor.

He also addresses larger questions

Overview

A "provocative...persuasive" (The New York Times) book that examines countries' economic destinies.

In False Economy, Alan Beattie weaves together the economic choices, political choices, economic history, and human stories, that determine whether governments and countries remain rich or poor.

He also addresses larger questions about why they make the choices they do, and what those mean for the future of our global economy. But despite the heady subject matter, False Economy is a lively and lucid book that engagingly and thought-provokingly examines macroeconomics, economic topics, and the fault lines and successes that can make or break a culture or induce a global depression. Along the way, readers will discover why Africa doesn't grow cocaine, why our asparagus comes from Peru, why our keyboard spells QWERTY, and why giant pandas are living on borrowed time.

Editorial Reviews

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.)

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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.
From the Publisher
New York Times Bestseller

"A thorough examination of economies from the age of empire to the age of the IMF... Beattie's analysis dazzles." -- The Washington Post

"Beattie, who studied history at Oxford University and economics at Cambridge, draws on both disciplines to overturn assumptions about the evolution of the global economy... False Economy is full of insightful nuggets." -- BusinessWeek

"Provocative... It would be fun to talk with Mr. Beattie at a dinner party." -- The New York Times

"Beattie's analytics show that facts can be a force for change. Give people hte facts, and they'll do the right thing." -- Bono

"A fascinating and insightful book." -- Mohamed A. El-Erian, CEO, PIMCO, and author of When Markets Collide

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781101046890
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
04/16/2009
Sold by:
Penguin Group
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
368
Sales rank:
1,060,721
File size:
357 KB
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
New York Times Bestseller

"A thorough examination of economies from the age of empire to the age of the IMF... Beattie's analysis dazzles." — The Washington Post

"Beattie, who studied history at Oxford University and economics at Cambridge, draws on both disciplines to overturn assumptions about the evolution of the global economy... False Economy is full of insightful nuggets." — BusinessWeek

"Provocative... It would be fun to talk with Mr. Beattie at a dinner party." — The New York Times

"Beattie's analytics show that facts can be a force for change. Give people hte facts, and they'll do the right thing." — Bono

"A fascinating and insightful book." — Mohamed A. El-Erian, CEO, PIMCO, and author of When Markets Collide

Meet the Author

Financial Times and author of the bestselling False Economy, Alan Beattie writes about economic globalization, trade, development, and aid. Before joining the Financial Times, he was an economist at the Bank of England. He holds degrees from the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge in history and economics, respectively. He lives in Washington, DC.

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