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Fair Trade? Its Prospects as a Poverty Solution [Kindle Edition]

Victor Claar
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Fair Trade is an enormously popular idea in Christian and secular circles alike. Who, after all, could be against fairness? Victor V. Claar, however, raises significant economic and moral questions about both the logic and economic reasoning underlying the fair trade movement. In this monograph, Claar suggests that, for all its good intentions, fair trade may not be of particular service to the poor, especially in the developing world.

Product Details

  • File Size: 331 KB
  • Print Length: 65 pages
  • Publisher: Acton Institute (January 31, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007411ADE
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #987,699 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Helpful Economic Analysis of Fair Trade Coffee May 8, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
Twenty-three years ago I was in my first semester of the M.B.A. economic development program at Eastern University. I took a required class that exposed us to development theories and presented case studies on development efforts from around the world. It was a semester long immersion in futility. The class had its desired effect. I'm ever haunted by how easy it is to make things worse and how hard it is to foster sound economic development.

Today, many Christians motivated by concerns for compassion and justice are looking for ways to use their economic influence to help the poor. A very popular approach is to support fair trade goods. Fair trade coffee is probably one of the most popular examples. My own denomination (Presbyterian Church, U. S. A.) is deeply involved with Equal Exchange through the Presbyterian Coffee Exchange. The aims are noble and inspiring. But having developed a skeptical eye early on, I'm always compelled to ask if a strategy like this really works.

FT Recently my cyber-friend and economist at Henderson State University, Victor Claar, wrote a small book Fair Trade? Its Prospects as a Poverty Solution. Claar begins the book by presenting a brief overview of the development and the dynamics of the modern coffee industry. Two economic issues that feature heavily are the inelasticity of both supply and demand, and the low barriers to entering the coffee growing business. These two combine to create a volatile industry.

Next, Claar presents a brief history of the fair trade coffee movement and how it is intended to work. That is followed by a chapter that examines whether or not fair trade coffee can work as intended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars BOOK REVIEW August 2, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I wrote a review of Claar's monograph for my philosophy blog. It is reproduced below:

Fair trade is growing, and "conscious consumers" are taking notice. From San Francisco to Milwaukee to Amhurst, "fair trade settlements" are popping up around the U.S. Although its influence has been felt primarily in universities and urban areas, the fair trade movement has also garnered support from Christian denominations such as Presbyterian Church USA. In 2011 alone, Fair Trade USA collected 10.53 million dollars in revenue, and it looks like revenues will continue to grow. Many theories can be offered for the recent success of fair trade. As a jaded 22-year-old fresh out of undergrad, I'm much too quick to associate free trade with collegiate "hipsterism." Although fashion has undoubtedly had something to do with free trade's meteoric rise - there is a market for counter-culturalism, after all - it's both inaccurate and unfair to presume that free trade consumers are concerned primarily with social posturing. Despite everything that's wrong with my generation, I believe that my peers are doing one thing right: expressing sincere concern about world poverty. If this concern can be channeled into effective action, great things can happen. Of course, effective is the key word.

In his slim and highly readable monograph, Fair Trade? Its Prospects as a Poverty Solution, economist and former Fullbright Scholar Dr. Victor Claar assesses the effectiveness of fair trade. He examines a common argument for fair trade - one that looks something like this:

1) Many farmers and workers in the international community receive very low prices for foods and commodities and are forced to live on less than $2 a day.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quick Read, Must Read June 7, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
I read this book last summer not knowing much about fair trade coffee at all and found it very helpful in understanding the reality of this "trendy" chairty. I usually read with a pen so I can underline good points and I ended up underlining nearly the entire book! It's a quick read quick but very rich in material. Claar covers everything surrounding economic principles of the coffee market, the history of the fair trade movement, and the moral implications of supporting the fair trade movements.

Claar does a phenominal job explaining the unintended consequences of the fair trade movement. Though ecnomics can be a tough topic to tackle, Claar explains the coffee market in simple terms for those who may not be so demand-supply "inclined." He starts by outlining why coffee prices are so unpredictable which allows readers to understand the purpose of the fair trade movement, and then discusses the enormous problems fair trade ironically creates for the coffee market. Claar tackles the argument beautifully and makes such a sound argument it's hard to disagree with. This quick read is a MUST READ for anyone questioning the impact of fair trade on developing nations.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great Perspective June 29, 2014
By brian
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I picked this book up on a Kindle deal. I wasn’t sure how Victor was going to approach the subject. I was surprised and encouraged with his research and summary.

Fair trade is such a cliche these days. Americans feel proud when they drink a $5 coffee. Do they really think that $5 is helping some poor coffee farmer? If drinking $5 coffee is your way of helping the poor than you are sadly mistaken.

Victor does a good job explaining that the problem with poor coffee growers is that there are too many coffee growers. It’s supply and demand. There is too much supply in the world market. It is not that we are not being fair. It is that there are too many people trying to sell coffee beans. Cut down on the coffee beans and the price will go up.

This book is easy to read. It gets a little bogged down in the middle but you can get the main points without being an agriculture major. Before you pay another $5 for a fair cup to help the poor, read this book. You will probably be convinced to go across the street to the diner and pay $1.
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More About the Author

Victor V. Claar, Ph.D., is a professor of economics and teaches courses in economics to both undergraduate and graduate students. He recently was a Fulbright Scholar at the American University of Armenia--a landlocked country at the intersection of Turkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Iran--where he conducted research and gave lectures to graduate students.

Professor Claar has a long, impressive record of publications, including his influential book, Economics in Christian Perspective: Theory, Policy and Life Choices, now in its seventh printing and recently translated into Chinese. One reviewer said of the book's authors, "they demonstrate an impressive breadth of vision [and] deftly move from the big picture and macroeconomics to the care for the individual and restoring hope for the least of these."

While you may have heard that economics was once dubbed the "dismal science," Professor Claar's work demonstrates that this field is quite the opposite, especially when it does what Professor Claar does: combine sobering analysis and Christian principles to offer a vision of hope.

Professor Claar is also the author of Fair Trade? Its Prospects as a Poverty Solution, an incisive, thoughtful work that challenges us all to rethink how we buy what we need and want.

He resides in Hot Springs, Arkansas.


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