MEETING HA-JOON CHANG, author of "23 THINGS THEY DON'T TELL YOU ABOUT CAPITALISM"
By Kevin Stoda, demanding better social, political, economic and financial education in the USA
As I came across a DN web interview with Ha-Joon Chang this past weekend, I recalled the aching question that has made a joke of the NOBEL PRIZE in ECONOMICS since its inception.
Namely, "Why don't any Asians win the Nobel prize when their economies have been empowering the globe for the past 4 to 5 decades?"
Surely, someone in or from Asia knows how to do something right, don't you agree?
Naturally, the reason why Asian economists have been slighted is that non-Asians had raised the money and promoted the new NOBEL Prize themselves several generations ago. Moreover, they were a mostly a pro-capitalists group of men living during the Cold War and fascist era of European and America history.
Iconoclast, Ha-Joon Chang illustrates in a series of publications, which also includes the work Bad Samaritans: The Myth of Free Trade and the Secret History of Capitalism , that free-markets have never existed and never is the market politically or socially free of influence.
FINALLY, A REAL ECONOMIST: HA-JOON CHANG
John Gray has written of Chang's most recent book, 23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism , " The world is awash with books that claim to explain the global financial meltdown. Not many are written by economists. Ignorant of history, including that of economics itself, most economists not only failed to forecast the crash but, mesmerised by the spurious harmonies of their mathematical models, were blind to the mounting instability of the financial system and failed to grasp that an upheaval of the kind that is currently under way was even possible. After an intellectual failure on this scale, what could economists have to say today that would be of any interest to anyone?"
Unlike many other economists and political-economists over recent decade who have washed their hands of any responsibility in the world economy due to their opinions and interpretations of the market, Chang writes: "Economists are not some innocent technicians who did a decent job within the narrow confines of their expertise until they were collectively wrong-footed by a once-in-a-century disaster that no one could have predicted." Far from being an inward-looking, hermetic discipline, economics has been a hugely powerful and profitable enterprise, shaping the policies of governments and companies throughout much of the world. The results have been little short of disastrous. As Chang puts it: "Economics, as it has been practised in the last three decades, has been positively harmful for most people.'"
This is the sort of realism that economics and capitalism has been lacking in recent decades. Chang lets us admit, for example, that every economy on the planet is still planned in one-way-or-another. "In his 2008 book, Bad Samaritans: The Myth of Free Trade and the Secret History of Capitalism , Chang . . . , a specialist in the political economy of development mocked one of the central orthodoxies of his profession: the belief that global free trade raises living standards everywhere."