Chang Ha-Joon: Debunking modern myths

Chang Ha-Joon, formal title as:
Reader in the Political Economy of Development at the Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge;
also known as a Heterodox economist;
but I prefer to call him an economics and history Mythbuster.

One of the few lone voices calling out against the myths and untruths in the wasteland of what is currently ‘orthodox’ economic history.
I wonder how long it will take for Chang’s view, and of others like him, to become accepted in the main.
Well, at least time and momentum is on his side.

And the book from which the Chang quotes in the previous post was taken, Kicking Away the Ladder: Development Strategy in Historical Perspective [2002].

Chang knows that his views run counter to current accepted orthodoxy, and so, even included the following ‘health warning’ in the introduction:

Many of these accounts go almost completely against what most of us know (or think we know) about the economic histories of these countries. Particularly striking to the contemporary reader are List’s analyses of Britain and the USA — the supposed homes of liberal economic policy.

A ‘Health Warning’

What this book is about to say will undoubtedbly disturb many people, both intellectually and morally. Many of the myths that they have taken for granted or even passionately believed in will be challenged, in the same way that many of my own assumptions were challenged in the process of researching it. Some of the conclusions may be morally uncomfortable for some readers. Of course, I claim no moral superiority for the arguments put forward. I hope, however, to reveal some of the complexities surrounding these issues which have long been obscured by ahistorical and often moralistic arguments.

–Chang Ha-Joon, Kicking Away the Ladder: Development Strategy in Historical Perspective [2002]

Here is the book’s Table of Contents (the various chapter titles should whet the enquiring reader’s appetite):

Introduction: How did the Rich Countries Really Become Rich?
Some Methodological Issues: Drawing Lessons from History
Policies for Economic Development: Industrial, Trade and Technology Policies in Historical Perspective
The Catch-up Strategies
The Pulling-Ahead Strategy by the Leader and the Responses of the Catching-up Countries–Britain and its Followers
Policies for Industrial Development: Some Historical Myths and Lessons
Institutions and Economic Development: ‘Good Governance’ in Historical Perspective
The History of Institutional Development in the Developed Countries
Institutional development in developing countries then and now
Lessons for the Present
Rethinking Economic Policies for Development
Rethinking Institutional Development
Possible Objections
Concluding Remarks

And if that doesn’t do it, here’s the backcover summary:

How did the rich countries really become rich? In this provocative new study, Ha-Joon Chang examines the great pressure on developing countries from the developed world to adopt certain ‘good policies’ and ‘good institutions’, seen today as necessary for economic development. Adopting a historical approach, Dr Chang finds that the economic evolution of now-developed countries differed dramatically from the procedures that they now recommend to poorer countries. His conclusions are compelling and disturbing: that developed countries are attempting to ‘kick away the ladder’ by which they have climbed to the top, thereby preventing developing countries from adopting policies and institutions that they themselves used.

And here’s a review by the American Library Association:

Chang’s premise is that developed countries have protectionism and interventionist policies to thank for that development. Help offered to less developed economies depends on their pursuit of free trade and laissez faire policies, which prevent them from achieving the results of today’s more developed countries. Chang (Cambridge Univ.) presents historical references related to the growth of industrialized economies along with widely circulated myths regarding the paths to development in those countries. The author contends that developing countries are being denied the true path to development, either because of well-intentioned but ultimately misguided analysis of the impact of policy on growth or a more malign desire of the industrialized world to maintain economic distance from less developed countries. Furthermore, he asserts that the policy prescriptions advocated by neoliberal observers result in less, not more, growth.

Here are some other interesting books by Chang:

-The Northern WTO Agenda on Investment: Do as we say, not as we did
-Bad Samaritans: Rich Nations, Poor Policies, and the Threat to the Developing World
-Reclaiming Development: An Alternative Economic Policy Manual

and the TOC for the last book:

Myths and Realities About Development
Myth I: History Shows that Free Markets Are Best
Myth II: Neo-Liberalism Works
Myth III: Globalisation Cannot and Should Not Be Stopped
Myth IV: The (Neo-Liberal) American Model of Capitalism Represents the Ideal that All
Developing Countries Should Seek to Replicate
Myth V: The East Asian Model is Idiosyncratic The Anglo-American Model is Universal
Myth VI: Developing Countries Need Discipline Discipline is Provided by International Institutions Like the IMF and the WTO, and by Independent Domestic Institutions, Such As Currency Boards
Policy Alternatives
Policy Alternatives I: Trade and Industry
Policy Alternatives II: Privatisation and Property Rights
Policy Alternatives III: International Private Capital Flows
Policy Alternatives
Domestic Financial Regulation
Policy Alternatives V: Macroeconomic Policies and Institutions

So there.


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