A development economist poses a counterhistory of free trade
The Myth of Free Trade and the Secret History of Capitalism
by Ha-Joon Chang
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In the 1980s, as developing countries across the world struggled with crushing debt burdens and slow-growing economies, they were pushed—by the United States and international financial institutions—to embrace a set of policies that promised to rescue them. These policies, which are often grouped under the label neoliberalism, proceeded from the assumption that developing countries interfered too much with the workings of their markets. Instead, countries needed to lower tariffs and embrace free trade, privatize state-owned industries, end subsidies to businesses and consumers, balance their budgets, and be friendlier to foreign investment. If a country got its financial house in order and let the free market work its magic, in other words, it had a good chance of watching its economy boom.
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