Ha Joon Chang sThings 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 marketGlobalization isn t making the world richerWe don t live in a digital world the washing machine has changed lives than the internetPoor countries are entrepreneurial than rich onesHigher 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 caring era of globalization Financial Times A must read incisive and entertaining New Statesman Books of the YearHa 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 theGunnar Myrdal Prize, and Bad Samaritans Rich Nations, Poor Policies and the Threat to the Developing World Since the beginning of theeconomic crisis, he has been a regular contributor to the Guardian, and a vocal critic of the failures of our economic system

15 thoughts on “23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism

  1. Chris H Chris H says:

    This is an interesting and provocative book which questions the received wisdom of the neoliberal free market policies proposed by Friedman and the Chicago School economists of the 1970s and first implemented on a large scale by Regan and Thatcher in other words, it questions the ideas underpinning mainstream economic thinking in the UK and the US governments and their associated economic institutions since the early 1980s As such, it is not seeking to offer an alternative to capitalism as Chang says on the third page of his introduction, the book is not an anti capitalist manifesto Being critical of free market ideology is not the same as being anti capitalist Despite its problems and limitations, I believe that capitalism is still the best economic system that humanity has invented Instead, the book describes the limitations of free market approaches, detailing how such policies largely fail to deliver what their proponents suggest they should and emphasising the continuing importance of government planning and regulation Chang does this in an entertainingly anecdotal fashion in which he takes each of his things , describes how those who believe in free markets think they work, explains how he thinks they work and then uses some carefully chosen examples as a way to illustrate his views.A couple of examples illustrate the tone of his arguments.In Thing Five Assume the worst about people and you get the worst Chang takes on the assumption implicit in Adam Smith s free hand of the market that economic progress is driven exclusively by self interest the very bedrock of free market principles Instead, he suggests, a fair proportion of people s behaviour is almost altruistic most people, for example, work hard even if there is no one to check up on them and most people don t cheat their customers even when they could get away with it Many good economic systems, he suggests, do better by making use of people s disinterested and unrewarded input rather than when they assume that people will always be motivated by self interest alone.In Thing Twelve Governments can pick winners Chang takes on the free market mantra that capitalism works best when people are able to take on enterprises without government interference a belief which is, as Chan demonstrates, at odds with the economic history of every wealthy country Reading this chapter, I couldn t help but think of Canary Wharf the most potent symbol of successful capitalist enterprise in the UK in the last fifty years and reflect that it wouldn t have got off the ground without the UK Government creating the London Docklands Development Corporation, granting the Isle of Dogs Urban Enterprise Zone status and funding infrastructure investment in the DLR and the Jubilee Line.So, overall, then, well worth a read an ideal book, perhaps, for an A Level economics student And, by way of a related postscript, I have a teaching colleague who demonstrates principles of market failure and inequality to his A Level economics students by starting them on a game of Monopoly and then, once the game is underway, he deregulates the game by introducing massive cash hand outs and free houses, hotels and properties to some of the players The results are often hilarious and, typically, lead to civil disobedience, crime and violence as those who lose out protest, steal from the bank and even upset the board The exercise illustrates beautifully how free booting, unregulated capitalism can create rather than solve problems Chang would, I m sure, approve.

  2. markss markss says:

    Excellent.To summarise Ha Joon Chang, exposes the insincerities and double standards of the Washington Concenusus the economic dogma, in which it is asserted that free markets, liberalised trade and deregulation are simpatico with economic development What s often left out of the classical economic philosophy is the evidence to the contrary For example the USA is often held up as a paragon of free market efficiency and growth However it s early economic development see Land Of Promise economic history of the US was founded on three interlocking interventionist policies 1 High tariffs to protect their infant industries until they were efficient and productive enough to compete globally2 Noncompliance with foreign patents enabling their researchers, inventors and manufacturers to develope industries and companies without the additional costs associated with paying patentees for their discoveries.3 Large scale publicly funded infrastructure widening their domestic markets and enabling the development of an interconnected economy.These policies were in turn developed by observing the UKs policy of protecting infant industries with tariffs and only removing them once they were assured of the superiority of their products.Thus by analogy the western developed economies built in no small measure from the dirigiste policies of the past insisting that the less developed world open up to superior products is like a tennis pro insisting on a game with a novice whilst insisting it s fair.Great book, good read and free of irksome, self gratifying economic jargon.

  3. bart4books bart4books says:

    The I read of this the I think that economics is a belief system rather than a science Chang debunks just about everything to do with how things have been done for the last 25 years or so Makes you slightly miserable reading it, despite there being so much truth in it so I still haven t got to the end of it But well worth reading.

  4. Tim Robinson Tim Robinson says:

    I ve always been a believer in market economics, though I ve mellowed in my beliefs as I ve got a bit older I loved this book it s an easy read, yet it challenges conventional wisdom, suggesting that kinder understanding economic behaviours might not only be kinder, but also smarter if we can get over the short term focus so many of us have been brought up with from an early age.

  5. Jonathan Martin Jonathan Martin says:

    Very interesting book Well written, I like the way it is divided into the 23 chapters and within the chapters into the what they tell you etc sections to keep the message very clear.

  6. Ian Ingram Ian Ingram says:

    We ve started reading this for our Talk Socialism reading group set up by members of Labour Momentum but open to anyone in York It really is excellent Well argued, accessible and entertaining I can also recommend the audio book.

  7. R.Nanjappa R.Nanjappa says:

    As a student of economics for over 55 years, I know economics is not a science Economists are like doctors who can discuss endlessly, and theorise expertly, but cannot prescribe, and solve a problem Lord Keynes, the greatest of the modern economists, said that the theory of economics does not furnish us with readymade solutons, but only equips us with a mental frame which may enable us to draw correct conclusions He also advised the profession to be humble like the dentist.But in their hubris, economists pretend to possess a wisom they do not have, and make tall claims They apply old theories in new situations, and new theories for little understood problems and compound our troubles Again, as Keynes said, many politicians are devotees of discarded theories of long ago and catch them like the crocodile.Mainline economists in the sixties and seventies applied what they considered Keynesian solutions to a different situation, and brought on both stagnation and inflation, bringing bad name to Keynes In a reaction, Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan embraced an even older theory and applied it with renewed vigour And through their influence on the IMF, World Bank , promoted it as the ultimate wisdom and thrust it on the developing countries too, The whole wolrd is now engulfed in insurmountable economic difficulties the most glaring of which are the increase in thenumber of the poor, people and nations, increasing inequalilty in income and wealth, uncontrolled growth of financial institutions and derivatives resulting in financial scams, shrinking safety net against economic insecurities due to changes in policies or in the real world, etc.50 years ago, E.J Mishan of the London School of Economics drew our attention to 21 popular economic fallacies promoted by the establishment in the name of conventional wisdom, and pointed out the costs involved in growth which economists did not care to reckon Now, it is the turn of Ha Joon Chang from Cambridge to tell us what has been wrong with the Thatcher Reagan brand of economics, that has promoted inequality in the name of growth, perpetuated povery in the name of free market, and misery in the name of wealth In the process, people have lost their resort to welfare, and nations have lost their freedom to deal with their economic problems He has selected 23 specific issues and shows how the line adopted by the present economic establishment is faulty and illogical The arguments are sharp and explained with practical examples drawn from the real economic situation around the world.Some of the points are stunningly made He shows how the so called free market has been rescued time and again by government intervention how tax payers money has been used to rescue bungling financial institutions, though the scamsters have gone largely unpunished how economic growth does not depend upon the type of education hyped and promoted how the high remuneraton enjoyed by some in the rich countries is not due to higher productivity but due to restrictions on immigraton, how the current economic prescriptions have interefered with the growth of the developing countries, etc Above all else, he shows how economics as such does not provide neat solutions and it is necessary for the economists to choose appropriate policies and programmes to suit the situatons Indirectly, the book reveals the inherent limtations of the discipline of modern economics, and the dangers of theoretical extremism It is not that he is against capitalism as such , but against the particular form of it that has held sway since the late 80s It is risky, and fruitless, to leave the economy to the economists.This is one of the best and most interesting books I have read on current economic issues in a long time The arguments are nuanced and balanced, backed by illustrations from actual experience from around the world There is no jargon to confuse, and no theory or mathematics to confound This is a great help to appreciate the issues, and I have found it here,in Ha Joon Chang, after John Kenneth Galbraith, who too couldexplain economics without resort to maths, or theory This book is invigorating, like a cold shower at the end of a hot and humid day I have learned a lot from this book Thank you, Ha Joon Chang This book should not be missed by anyone interested in the economic welfare of nations.

  8. Ramesh Singh Ramesh Singh says:

    For me this is among the best books of Ha Joon Chang An interesting piece of work which explains whole lot of modern Economics through explaining Capitalism Rather a critique of capitalism the book helps one learn economics also.

  9. NinjaReader NinjaReader says:

    Chang demystifies lots of market fundamentalists tenets, which downplay the role of societal institutions and government in economic development.Markets are surely the engine of growth and prosperity but they need society and government, and society working through the government to raise educational levels, combat illiteracy, provide a safety net for the weak and protect private property and human rights.South Korea is nothing but a miracle With the strong and friendly hand of the United States, as well of their own government, the country abandoned rock bottom misery and entered the wealthiest nations club.Today South Korea displays high technology manufacturing and industry and also has become a open country, both in terms of economic and civil freedoms.

  10. JARoberts JARoberts says:

    I m an economist by training, and have spent a lot of time the past two three years working over deficiencies in the traditional market mechanisms incentives schemes theory This book does a good job of succinctly briefing readers on a wide variety of concepts from a few different angles I don t always agree that the argument made is the most sound option available, but at the very least the book offers reasonable perspectives Hopefully a book like this can become pervasive enough that we can actively challenge the detrimental economic norms that have been embraced for too long It s definitely a a good conversation starter, but leaves a bit to be desired in terms of backup for the work While the author does provide some very good sources, I think my only real critique would be that there aren t any embedded recommendations for neophytes who wish to deep dive into a particular topic That being said, overall a good read.

  11. faschue faschue says:

    True Mindful axioms to think about Capitalistic rules and economic wisdom are not set forever We should rethink common dogmas of our politic Leaders Thank you for this condensed wisdom.

  12. robert thompson robert thompson says:

    One of the best books I ve read about economics and just general knowledge that I ve read in years You might not agree with 100% of what he has to say but his arguments are very persuasive Well researched and well written Occasional anecdotes and humour add to the overall enjoyment Excellent book just get it already

  13. Peter Grogono Peter Grogono says:

    Chang explains economics better than almost anyone else He avoids the dogma of academic economics, in which the mathematical models are correct and real world events are unfortunate mistakes, and clarifies what actually happens and why I m sure he upsets some of his conservative colleagues, but I find him much convincing than them.

  14. biorganicenergy.co Customer biorganicenergy.co Customer says:

    A study in greater depth and acuity, than is found in books that are usually available in the public domain This book helps one develop a clearer view of the positive and negative aspects of Capitalism, which seems likely to form the economies of most countries for years to come, So Ha Joon Chang s book Things they Don t Tell You About Capitalism enables citizens and leaders to work toward enhancing the positive aspects of Capitalism, which hopefully will lead to healthy, prosperous societies.Rowland Marshall

  15. McG D McG D says:

    It is nice to find a book by an economist that agrees almost completely with my own views The book is clear and well organized, and easily understood by a non expert Two small points, one on the book construction, one on the content First, I found some bits a little repetitive, and the forward backward referencing to chapters on Things unnecessary at times Secondly and this occurred to me when following the discussion of Piketty s book also , after reading the book, it is no longer clear to me what Capitalism actually is, as it seems to cover a very broad spectrum of often opposing economic theories, some of which I would not previously have regarded as Capitalism Perhaps this is a result of reaching adulthood and bothering with such things around 1980 NB, I am not really capable of a serious analysis as I have wasted my life learning about science mathematics, not economics