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James R. Maclean
- Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
This book is an exceptionally lucid history of development policy in the major economies of East Asia. There is particular focus on the economies of South Korea, Malaysia, and the Philippines, but Studwell addresses other nations as well.
Understandably, development policy is an explosively controversial topic, and readers will be divided by prejudice on this matter. For decades, "the Washington Consensus" (WC) has been pushed onto less developed countries (LDCs) as an unworkable combination of "free trade," currency convertibility, and "stable exchange rates" (1). At the same time, building up a strong farming sector plays a far greater role in the Asian success stories than "liberalization" of FDI.
Readers may be astonished to see how much attention Studwell pays to farming policy in the history of Asian development, seeing as how the prominent successes for countries like Japan, South Korea, and China have been in manufacturing. But sustaining the needs of the population and allowing them to save is a paramount step for any metric of economic success. For instance, when countries are developing, a failed agricultural policy (and concomitant food imports) can suck up foreign capital required for capital projects. Als, as in the case of the Philippines, failures to implement land reform can result in a powerful landed aristocracy upon which the national leadership is completely dependent (2).
After addressing farm policy, he moves on to the challenge of industrial development. He points out that "liberal" trade policy is incontrovertibly unsuited to industrial development(3), but also that competition and export discipline are crucial ingredients of success. Hence, the success of South Korea's industrialization, with massive redundancy of industrial output (multiple car makers, for example, where only one would be ultimately successful), as opposed to Malaysia's doomed reliance on a single national champion. Korea, Japan, and China would also impose rigorous obligations to export on their domestic producers.
Chapter three addresses the role of finance in successful development policy. Studwell's careful marshaling of the evidence suggests that there is really nothing to be gained from a liberal, lightly-regulated financial sector. Liberalized financial sectors are prone to massive swings in asset valuations, as occurred in Thailand in 1997. Indeed, the crisis hit South Korea in large measure because that country had moved to curb the power of the _chaebols_ by concentrating financial power in capital markets and NBFIs (4).
The Korean financial system created systemic risk for the South Korean economy that had not existed before, but for South East Asian economies, the financial system has amounted to another colonial power, suppressing any possible means these countries might have had of taking control of their economic destinies.
The chapter on China is excellent, although a bit short--most readers will feel it is suitably concise, without any damaging shortcuts. I feel there is some shortchanging of environmental issues (although it's not clear that neoliberalism is any better for air quality!), and the risks the Asian economies pose to each other: China's rise, for example, has posed extreme challenges to budding signs of life in the industrial economies of "other" Asia, not to mention Latin America. However, this book is a brilliant piece of work, with exceptionally thorough documentation and excellent writing.
UPDATE (25 December 2013): After writing this review, I noticed a passage in Stuckler & Basu, The Body Economic: Why Austerity Kills (2013) on the response of various East Asian nations to the Asian Currency Crisis (1997). While the Government of Malaysia gets low marks by Studwell for its management of economic development, it gets high marks from Stuckler & Basu for its management of health services during the crisis.
When the crisis hit, Malaysian PM Mahathir Mohamad rejected IMF "assistance" because of the conditions imposed (B&S, pp.45-47); these conditions included massive budget cuts, so that the Asian economies would continue to run budget surpluses. The cuts invariably stimulated massive poverty, as intended by the IMF. Malaysia suffered the same dire collapse of GDP as its neighbors: 34%, compared to 30% in South Korea, 27% in Thailand, 56% in Indonesia, and so on. But Malaysia did not suffer a major increase in poverty, while South Korea's poverty rate doubled (11% in 1997 to 23% in 1998). Health care outcomes also worsened dramatically in countries following IMF conditions.
None of which is meant to detract from Studwell's book, but I feel this certainly does give a more comprehensive picture of the situation.
(1) For a summary of the ten points of the Washington Consensus (WC), see Wing Thye Woo, "Serious Inadequacies of the Washington Consensus: Misunderstanding the Poor by the Brightest" pp.9-43 in Jan Joost Teunissen & Age Akkerman (editors),Diversity in Development : Reconsidering the Washington Consensus, FONDAD, The Hague, (2004). One crucial aspect of development economists in Western countries is their occupational need to constantly rewrite history, so as to divorce themselves from policy recommendations that turned out badly. The WC is especially convenient in this regard because it includes a combination of policies that can never be implemented concurrently, so the World Bank/IMF can always claim their policies were never implemented correctly.
Specifically, it is impossible to have (a) "liberal" (i.e., "market-determined") interest rates, (b) a "competitive" exchange rate, (c) "liberal" trade, and (d) "liberal" inflows of direct foreign investment--all at the same time. For one thing, (a), (c), and (d) preclude any control over the exchange rate.
(2) The go-to example of failure in this regard is the Philippines, which had the educational achievement necessary for developmental "take-off," but also a class dictatorship in the truest sense of the word--by the latifundias. Studwell hints rather strongly that this was a factor in the failures of Malaysia and Thailand as well.
(3) Ha-Joon Chang and many others have long made the case, in the face of massive bad-faith challenges, that all industrial countries became so under conditions of massively protected infant industries. See, for instance, Bad Samaritans: The Myth of Free Trade and the Secret History of Capitalism, The East Asian Development Experience: The Miracle, the Crisis and the Future, and many others. See also Alice Amsden, Escape from Empire: The Developing World's Journey through Heaven and Hell (et alibi). For detailed accounts of European development, see Alfred D. Chandler, Scale and Scope: The Dynamics of Industrial Capitalism, and so on.
(4) As Studwell sagely observes, the adoption of neoliberal economic policies are often (usually) stimulated by real problems and ceiling effects of the prior regime. In Korea, the _chaebol_ naturally resisted state projects for development and sought more lucrative outlets in fields such as real estate. The government of Chun Doo Hwan responded by building up capital markets and non-bank financial institutions (NBFIs). Capital markets, in practice, means investment banks, stock markets, etc. This scheme backfired because the Korean _chaebol_ won control over many of the NBFI. See Studwell, pp.183-184.