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23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism

3.96 of 5 stars 3.96  ·  rating details  ·  3,487 ratings  ·  400 reviews
Ha-Joon Chang dispels the myths & prejudices that have come to dominate our understanding of how the world works. He succeeds in both setting the historical record straight & persuading us of the consequences of his analysis.
Hardcover, 286 pages
Published April 14th 2011 by Allen Lane (first published 2010)
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At first I turned my nose up at this book. I couldn't imagine that it would have anything interesting to say to me. Indeed but for the personal recommendation of the author I would have passed over this book altogether. Well, I say personal recommendation but what I mean is that I listened to this podcast in which Ha-Joon Chang talks through three of the twenty-three things that he discusses in this book. Anyhow the author's presentation convinced me and I seized a copy of the whole book at the ...more
Brilliantly simple yet effective fare which a wide variety on the political compass can digest.

Admittedly not revolutionary. Pure reformist stuff. But makes very important observations on how destructive free-market economics are and have been. One doesn't have to agree with Chang's argument that capitalism itself is not necessarily a bad thing to appreciate his well-founded critisms of the free market.

It debunks the very possibility of the existence of a a free market, it elaborates why owner
"23 Things" (for short) purports to be a rebuttal of commonly held views about the free market, capitalism and the science and profession of economics. Chang's position is pro government action and intervention (left wing, if you will), and he seeks to back it up with evidence and arguments.

I find it rather disappointing. It often addresses straw men and commonly held misconceptions about how economists think (rather than how economists actually think), and often fails to present opposing argume
This is a book that systematically takes apart neoliberal economic assumptions – the ‘things’ here are all nicely summed up in an opening paragraph per chapter where they are stated in the standard, unforgiving terms of neoliberal ideology. This is a book that really does deserve to be read. This guy is so clear he is a joy to read. Not only that, he also opens up the possibility of understanding what is far too often presented as only available to the expert and in impenetrable jargon. You actu ...more
Plain talk about capitalism - from a Cambridge economist who believes in it, but not in the free market ideology which has surrounded it for the last thirty years. Required reading for anyone who wants a grip on what's actually going on with the global economy, and anyone who likes to kid themselves they vote rationally...
Barry Pierce
This is a really accessible book on economics and capitalism. It may not sound like the most fun book to read but Chang actually writes this for the "common person" to use somewhat problematic phrase. He uses many references to pop culture and film in order to get his points across as easily as he can. This also contains a good history of economics and mentions many famous economists (Adam Smith, Milton Friedman, John Maynard Keynes, and the such) which is interesting if you are new to economics ...more
Connie  Kuntz
This book is a very convincing argument about how utterly bogus the notions of free market and free trade actually are. You can find a quote in every chapter regarding this point. My favorite is found on page 73:

"The free trade, free-market policies that have rarely, if ever, worked. Most of the rich countries did not uses such policies when they were developing countries themselves, while these policies have slowed down growth and increased income inequality in the developing countries in the
Aaron Jordan
I am a free-market advocate and read this book to examine opposing arguments. I tried to be open-minded, but ultimately found most of the arguments in this book unpersuasive. He makes a few good points, but he also sets up many straw men to tear down positions that nobody holds, and he imbues many of his arguments with abstract plausibilites rather than with logic and empirical evidence. Some of his arguments border on the absurd, such as his claim that the welfare state facilitates economic gro ...more
Tank Green
Oct 24, 2010 Tank Green rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone!
i was going to give this 4 stars at first b/c i think he's often overly and unnecessarily simplistic to the point that i sometimes got confused over his target audience. also, some of his examples are weak which is frustrating b/c his arguments are not; he could have chosen better examples is all.

however, things 16 and 23 are absolutely brilliant and he goes straight for the jugular: they made me happy! things 9 and 17 are also pretty damn good.

i don't think anything he says is particularly reve
This is a great book on economics, the free market, and trade policy. Everything is explained in a very understandable way without getting the reader lost in too many details or obscure terms that only an economics expert would understand. It dispels a lot of myths about how the free-market is good for the economy of the country where it is practiced. It describes in detail about how the free-market ideology has destroyed or stagnated the economies of countries in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin Am ...more
Christopher Rex
This book would make an excellent companion to any economics class. It is better as a "discussion starter" and/or "debate" type of hypothesis than a standard economical study. That within itself is the book's greatest strength and weakness. Many of the arguments put forth here are not backed up w/ methodical statistical studies and data - that's obviously a good thing for the "casual" reader, like myself. The problem is, that without widespread and detailed case-studies it opens itself up to cri ...more
I consider this a must-read for anyone like me, who does not have an economics background and has become accustomed to the misleading free market rhetoric. It was refreshing to have some of the principles of my own thoughts on the economy reinforced by a prize-winning economist, as well as to hear other more complicated principles developed by Ha-Joon Chang that challenge the current orthodoxy. The book is incredibly straightforward and easy to read, in a conversational voice I would almost call ...more
"23 Things They Don't Tell you About Capitalism" is basically a 'pop' version of Ha-Joon Chang's previous work, Bad Samaritans. This book seems to be intended to be very easy to read -which is good to some extent- but unfortunately it has made the discussion a bit too oversimplified.

Ha-Joon Chang starts every chapter with a brief explanation on 'myths' he claimed put forward by the capitalists and free market advocates. I, however, found that some of the 'myths' he mentions in the book are not
Adam Higgitt
This is a book that could only have been published in 2010. A confluence between the style of Freakonomics and an appetite for tracts like The Spirit Level it may be, but the timing of Ha-Joo Chang’s book is important for another reason. It isa reappraisal of economicorthodoxyonly possible once appropriate distance has been gained from the manifest failure of that orthodoxy.

23 Things The Don’t Tell You About Capitalism takes the sacred cows of free market economics one-by-one and calmly slaughte
Ahhh, the free market. Living in Greece and having witnessed our financial crisis first hand, are experiences which seem to make this book's content rather obsolete *. However, Ha-Joon Chang is such a charismatic economist that turned the tables for me. He can quote Marx and Hayek next to one another. He can present some mind-blowing and lucid arguments to support his views. The best thing about him though, is that he studies history and institutions to understand why and how economic systems de ...more
One of the best critiques of free market capitalism I have read!

Narrated by Joe Barrett

8 hrs and 58 mins

Publisher's Summary

Thing 1: There is no such thing as the free market.
Thing 4: The washing machine has changed the world more than the Internet.
Thing 5: Assume the worst about people, and you get the worst.
Thing 13: Making rich people richer doesn't make the rest of us richer.

If you've wondered how we did not see the economic collapse coming, Ha-Joon Chang knows the answer: We didn't ask what
A brilliant and accessible critique of free market economics in the last three decades. The simple layout and non-use of jargon makes it easy to follow and understand from the start. Recommended to anyone wishing to understand the world economy.
This book is an amazing and enlightening work that every world citizen ought to read. It succinctly breaks down what is wrong with our global economic market in terms that any non-economist can understand. It throws new (to most of us) and important light on the flaws of conventional “wisdom” about free-market capitalism and how those policies over the past 30 years have created the systems and incentives for ongoing economic crises during that time (including our current one). But Chang is not ...more
In the 1960s, South Korea, then a military dictatorship, wanted to be self-sufficient in steel. It founded a steel company with the government as the major shareholder, an ocean away from the nearest deposits of iron ore and coking coal (there was then no trade between Communist China and anti-Communist South Korea), headed by a retired general who knew nothing about steel, using Japanese reparation payments as capital. This project was thought of by most investors as insane. The company is now ...more
Al Bità
This is a superb analysis of Capitalism at a time when Capitalism needs all the help it can get.

The book consists of 23 things they DO tell us about Capitalism, and these are summarised in a paragraph at the beginning of each Chapter of the book. What is fascinating is that each of these paragraphs read very familiarly indeed: they are exactly spot on as concepts most readers will have heard, and possibly even agreed with regarding this subject. The rest of each Chapter then proceeds to discuss
It was okay, I liked it enough. This wasn't an anti-capitalism book, but an anti-free market capitalism book. That's not a knock on the book, it's just a clarification of its intent.

Written clearly, the book tackles some of the prevailing assumptions of the neo-liberal orthodoxy that has dominated economic thinking of the last 30 years much to the detriment of people everywhere. Most of the book is spent debunking the Reaganite/Thatcherite school of thought, and argues for a different form of c
Alastair Crawford
Cleverly simple. The perfect anti-neo liberal text. Don't think inflation needs to be as low as 2%? Like to see it at 4-6% and economic growth above 2%? This book will explain why Key and Brash and co. will never allow it. A good follow on to Ralston Saul's re-reading of Adam Smith, explaining how the far-right have misread and hijacked a small part of Smith's general economic theory, (the invisible hand metaphor) and why it doesn't fit 21st Century international corporate commerce as well as it ...more
„Czego ci nie powiedzą

Dobrzy ekonomiści nie są niezbędni do prowadzenia dobrej polityki gospodarczej. Urzędnicy zajmujący się gospodarką, którzy odnieśli największe sukcesy, zazwyczaj nie byli ekonomistami. Podczas „cudownych lat” japońską i(w mniejszym stopniu) koreańską polityką gospodarczą kierowali prawnicy. Na Tajwanie iw Chinach autorami bardzo skutecznych polityk gospodarczych byli inżynierowie.”

Czas obudzić się z mylnych wyobrażeń o ekonomii wolnorynkowej. Czas zaprząc rozum w ocenę zjaw
Judyta Szaciłło
Four stars only, because it is not a flawless book: arguments are at times illustrated by a biased choice of data. Despite this lacking, the Author remains convincing in his analysis of certain crucial issues of modern economics:

- The deregulation of the financial sector has led to its unsustainable growth, and created a huge gap between the financial markets and the underlying economy - the gap that has caused the collapse in 2008.
- Wealth doesn't trickle down when its accumulation is left un
Sarah Walsh
Essential. As are most books I'm reading of late. Possibly my aerial is plugged in along with my surfaced desire to understand the gagged truth that sits firmly behind the veil of present-day myth, and repeated societal illusion. Ha-Joon Chang wrote in The Guardian as soon as recently and alerted us, we're heading toward another Bubble. With the Bubble delicately moved to the side, it appears we are STILL being rammed up our jacksies with surface lies and deep, pestilent FRAUD. Only a stupid soc ...more
Ahmed Salem
الكتاب بسيط و صادم

أسرد هنا فقط بعض النقاط التي استرعت انتباهي لأتذكرها لاحقا

- لا يوجد اقتصاد حر مطلق، هناك اقتصاد مقيد بقوانين و قواعد يصنعها السياسيون

- سياسة جعل الأغنياء أكثر غناءا لا تضمن بالضرورة نشاط اقتصادي أكثر يعود بالنفع على المواطنين الأقل حظا فيصبحوا أكثر غناءا بالمقارنة

- الانترنت و غسالة الملابس قاموا بتغيير الحياة البشرية الى الأفضل كل بنسبة متفاوتة. الا ان الغسالة و معظم الأدوات المنزلية ساعدت البشرية على ترقية الحياة بشكل أفضل بكثير مما فعلت الانترنت

- السياسات النقدية القادمة من ا
Right off the bat you should know that this is not an anti-capitlist book, despite of its title. That may be a positive or a negative factor, depending on the reader, but that is beside the point. The book is decidedly very much against what is unfortunately the predominant model of capitalism in the world today: "free-market" capitalism. Whether you agree or not with the author's vision for what the world economy should be like is not that important, as that is not the focus of this book. It is ...more
Nikolaos Korasidis
For an inquiring mind, this book is enough to begin questioning widely-received ideas about capitalism, development, statism, liberal markets etc. The book's organization into small chapters means it is easy to assimilate, discuss and debate its contents. It is written in clear prose, sports a wealth of historical trivia (some of which are not trivia after all), and repeats itself with moderation.

The argumentation is quite convincing, though at varying degrees; some "things" are impeccably artic
Chungsoo Lee
This provocative book written by a Cambridge economist, Ha-Joon Chang, successfully debunks many of common assumptions about capitalism mostly held by Republicans nowadays in the US. He argues with overwhelming evidence such facts which go against the common assumptions: 1) Free market system is the cause of meager growth of US economy since 80's and in the developing countries since 60's, including Africa. 2) The countries that entered the free trade agreement with US ended up being worse off t ...more
Todd Martin
The rationale used to defend free market ideology has always felt skeevy to me. Just look at one basic tenet – the behavioral assumption of consumer theory that all consumers are rational decision makers who seek to maximize utility. “Rational decision makers” is a wildly absurd phrase when used to describe our species. To assume that people suddenly become rational in the one area of economic decision making is equally ridiculous (as is now being borne out by scientific studies).

In simple and
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Goodreads Librari...: Incorrect publication date 3 16 Sep 20, 2014 09:32AM  
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Ha-Joon Chang teaches economics at Cambridge University. His book 23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism was a no.1 bestseller and was called by the Observer 'a witty and timely debunking of some of the biggest myths surrounding the global economy.' He is a popular columnist at the Guardian, and a vocal critic of the failures of our economic system.
More about Ha-Joon Chang...
Bad Samaritans: The Myth of Free Trade and the Secret History of Capitalism Economics: The User's Guide Kicking Away the Ladder: Development Strategy in Historical Perspective Reclaiming Development: An Economic Policy Handbook for Activists and Policymakers The East Asian Development Experience: The Miracle, the Crisis and the Future

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“Once you realize that trickle-down economics does not work, you will see the excessive tax cuts for the rich as what they are -- a simple upward redistribution of income, rather than a way to make all of us richer, as we were told.” 63 likes
“Equality of opportunity is not enough. Unless we create an environment where everyone is guaranteed some minimum capabilities through some guarantee of minimum income, education, and healthcare, we cannot say that we have fair competition. When some people have to run a 100 metre race with sandbags on their legs, the fact that no one is allowed to have a head start does not make the race fair. Equality of opportunity is absolutely necessary but not sufficient in building a genuinely fair and efficient society.” 56 likes
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