Uh-oh! The World ISN’T Flat!

Allow me to share some of my boring, sleepy-time viewing with you…

Meet Ha-Joon Chang, a Cambridge economics professor who turns Tom (aka “the moustache of wisdom”) Friedman’s now widespread orthodoxy about the miraculous panacea of globalization on its head.

If you can manage to get over Chang’s rather annoying idiomatic verbal tics and the awfully poor audio quality of this presentation, you may well be delighted by his sparkling wit, delightfully irreverent sense of humour and the scholarly insight that he employs to effortlessly dismantle the “conventional wisdom” of neo-liberal thinking when it comes to the issue of free trade and protectionism in particular.

The main thrust of Chang’s thesis as set out in his book Bad Samaritans: The Myth of Free Trade and the Secret History of Capitalism largely concerns itself with the iniquitous relationship between so-called first-world nations and developing countries, but it takes on a brilliant new relevance in light of the current economic crisis and the sudden resurgence of protectionism in America. After listening to this presentation, it made the World Economic Forum “debate” on this issue at Davos seem quite absurdly ridiculous (there’s a curious appearance by Howard Dean in the Q+A… no surprise however that his question about labour rights got blown off by the panel)

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4 Comments

Filed under Global Economy

4 responses to “Uh-oh! The World ISN’T Flat!

  1. Ti-Guy

    I watched the whole thing. He’s really funny.

    I can just imagine a few economists watching this and becoming incensed about how popularised this is: “How dare he not use our arcane language and our mystifying ‘math’ to address economics?”

  2. sharonapple88

    Damn, the clip’s over an hour and I can only watch it on dial-up.

    Bad Samaritans is a fun read it’s refreshing to see another view when it comes to trade and the economy. At one point Chang argues that you probably don’t need great economist managing a country’s economy — just smart people. This makes sense considering that people will cling to their models, schools of thought, and various bits of cant to the bitter end (*cough* Alan Greenspan and the free market/no regulation school of thought *cough*).

  3. It’s strange to think that people actually thought Greenspan was brilliant… back in the day, when the economy was humming along of course. Nobody could understand a fraction of what any of his cryptic nonsense meant at the time — and didn’t care! Well, they should have, as it turns out. So yes, there’s much to be said for writing and speaking about the economy in terms people can actually understand.

    It would be nice to see more of Chang but there’s not much out there. I guess the anti-free trade message is a hard sell, although maybe a lot less so these days. This book is definitely on my reading “wish list” for the future.

  4. sharonapple88

    Galbraith was good at bringing economist ideas to the general public. Not many that even attempt to do this.

    It’s strange to think that people actually thought Greenspan was brilliant… back in the day, when the economy was humming along of course. Nobody could understand a fraction of what any of his cryptic nonsense meant at the time — and didn’t care! Well, they should have, as it turns out. So yes, there’s much to be said for writing and speaking about the economy in terms people can actually understand.

    Greenspan seemed to take the approach of finding evidence that shored up his personal beliefs (I guess we all do, but his were rather tragic to the economy). He “saved” the economy with bubbles, he was just smart enough to convince himself that it was something else. He also apparently loved Bernake’s computer simulations that “showed” that the fed had no place in popping bubbles.

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