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on 9 May 2008
This is one economics text that should be read by everyone. Ha-Joon Chang the author(Prof. at Cambridge), puts Free Trade and unfettered Capitalism within a historical and even political perspective. Along with an earlier book, "Kicking Away the Ladder" he gives sufficient and tangible real world examples of how developing nations and infant & growing industries need tariffs & import substitution to both thrive and survive. An alternative title might be; Genuine & Honest Free Trade Maybe BUT Only Between Economic Equals.

[Amazon UK: See my review at]
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on 8 January 2009
In this brilliant book, Ha-Joon Chang, Assistant Director of Development Studies at Cambridge University, asks how rich countries became rich, whether free trade is the answer, whether countries should regulate foreign investment, whether private enterprise is always good and public enterprise always bad, whether it is wrong to borrow ideas, whether financial prudence can go too far, whether we should shun corrupt and undemocratic countries, whether some cultures are incapable of economic development, and whether things can get better.

Neo-liberal globalisation - de-regulation, privatisation and liberalised finance, trade and investment - has cut growth, equality and stability. In the 1960s and 1970s, the developing countries grew 3% per head, twice as much as in the years since 1980. In the period 1945-71, before the global financial market was liberalised, the developing countries had no banking crises and just 16 currency crises. In the period 1971-97, after liberalisation, they had 17 banking crises and 57 currency crises.

Some claim South Korea's growth proves the free market's virtues. Its income per head multiplied by 14 between 1963 and 2007; it took the USA 150 years to do this. Yet South Korea's government nurtured new industries through tariff protection and subsidies; it discriminated against foreign investors; and, since it owned the banks, it directed credit into promising firms. The resulting improved industrial production, not the market, was the key to its development.

The policies that the USA used to develop its economy are what we all need now to beat the slump: to direct investment into strategic industries, impose selective protective tariffs and import bans, provide prizes and patents for inventions, impose export bans on key industrial inputs, allow tariff rebates on imports of key industrial inputs, regulate product standards, develop transport infrastructure (especially railways), subsidise innovations, control foreign investment, relax intellectual property rights, adopt good technologies from abroad, impose local content requirements, and insist that foreign investors transfer their technologies.

Chang sums up, "History has repeatedly shown that the single most important thing that distinguishes rich countries from poor ones is basically their higher capabilities in manufacturing, where productivity is generally higher, and, more importantly, where productivity tends to (although does not always) grow faster than in agriculture or services."
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on 10 November 2010
I have recently become a fan of Prof Chang after reading "23 Things etc" so I immediately downloaded "Bad Samaritans" to find, on the Kindle version the Contents section and Prologue were missing.This didn't bother me too much but I then found that the references within the chapters were not linked to the comments at the rear of the book. The last straw was that the index at the back of the book does not refer back to the entry in the main body of the book. I have cancelled the Kindle version and bought the paperback.
I reported this to Amazon who just referred me to the publisher.( I gave up trying to track them down )
My feelings are that Amazon should take a more active interest in the digital formatting of these eBooks.
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on 22 September 2015
While I have a lot of sympathy for the argument Ha-Joon Chang is trying to make, one cannot get away from the fact that he's making it terribly. The argument itself might not be wrong, but the justifications given for it vary from appeal to authority (while the book equally dishes traditional sources of authority, without justifying why we should trust one set of experts but not the other) to emotional claims to moral outrage to reasoning that simply skips steps. Perhaps this is the result of an effort to make the book more appealing to a wider audience. The result, however, is a book that I would give to my undergraduate students only to make them understand how not to back their claims.
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on 8 November 2010
Chang critiques the prevalent economic orthodoxy - the Washington Consensus, if you will - and systematically argues against its wholesale implementation in developing economies. Using examples such as infant industry protection in the US, he goes further by arguing that the very free-market de-regulated monetarist policies forced upon developing nations were rejected in favour of protectionist nationalism when today's rich nations were developing themselves.

A brilliantly-written polemic!
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on 15 January 2008
This book is epic! Shows the true history of globalisation and how the now developed countries used government protectionism, tariffs and subsidies to get rich.

The hypocrisy is unbelievable. Poor nations are now told by the IMF, World Bank and WTO that neo-liberal policies should be promoted and it's the only way thay will modernise.

Ofcourse as an economist, Chang doesnt realise that development does not always have to be economic development. Society can change for the better by means of social, cultural, and econimic equality. Is the society we live in all that perfect? Do we want poorer countries to "westernise", become increasingly materialistic and serve their their time in representative democracies? These questions need to be raised, debate concerning moving towards a participatory democracy where people have a say in how their lives are run, not just voting every few years.

For what he set out to achieve though, he did it with excellent efficiency.
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on 23 November 2010
This is, hands down, one of the best books I've ever read. Drawing on an impressive range of historical works and observations, Chang gives a balanced view of present economic woes and describes the best ways of combatting these. He also provides a well-written account of the relationship between economics and culture that should be a must-read for students and policy-makers alike. Read it or give it as a present, it is simply exhilarating.
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on 22 April 2016
Development economist challenges the neoliberal consensus and shows the invisible hand of the market isn't all it's cracked up to be. Very good.
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on 18 February 2015
Superb book, from what seems to be a rare breed, an economist with integrity and proper respect for empirical truths. A must read for me.
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on 20 April 2015
Up toHa-Joon Chang's usual standard of writing. He demolishes the accepted establishment myths with clear examples.
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