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Kicking Away the Ladder: Development Strategy in Historical Perspective 1st Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1843310273
ISBN-10: 1843310279
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Editorial Reviews

Review

'The most important book about the world economy to be published in years.' —'Prospect'



‘Highly relevant to today’s debates about the role of policies and institutions in development as well as the role of government in general… It is a great contribution, not least for its historical approach, and will continue to influence the debate on development.’ —Seb Bytyçi, ‘ID: International Dialogue, A Multidisciplinary Journal of World Affairs’



'This book is a joy: a fantastically useful teaching aid…a very necessary historical conscience in an age of amnesia.' —'The Business Economist'



'This is an intriguing book that raises important issues. Recommended.' —J. M. Nowakowski, Muskingum College, in ‘Choice’

Review

'A provocative critique of mainstream economists' sermons directed to developing countries… It demands attention.' —Charles Kindleberger, Emeritus Professor of Economics, MIT



'A scholarly tour-de-force… Essential reading for industrial policy-makers in the twenty-first century.' —Lance Taylor, Professor of Economics, New School University



'…A lively, knowledgeable and original contribution to international political economy.' —John Toye, Professor of Economics, University of Oxford



'…An original and immensely valuable contribution to current debates on development.' —Peter Evans, Professor of Sociology, University of California, Berkeley

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 196 pages
  • Publisher: Anthem Press; 1st edition (July 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1843310279
  • ISBN-13: 978-1843310273
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #33,273 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
According to Michael Lind's book review in Prospect (Jan 2002), this book is "the most important book about the world economy to be published in years." And the author received the 2003 Myrdal Award for this book, which is awarded annually to a great academic achievement in the field of development/institutional economics following the late Swedish economist's name Gunar Myrdal who was a Nobel Prize laureate.
Prof. Ha-Joon Chang of Cambridge argues in this book that developed countries used some measures for promoting their economy in their earlier days of development, which they are now blaming for making the economies of developing country worse and the world economic order unfree.
The author reverses this logic. According to his arguments, policy-suggestions from such arguments of developed countries are in fact making the economy in developing countries lag behind and its development impossible, and such a rule of game in the world economy now can be rather unfair to them because developing countries even are often punished due to their using of the very same methods which developed ones used in the past.
As a critique of neo-liberal market fundamentalism, this book is very iconoclastic because it gives readers a sophisticated understanding of the real history of industrial development as well as pleasure of reading an academically original and creative work. This book is above all analytical in terms of using the method of historical comparisons. Some comparisons may be too bold. But its creativity and integrity in organizing the research overcome the limits of bold comparison.
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Format: Paperback
Written more for an academic/professional/specialist audience than the general reader, Chang's short book is still accessible and full of information that is vital to our understanding of how the ideology of free trade has been created in order to reward developed nations at the expense of those trying to develop. The United States, Great Britain, Germany--essentially every country that has successfully industrialized--used tariffs, protections of infant industries, control of capital markets and other policies that poor countries are told they must not try or abandon if they are implementing them. The hammer has been the threat of losing funding from IMF or World Bank although the conditionalities of Structural Adjustment may be as harmful as the economic imbalances they are meant to address.

The ladder image is simple and brilliant. It was coined by Frederich List, a nineteenth century Germany economist, to describe how the already successful United Kingdom tried to impose free trade policies on nations that hadn't yet become industrial powers and is no less true today than it was in 1834.

Chang's historical approach is devastating to free trade apologists and propagandists who serve the dominant development ideology which keeps poor countries poor. His more popular book "Bad Samaritans" is based some of the research evident here.
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As an MBA student at a top 20 US program, I came across Chang's "Kicking Away the Ladder" by accident a year ago when looking for a fresh, unorthodox perspective to supplement what I was learning in my international economics course. After all, one cannot let schooling get in the way of one's education! This book did not disappoint. It made earning top marks (a solid "A") easier and more interesting in what is normally a dry, esoteric subject.

By "Kicking away the ladder," what Chang is arguing is that today's wealthy countries, like the US and UK, recommend and enforce a standard set of economic policies (like deregulation, free trade, patent/copyright protections) onto many poorer countries (in South America, sub-Sahara Africa) under the mistaken belief that these free market and free trade policies were how they (the US, UK, etc...) eventually matured into economic powerhouses. In other words, rich countries, through the IMF and World Bank, tell poorer countries "do as we preach, not as we actually did ourselves." Unfortunately, since the 1980s, these policies, often adopted as a precondition for trade agreements and aid during financial crises (i.e. 1997 East Asia) from wealthy nations, has brought about more social inequality and macroeconomic instability instead of the promised goal of sustained growth. Yet despite the failures, these policies are still preached and prescribed just the same, as an article of economic faith.

This book offers a refreshing antidote to this textbook orthodoxy by highlighting and analyzing the historical evidence of many wealthy and poorer countries in light of effects of current economic policy prescriptions (at least as of 2003).
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Format: Paperback
This is a book I intend to reread a year from now. I believe it has changed my perspective regarding international politics and developmental issues, so from now on I'll try and interpret facts through the perspective Chang provided. Meanwhile, I'll try and follow some of the bibliography he suggests to see if I can mitigate some of my doubts.

If you believe you're a neoliberal, this book is for you. It will challenge some of your most basic beliefs - and what could be better? You might be able to disagree with him entirely, but I'm sure that reading this book will sophisticate your thoughts in the matter and throw some doubts where there was none. Too bad this is not the best-seller it could have been.
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