- Series: New Forum Books
- Paperback: 168 pages
- Publisher: Princeton University Press; 49771st edition (April 25, 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0691117829
- ISBN-13: 978-0691117829
- Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.4 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 10 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,035,077 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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From Subsistence to Exchange and Other Essays (New Forum Books) 49771st Edition
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"For half a century, Peter Bauer has been a towering iconoclast among development economists, consistently unafraid to demolish conventional wisdom with penetrating insight. . . . [T]his excellent collection of essays. . . [is] a wonderful introduction to a mind that takes no prisoners."--The Economist
"Whether or not the reader agrees with [Bauer's] positions, they are carefully and thoughtfully argued. "--Foreign Affairs
"[Bauer] has also been interested in explaining the Zeitgeist which produced-and in many cases continues to project-the influential ideas and policies which are in such total disregard of readily observable reality. It is these reflections, contained in a number of essays in this book, which are likely to resonate with the general reader observing the contemporary world scene."--Deepak Lal, Times Literary Supplement
From the Inside Flap
"The essays here contain many of the key elements of Professor Bauer's thought, which I regard as an oasis of common sense in a desert of muddled thinking.... He goes after weak and self-serving explanations with commendable vigor."--Richard Epstein, University of Chicago--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top customer reviews
The heart of Lord Bauer's argument is to take issue with the widespread excuses that have been put forth to explain why certain countries seem unable to prosper. Writing in times when state planning was in its intellectual apogee, Lord Bauer offered an alternative where the role of the individual and the market were central.
From this basic outlook follow many attacks on the fallacies of development economics. Lord Bauer dismisses with great ease the assumption that countries are poor due to the lack of adequate resources: at some point, he writes, every country was poor; if infusion of capital was a necessary condition for growth, then the West would still be living in the Stone Age.
But Lord Bauer does not stop there. He takes on other issues such as foreign aid. Not only is foreign aid based on the false premise of the vicious cycle of poverty, but it also creates a mentality of dependence. Even worse, the result in the recipient countries is the emergence of powerful interests whose sole purpose is to obtain a bigger piece of the aid cake.
Why then do rich countries offer so much aid? The answer for Lord Bauer is simple: guilt. Western and African intelligentsia does what it can to cultivate the belief that Africa's evils are of European doing. No matter that the evidence for this claim is scant or non-existent. After all, Lord Bauer writes, Africans were poor before Europeans got there and remain poor for long after they have left.
In the end, the message is clear. The legacy of post-war development economics was to construct a distorted image of why some countries are rich and some poor. At the basis of the convolution was the desire to find excuses for the failure to grow economically. "From Subsistence to Exchange" is a collection of essays that have rescued us from this intellectual trap.
"From Subsistence to Exchange" is a great intro to Bauer's thought, with a tight collection of short essays /lectures spanning the range of his concerns, and a bibliography detailed enough to guide further reading. The preface by Amartya Sen gives a brief snapshot of the man and his place in development economics from one of the discipline's greatest living authorities. At 148 pages you get a feel for him quickly and can decide for yourself if he warrants further study.
The book is not as useful for those who know him already through his more detailed studies but for the newcomer this is simply a great place to start.
1. The "vicious cycle" theory of poverty is wrong.
2. Internal trade is crucial to development.
3. Economic development is not a matter of land and natural resources.
4. "Population Explosion" is a myth.
5. Foreign aid is neither necessary nor sufficient for economic development.
6. The sad story of India's experiments with central planning.
and my favorite:
7. Why egalitarianism is a bad idea.
This slim book is a joy to read. An added bonus: Lord Bauer's one liners.