Thursday, February 28, 2008

Response to comment

James at The Grand Narrative posted a comment. I went to comment on his site but I object to his pictures so I will respond here. Sadly, I won't be in Busan so there can be no beer drinking opportunities. Perhaps my objection to the pictures changed your mind on the offer anyway.

I have not finished Bad Samaritans yet but I am enjoying it very much. While I'm sure proponents of free trade can argue some of the points he does make, he expresses himself well, makes good arguments and the book is very readable. I personally agree with much of what he says but not 100%. I read the post that you had made with the Economist review and I think they missed his argument (or misconstrued it?) in some instances. For example, he does not deny that some bad economic episodes happened during the period of protectionism (ie: during world war I and II) but he does show well that good things DID happen during periods of protectionism and bad things DID happen in times of free trade. Thereby making a very relevant argument that international financial institutions (the Bad Samaritans) should not be adopting a 'protection bad; free trade good' view of the world and forcing it on countries where that strategy is clearly not making helping long-term economic development.

I heard Chang Ha-Joon speak at Chatham House a few months ago and heard a little of his 'lets not bag protectionism' talk. He is not the only Korean (or Westerner for that matter) who has pointed out the role of protectionism and government intervention in Korea's economic success and I think it is good to be reminded of it.

Currently reading:

"Hell" by Yasutaka Tsutsui