Bad Samaritans by Ha-joon Chang

Why you should read this book: Economist Hajoon Chang takes on the prevailing wisdom of free market capitalism that encourages privatization, balanced budgets, free trade, austerity, reversal of labor market regulations, free capital flows, restrictive monetary policy, etc, from the perspective of developing countries. Chang shows how countries that have avoided the neoliberal consensus by aggressive state ownership and control over the economy, seizing control of capital flows, tightly regulated trade, and embraced economic regulations have been the ones to successfully transition from impoverished countries to fully developed countries. Countries that have adhered to the neoliberal consensus have actually gotten more impoverished and reversed the development they had achieved prior to the neoliberal revolution. Taking particular pains to dismantle the myth that free trade is always better due to “comparative advantages” theorized by economic theory, Chang points out that the two most successful economies in the world–those of the USA and UK–also had the most restrictive trade policies in the history of the world during their industrialization.

This book club met September 10, 2018 at Rochambo Coffee and Tea House