23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism

Ha-Joon Chang, Bloomsbury, $25 (304p) ISBN 978-1-60819-166-6
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 [make] some readers uncomfortable...[;] it is time to get uncomfortable." (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 09/13/2010
Release date: 01/01/2011
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