Ha Joon Chang: Wrong on Free Trade, Markets and Development

My first post on 23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism addressed Ha Joon Chang’s dubious debating tactics when discussing ‘free market economics’. I turn now to some of Chang’s more specific critiques of economic liberalism to illustrate these tactics in greater detail.

Summarising his work in Kicking Away the Ladder and Bad Samaritans Chang tries to debunk the claim that free trade and open markets are the key to prosperity in developing countries. He claims that historically free trade was rarely if ever practiced by developed nations such as Britain and the USA. To the extent that they prescribe free trade for today’s developing nations, therefore, free market economists and their political supporters are guilty of a ‘do as I say, not as I did’ hypocrisy. What the developing world needs is the freedom to pursue the protectionist industrial policies that Chang himself favours. The economic success stories of East Asia owe their prosperity to high levels of state intervention and not to ‘neo-liberalism’.

Read the article on the Pileus website.

Mark Pennington is the author of Robust Political Economy: Classical Liberalism and the Future of Public Policy

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