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23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism [Paperback]

Ha-Joon Chang
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (91 customer reviews)
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Book Description

1 Sep 2011

Ha-Joon Chang's 23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism turns received economic wisdom on its head to show you how the world really works.

In this revelatory book, Ha-Joon Chang destroys the biggest myths of our times and shows us an alternative view of the world, including:

  • There's no such thing as a 'free' market
  • Globalization isn't making the world richer
  • We don't live in a digital world - the washing machine has changed lives more than the internet
  • Poor countries are more entrepreneurial than rich ones
  • Higher paid managers don't produce better results

We don't have to accept things as they are any longer. Ha-Joon Chang is here to show us there's a better way.

'Lively, accessible and provocative ... read this book'
  Sunday Times

'A witty and timely debunking of some of the biggest myths surrounding the global economy'
  Observer

'The new kid on the economics block ... Chang's iconoclastic attitude has won him fans'
  Independent on Sunday

'Lucid ... audacious ... increasingly influential ... will provoke physical symptoms of revulsion if you are in any way involved in high finance'

Guardian

'Important ... persuasive ... an engaging case for a more caring era of globalization'
  Financial Times

'A must-read ... incisive and entertaining'
  New Statesman Books of the Year

Ha-Joon Chang is a Reader in the Political Economy of Development at the University of Cambridge. He is author of Kicking Away the Ladder: Development Strategy in Historical Perspective, which won the 2003 Gunnar Myrdal Prize, and Bad Samaritans: Rich Nations, Poor Policies and the Threat to the Developing World. Since the beginning of the 2008 economic crisis, he has been a regular contributor to the Guardian, and a vocal critic of the failures of our economic system.


Frequently Bought Together

23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism + Bad Samaritans: The Guilty Secrets of Rich Nations and the Threat to Global Prosperity + Kicking Away the Ladder: Development Strategy in Historical Perspective: Policies and Institutions for Economic Development in Historical Perspective (Anthem Studies in Development and Globalization)
Price For All Three: 27.87

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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (1 Sep 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141047976
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141047973
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (91 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,769 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

A masterful debunking of some of the myths of capitalism ... Witty, iconoclastic and uncommonly commonsensical ... this book will be invaluable (Observer)

Important .. persuasive . [an] engaging case for a more cautious and caring era of globalisation (Financial Times)

Myth-busting and nicely-written . the best economists are those who look around at our man-made world and ask themselves "why?". Chang is one (Independent)

In 23 lucid, sometimes breezily didactic chapters, Chang takes apart the stricken ideology of neoliberalism. Chang's method is not to engage with the neoliberals but to knock them down with assertions. (Paul Mason, Economics Editor, BBC Newsnight Guardian)

Ha-Joon Chang is a formidable critic...and a true exponent of the art of political economy (Michael Lind Prospect)

Chang's...iconoclastic attitude has won him fans such as Bob Geldof and Noam Chomsky. (Rachel Shields The Independent on Sunday)

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)

About the Author

Born in South Korea, No 1 International Bestselling Author Ha-Joon Chang is a specialist in development economics and Reader in the Political Economy of Development at the University of Cambridge. In 2005, Chang was awarded the Wassily Leontief Prize for Advancing the Frontiers of Economic Thought. He is author of Kicking Away the Ladder: Development Strategy in Historical Perspective (2002), which won the 2003 Gunnar Myrdal Prize, and Bad Samaritans: Rich Nations, Poor Policies and the Threat to the Developing World (2007). Since the beginning of the 2008 economic crisis, he has been a regular contributor to the Guardian, and a vocal critic of the failures of our economic system.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
123 of 133 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
The financial crisis has sparked renewed debate about the free-market orthodoxy of the last 30 years, particularly in the so called Anglo-Saxon economies (US and UK), but also through international institutions like the WTO and World Bank. The crisis has even brought the debate to popular science magazines, asking if our current economic models should be torn up and re-formulated in exactly the same way as any other scientific theory doesn't agree with the results. Climate change is forcing us to face up to the unintended consequences of industry and consumption, forcing us to consider the 'true costs' of our activities and their effects on the wider environment. Many people are left to wonder if complex financial instruments created by hedge funds and banks, have ended up doing more damage to the real economy they were meant to benefit. Capitalism, in the form encouraged for three decades, appears to have turned on itself.

Ha-Joon Chang's book, brings these issues into lucid focus. This however isn't a socialist pamphlet - Capitalism is argued to be the least worse economic system we have invented (he doesn't trumpet for its superiority or inevitability). Like Nassim Taleb's 'Black Swan', the tendency is to go beyond 'what they tell you' (theory) and wish to explore what's really happening.

The 23 things brilliantly de-mythologize tenants of 'free market' ideology, through wonderfully lucid examples and lively discussion of the issues. The style isn't cold or academic (he's actually quite an amusing writer), so it's a lot of fun to read and lands its punches with strong arguments over slogans or empty rhetoric.
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74 of 81 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Popular anti-orthodoxy by Ha-Joon Chang 6 Nov 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Ha-Joon Chang, economist at Cambridge University, is a familiar author to many in the general public by now for his persistent and eloquent efforts (when writing) to combat the economic orthodoxy on several major policy points. In particular, he is known for his defense of protectionism as a means to promote economic growth and for his rejection of the idea that 'free trade' and 'free markets' lead to better outcomes than alternatives such as government dirigisme. In "23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism", he attempts to make the lessons of heterodoxy familiar to as wide a public as possible, addressing 23 orthodox economic clichés that are often accepted by a skeptical general public only because they seem to be supported by all in the economic field. In making the counterarguments accessible and generally known, Chang has done the English-speaking world a great service.

The 23 things he discusses can be roughly clustered into a number of groups: he discusses the orthodoxies of free trade as against protectionism, the orthodoxies of free markets as against government intervention, the orthodoxies of wage policy (particularly the idea that wages are infallibly determined by individual marginal productivity), the orthodoxy that inequality of income and outcome does not matter, and finally the idea that financial managers and economists know best. On all of these points, he has very important lessons to convey to policymakers, civil servants, and the general public to show that these things should either be rejected out of hand or be taken with a large truckload of salt. Using the strengths of economic history, he accessibly shows in each of these cases how the cliché is either refuted by the facts or itself an incoherent idea, or both.
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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
This isn't any old attack on the neo-liberal economic policies that have prevailed for the last few decades - it is devastatingly precise and uses quality evidence to back up all its claims. Having said that it is also very readable (having never studied economics, none of it felt too technical), without feeling like there's not enough detail for you to be getting the whole picture.

It takes apart free market ideology with panache, but gives only an outline of what is needed to take its place. Having said that, the principles he outlines in the conclusion are, you feel, extremely well targeted to reform capitalism in light of the evidence he mounts against neoliberal policies in the main part of the book. The conclusion is the only part where I would have preferred a little more from the author, on his ides for a better type of capitalism to replace the current system, but perhaps that is the next project he has in mind (I hope so!).
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A South Korean economics academic working in Cambridge has written this very useful book that arms you for arguments you may have with yourself (!) or friends about how economics actually works. He has the intellectual self confidence (teaching at Cambridge) and the independence of mind (an Asian living in Europe) to be more objective about economics than anything else I can think of. We are all blinkered in our outlook, but he is far less so. This book explodes many right wing ideological myths that have become accepted.

Let's face it, a lot of gunk we hear from people objecting to capitalism is even more nonsensical than the self-serving quasi-religious beliefs in the free market you get from people "earning" (well more accurately "being paid") hundreds of thousands a year for moderate work.

We need academics who can think independently and objectively, and explain their work. This book does just that.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Chang at his best.
A tremendous achievement- '23 things they don't tell you about capitalism' is a powerful and damning critique of neo-liberal thought. Read more
Published 18 days ago by Mr. Anuj Ghai
4.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Guide To Why Life Is As It Is
There is information in this book that I have been searching for for years and have not seen anywhere else. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Ralph Latter
5.0 out of 5 stars great
thanks, great book and definitely worth a read. especially for Economists and students at undergraduate level, really opens your eyes.
Published 2 months ago by Shakir Patel
5.0 out of 5 stars Eye-opening reading even for non-economists
This is an insightful, enjoyable read that has given me some understanding of the financial and economic issues of our times. Read more
Published 2 months ago by R Freeman
4.0 out of 5 stars Ha-Joon won't forment revolution, but he will give you pause for...
Is capitalism the best way to run the world? Ha-Joon thinks it is, but he has some reservations about it as well, which are aired in this book. Read more
Published 3 months ago by eric.rayner@btinternet.com
4.0 out of 5 stars A Good ... Bad read about a subject which claims to be a discipline -...
Economics what a joke - that which is claimed to be a way of mamaging the economies of a society or Country is so ephemeral as to be no more than a wishlist of whimsy's for the... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Gaarghoile
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential Primer
In 23 bite-size chunks, this book provides an essential primer to raise awareness and help us understand how we got into this mess and what we need to do to create a fairer, more... Read more
Published 3 months ago by David McC
5.0 out of 5 stars 23 Things they Don't tell you etc.
This was purchased as a gift, hterefore I an unable to comment on it's content.
Delivery was quick, well within the stimated time scale & appears to be good value.
Published 4 months ago by Peter Carr
4.0 out of 5 stars Beyond the usual left rhetoric, worthwhile
Four out of five stars because it was useful, but not written with the passion for justice which can make a work like this memorable
Published 4 months ago by roderick Snell
5.0 out of 5 stars An Eye Opener
If you are curious but know little about capitalism this is the book for you. All the things you might have suspected but not able to put your finger one ach one, are revealed. Read more
Published 6 months ago by J Hattrick
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