23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 26 September, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 26 September, 2010, 12:00am

23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism
by Ha-joon Chang
Allen Lane, HK$255

Ha-joon Chang may attack free-market ideology but that's not the same as being against capitalism. It is still the best economic system invented, he says, although the version that has dominated the world in the past three decades, free-market capitalism, can and should be improved. The Cambridge economist expands on some topics broached in his 2008 book, Bad Samaritans (such as the benefits of protectionism in developing countries), but offers more iconoclastic arguments in 23 Things. Much will open your eyes or raise your eyebrows. He argues, among other things, that free-market policies don't make poor countries richer. Take Sub-Saharan Africa, which has seen zero growth or worse since their implementation in the 80s. Chang also shows how foreign direct investment can be harmful, why inflation can be a boon and the ways in which big government can aid enterprise. Much of the content is counter-intuitive but that doesn't mean it's wrong. His book will be remembered for his point that the washing machine has changed the world more than has the internet because it allowed women to work outside the home.