Things Are Seldom What They Seem

The worldwide economic meltdown has upended many long-held beliefs about how economics and finance really work.  Since 2008, a wide assortment of authors has started to question the standard explanations that the economics gurus have been offering us about globalization, free trade, and free markets.  The growing controversy is hardly surprising.  America’s recession and economic decline is the most serious economic crisis since the Great Depression—and its direct effects are likely to last for most of this decade.  Few, if any, recognized economists had any idea that a world financial crisis and economic implosion was imminent.  Many writers now are warning of a euro meltdown; others believe a second U.S. recession is lurking like Banquo’s ghost, ready to emerge at just the wrong time.

Cambridge economist Ha-Joon Chang is a professor who maintains that he provides much more truthful explanations for our present quandary in 23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism.

As the title might suggest, 23 Things is not written primarily for professionals with economics degrees but is more of a primer for the average reader.  The author explains that he aims to get past the jargon that often makes economics so opaque to nonexperts.  At times the book requires a leap of faith, and it can be short on details.  Yet,...

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