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23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism
     

23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism

3.5 6
by Ha-Joon Chang
 

Thing 1: There is no such thing as free market.
Thing 4: The washing machine has changed the world more than the Internet.
Thing 5: Assume the worst about people, and you get the worst.
Thing 13: Making rich people richer doesn't make the rest of us richer.

If you've wondered how we did not see the economic collapse coming, Ha-Joon

Overview

Thing 1: There is no such thing as free market.
Thing 4: The washing machine has changed the world more than the Internet.
Thing 5: Assume the worst about people, and you get the worst.
Thing 13: Making rich people richer doesn't make the rest of us richer.

If you've wondered how we did not see the economic collapse coming, Ha-Joon Chang knows the answer: We didn't ask what they didn't tell us about capitalism. This is a lighthearted book with a serious purpose: to question the assumptions behind the dogma and sheer hype that the dominant school of neoliberal economists-the apostles of the freemarket-have spun since the Age of Reagan.

Chang, the author of the international bestseller Bad Samaritans, is one of the world's most respected economists, a voice of sanity-and wit-in the tradition of John Kenneth Galbraith and Joseph Stiglitz. 23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism equips readers with an understanding of how global capitalism works-and doesn't. In his final chapter, "How to Rebuild the World," Chang offers a vision of how we can shape capitalism to humane ends, instead of becoming slaves of the market.

Ha-Joon Chang teaches in the Faculty of Economics at the University of Cambridge. His books include the bestselling Bad Samaritans: The Myth of Free Trade and the Secret History of Capitalism. His Kicking Away the Ladder received the 2003 Myrdal Prize, and, in 2005, Chang was awarded the Leontief Prize for Advancing the Frontiers of Economic Thought.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Chang (Bad Samaritans) takes on the "free-market ideologues," the stentorian voices in economic thought and, in his analysis, the engineers of the recent financial catastrophe. Free market orthodoxy has inserted its tenterhooks into almost every economy in the world--over the past three decades, most countries have privatized state-owned industrial and financial firms, deregulated finance and industry, liberalized international trade and investments, and reduced income taxes and welfare payments. But these policies have unleashed bubbles and ever increasing income disparity. How can we dig ourselves out? By examining the many myths in the narrative of free-market liberalism, crucially that the name is itself a misnomer: there is nothing "free" about a market where wages are largely politically determined; that greater macroeconomic stability has not made the world economy more stable; and a more educated population itself won't make a country richer. An advocate of big, active government and capitalism as distinct from a free market, Chang presents an enlightening précis of modern economic thought--and all the places it's gone wrong, urging us to act in order to completely rebuild the world economy: "This will some readers uncomfortable... it is time to get uncomfortable." (Jan.)
From the Publisher

“Chang, befitting his position as an economics professor at Cambridge University, is engagingly thoughtful and opinionated at a much lower decibel level. ‘The "truths" peddled by free-market ideologues are based on lazy assumptions and blinkered visions,' he charges.” —Time

“Chang presents an enlightening précis of modern economic thought--and all the places it's gone wrong, urging us to act in order to completely rebuild the world economy: ‘This will [make] some readers uncomfortable…[;] it is time to get uncomfortable.'” —Publishers Weekly

“Myth-busting and nicely-written collection of essays” —Independent (UK)

“Shaking Economics 101 assumptions to the core … Eminently accessible, with a clearly liberal (or at least anticonservative) bent, but with surprises along the way--for one, the thought that markets need to become less rather than more efficient.” —Kirkus Reviews

“For anyone who wants to understand capitalism not as economists or politicians have pictured it but as it actually operates, this book will be invaluable.” —John Gray, Observer (UK)

“A lively, accessible and provocative book.” —Sunday Times (UK)

“For 40 years, I have worked as a journalist and trained thousands of other journalists from my former perches as a University of Missouri Journalism School professor and as executive director of Investigative Reporters and Editors. I have written newspaper articles, magazine features and entire books with heavy doses of economics policy and business behavior. I wish the book 23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism had been available when I was a rookie; I would have been more alert to the hands-off-business catechism by which Americans are relentlessly indoctrinated.” —Steven Weinberg, Remapping Debate

“I doubt there is one book, written in response to the current economic crisis, that is as fun or easy to read as Ha-Joon Chang's 23 Things They Don't Tell you About Capitalism.” —AlterNet Executive Editor Don Hazen

Library Journal
Chang (economics, Univ. of Cambridge, UK; Bad Samaritans: The Myth of Free Trade and the Secret History of Capitalism) returns to deliver another candid volume on economics, breaking down his discussion into 23 "things" ranging from a postindustrial society to efficient markets. Each bite-sized section, about ten pages in length, contains a commonly held belief about capitalism followed by Chang's debunking of that myth. His discussion focuses not on moving away from capitalism as an economic system, but on the ways capitalism can be improved. In this vein, Chang offers seven ways to read the book based on the reader's knowledge of capitalism and interests. VERDICT Chang makes no secret of his not being a free-market economist, and all of his arguments demonstrate this. While 23 Things is a good overview of the big issues in economics for a general audience, those who are new to the subject may want to seek out other authors to develop a more balanced view of the topic.—Elizabeth Nelson, UOP Lib., Des Plaines, IL
Kirkus Reviews

Think the market is rational and that business knows best? Ha-Joon Chang (Economics/Univ. of Cambridge; Bad Samaritans: The Myth of Free Trade and the Secret History of Capitalism, 2007, etc.) argues otherwise.

The author takes clear delight in pricking holes in a variety of received-wisdom balloons, most of them emanating from rightward-tending theorists. Take the idea, for example, that the government cannot pick a winner in the marketplace, which is why the TARP bailout and the takeover of General Motors sat so poorly with so many business types. Wrong, says Ha-Joon Chang (and the success of both efforts would seem to bear him out): Governments are obviously capable of picking winners, but the hard part is getting them to improve their averages, just as is true of private enterprise (for which he cites the dreaded example of Microsoft Vista). "The free market doesn't exist," he writes, shaking Economics 101 assumptions to the core. Instead, all markets are restricted by rules and regulations, and necessarily so, while governments are always involved in the market. Wages, the hallmark distinction between rich and poor nations, are politically more than economically determined. "So, when free-market economists say that a certain regulation should not be introduced because it would restrict the 'freedom' of a certain market," writes the author, "they are merely expressing a political opinion that they reject the rights that are to be defended by the proposed law." Those rights are mostly those of workers, but the author, an equal-opportunity iconoclast, also insists that in rich countries, most people are paid more than they're worth. Only immigration controls keep the labor market from being flooded by workers from poor countries, who will accept lower rates of pay.

Eminently accessible, with a clearly liberal (or at least anticonservative) bent, but with surprises along the way—for one, the thought that markets need to become less rather than more efficient.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780141047973
Publisher:
Viking Penguin
Publication date:
09/28/2011

Meet the Author

Ha-Joon Chang teaches in the Faculty of Economics at the University of Cambridge. His books include the international bestseller Bad Samaritans: The Myth of Free Trade and the Secret History of Capitalism and Kicking Away the Ladder, winner of the 2003 Myrdal Prize. In 2005, Chang was awarded the Leontief Prize for Advancing the Frontiers of Economic Thought.

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