An introduction to Ha-Joon Chang’s Kicking Away The Ladder

A short animation which nicely summarises the main argument of Ha Joon Chang‘s prize-winning book on the history of development strategies Kicking Away The Ladder.


Mark Blyth on Bernie and Scandinavian welfare

Another clip from the engaging Professor Mark Blyth. Here he shares his thoughts on taxes, public spending and welfare in Scandinavia. He paints a positive picture, but admits that he wouldn’t want to live there and finds it ‘boring’, because ‘everything works!’

How did South Korea become so rich?

Here is a rather lively video introduction to South Korean development from VisualPolitik, describing how in the post-war period the political economy of the country encouraged rapid growth and transformation for many years. This enabled it to significantly catch up with the rich world’s economies. In the history of economic development, Korea has been a success story.

The video is partly wrong on the nature of trade policy: companies were encouraged to become successful exporters but there was at least temporary protection from selected imports at certain times.

It leaves out aspects such as the legacy of Japanese colonialism which bequeathed a particular political and social structure to the country. This certainly affected the path of development.

It also fails to mention the enlightened self-interest of the US, which provided aid and military support, as well as access to its markets, during the years of rapid growth. After all, they wanted to prevent the spread of communism and help create a successful capitalist South Korea. Continue reading

Thoughts on the state, capitalism and development

DSC00236The following telling quote is taken from the entry on ‘Capitalism and Development’ by John Sender and Jonathan Pincus in The Elgar Companion to Development Studies (2006): p.49.

“[A]nti-capitalists and their erstwhile neoliberal opponents in the multi-national organisations have much more in common than either would wish to admit. Both have, in their own way, failed to address the central role of states in the development of capitalism. While anti-capitalists see the state as a powerless pawn in a globalised system dominated by external actors, neoliberals view the state as an obstacle to what they see as the natural course of market-led growth that will flourish as long as states do not intervene in the functioning of perfect or near-perfect markets. But this is ahistorical in the extreme. Capitalism has spread by creating an increasing number of national economies and nation states. ‘When capitalism was born, the world was far from being a world of nation states. Today it is just that’ (Ellen Meiksins Wood). Since its initial emergence in the English countryside, capitalism has always required the nation state to create social, political and economic conditions favourable to accumulation. Concerted state action to establish and protect property rights, create national markets, support capitalists’ efforts to penetrate external markets, and to train and discipline labour is as much a feature of contemporary capitalist development as it was in the nineteenth century.”

Michael Hudson on underdevelopment

Taken from Michael Hudson’s iconoclastic ‘dictionary’ J is for Junk Economics (p.237):

“Underdevelopment: A term coined by the economic historian and sociologist Andre Gunder Frank (1925-2005) to describe the policies by which Europe’s colonies and subsequent Third World countries have been turned into indebted raw-materials exporters instead of balanced economies capable of feeding themselves and remaining free of foreign debt and its associated loss of sovereignty. The term implies that they will follow the same pattern as “developed” economies. But they are misshapen, often supported by violent creditor oligarchies. This maldevelopment is euphemized by stages of growth theory suggesting that malstructured economies need simply “wait their turn” to develop in a healthy way. Locked into debt-dependency on the leading financial nations, they are forced to adopt neoliberal anti-labor policies and relinquish their public domains to rent-seeking monopolists. This is the opposite of the US- and European-style protectionist drive to ensure economic self-sufficiency in food and basic industry.”

Governance reform and development: a heterodox view – Part 2

Following yesterday’s post, here are the final two parts of the discussion on governance reform and development by Mushtaq Khan, Professor of economics at SOAS in London.

Governance reform and development: a heterodox view

Today and tomorrow, I will be posting a series of short videos discussing the relationship between governance and development. So-called ‘good governance’ covers such factors as support for the rule of law, anti-corruption and effective democracy, which I think most people would agree are desirable, but are usually missing in the poorest countries.

Professor Mushtaq Khan of SOAS discusses how, in contrast to the ‘good governance’ agenda of the World Bank, these desirable factors have historically been the outcome of successful development rather than its cause.

Instead of policymakers in poor countries trying in vain to achieve good governance, they should instead try to promote developmental governance, which would enable their economies to successfully grow and develop and to some extent ‘catch up’ with their richer neighbours. This would then create the conditions for good governance to be more easily promoted and sustained. Continue reading