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How China Became Capitalist [Copertina rigida]

Ronald Coase , Ning Wang

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28 di 29 persone hanno trovato utile la seguente recensione
5.0 su 5 stelle A Titan of Economics 22 maggio 2012
Di Rafael Limongi - Pubblicato su
Formato:Copertina rigida|Acquisto verificato
Few scholars have changed the face of economics like Ronald Coase. His work brought a very rare commodity to the economics profession - clarity. His observations, based on empirical evidence and "old-fashioned" fact-finding, have unearthed a body of work that has transformed the way we think about simple, but crucial, facts. The ways individuals and firms organize and his work on property rights had a profound impact on how we comprehend issues from the inner working of organizations to the use of market tools to address environmental problems. On the latter, his work provide the academic underpinning for the establishment of the Acid Rain program in the United States in the early 1990s, which was so successful that it virtually wiped out the problem of acid rain in America.
At a 101 and not a man to avoid challenges, he now braces himself on an issue that many in the West are puzzled by -"How China Became Capitalist". Again, he brings clarity to a confused picture. Without embracing dogmas from either left or right, he traces the history of Chinese reforms from the rise of Deng Xiaoping to the present. In Coase and co-author Ning Wang's recounting and interpretation, we learn about the unleashing of China's experiment with capitalism. Rather than a top-down approach as many believe, the Chinese government fostered competition between cities and provinces; allowed for experiments and pilots to take place in certain sectors, industries and regions. China after Mao had a blank slate from which to experiment. Throughout this, Coase's work on property rights was critical to many Chinese policy makers. It is no coincidence that alongside Marx and Friedman, Coase is one of the most revered Western economists in China.

Coase is the finest of scholars. The Nobel committee (belatedly) understood his contribution as a thought leader, not just a servant of mathematical tools and creator of theorems. Teaching is much about pointing the obvious that surrounds us. That he has always done masterfully and does it again in "How China Became Capitalist". A must-read from anyone interested in economics, and in a clear analysis of Chinese political economy.
15 di 16 persone hanno trovato utile la seguente recensione
5.0 su 5 stelle Economics: A Humane Science 12 giugno 2012
Di FY - Pubblicato su
Formato:Copertina rigida
Everyone knows Ronald Coase is a great economist, but "How China Became Capitalist" shows us that he is a great historian too. In his new book, Coase approaches history in the same manner he approaches economics. As an economist, Coase has always guarded against the tendency for grand, scintillating theories to overtake quantifiable facts. In writing about what is arguably one of the most turbulent periods in Chinese history, he again seems to relinquish all presumption by piecing together observable historical evidence and letting the conclusions emerge by themselves. The results were surprising but not altogether unintuitive.

Many regard China's transformation from a communist economy to a capitalist one as one of the greatest paradoxes in the 20th century. The authors, however, are able to provide a persuasive account of how this came to be. The general theory is that the capitalist transformation in China is the product of marginal, or fringe, revolutions that occurred independently of the machinations of the Chinese government. This is not to say that the Chinese government did not play a role in fostering these developments. As illustrated by the authors, in many cases the Chinese government fostered the environment conducive to the flourishing of capitalism without intending to. The emergence of private farming in the 1960s is a good example. Private farming was encouraged by the Chinese government as a temporary measure to quell grain shortages after the failure of the Great Leap Forward became apparent. Such an ad hoc measure however, had lasting, albeit unintended, implications for China's economic development.

The argument is more nuanced than this. What this book does particularly well is its portrayal of the government's persistent attempt to reconcile the conflict between ideology and pragmatism. Far from being blinded by ideological fervor, the Chinese government was cognizant of the benefits of a capitalist economy. This prompted them to create entities like the Special Economic Zones- market development that can still be controlled by a communist state. In doing so, they hoped to enjoy the perks of capitalism without having to adopt the supposed values of a capitalist state.

The last point is given the reflection it deserves in the closing paragraphs,

"The stupendous loss in the depth and richness of human nature is noticeable part of the price we have paid in transforming economics from a moral science of man creating wealth to a cold logic of choice in resource allocation...As a result modern economists are hard pressed to say much that is coherent and insightful..."

We are reminded here that the creation of wealth is merely a means to attain human goals of creativity and happiness. Accordingly, Economics should be used to cultivate all that is best in human nature: compassion, appreciation of beauty, or the ability to empathize with others. Richard Sandor, whose book Good Derivatives: A Story of Financial and Environmental Innovation I had read recently is a fine example. Modern economics has enabled us to think on the behalf of many generations to come. It does so by providing us with the tools to stop global warming.

"How China Became Capitalist" is a story of many threads, all of which are based on sound historical evidence and sober economic reasoning. It is a book that can be read by a wide audience, as it avoids of technical industry jargon. Instead, it demonstrates many economic principles with real world examples- whether it is asymmetric information caused by a centralized government and decentralized townships, allocative inefficiency induced by subsidizing incompetent manufacturing plants or structural employment through migration laws.

It may surprise you that a book that discusses such a complex issue so effectively is only 207 pages- a feat that is no doubt made possible by the mastery of the authors.
13 di 14 persone hanno trovato utile la seguente recensione
4.0 su 5 stelle Important but difficult book 14 maggio 2013
Di etienne53 - Pubblicato su
Formato:Copertina flessibile
This is a book about an important topic, and the authors know their material. There are few books out there with this much substance this well analyzed, and the lessons the authors teach, and probably more importantly the false lessons they refute, need to be understood by policy makers.

Unfortunately, it is almost impenetrable, and I have a strong background in economics and am so old that I lived through the Cultural Revolution, Nixon going to China, et. al. The story is not told chronological order and there are quite literally dozens of names that are introduced, often with no background. I found that I had to make a list of characters, look many of them up in Wikipedia, and then make chronological notes as I read.

There is also a strong tendency to draw conclusions without citing much evidence within the text, which weakens their arguments. This is especially unfortunate because I think they draw the right conclusions.

Coase and Ning Wang needed a better editor.
13 di 16 persone hanno trovato utile la seguente recensione
5.0 su 5 stelle A Great Story Told by a Great Economist 11 luglio 2012
Di De-Xing Guan - Pubblicato su
Formato:Copertina rigida|Acquisto verificato
That a socialist economy such as China became capitalist is an amazing story in economic history. As a great economist next only to Adam Smith (my opinion), Ronald Coase has given a wonderful economic interpretation in this book coauthored with Ning Wang. The authors emphasize that the success in China in the past 30 years has been the result of the autonomous fight for survival from numerous starving peasants. Then the household responsibility system replaced the stupid commune system in the early 1980s, which laid the foundation of other three marginal revolutions in the coming years: the rises of township and village enterprises, the individual economy, and the special economic zone. But the marginal revolutions themselves were not enough to support the rise of a well-functioning price system because the price of productive factors was still controlled by the central government and the state-owned enterprises. The second-round reforms came in the 1990s. Two of them were the most important: the 1992 price reform, which gave up the dual-track pricing system for most products, and the 1994 tax reform, which imposed a 17% value-added tax on all enterprises and therefore reduced the negotiating and searching costs between central and local governments. These two reforms strengthened the price system and helped establish the market economy in China. But not all developments in China were good for becoming capitalist. Coase and Wang picked one of them which China has failed to accomplish: an open and free market for ideas, including the freedom of speech, thought, and the exchange of ideas. This is the last as well as the most important problem China has to face in the next decades if it wishes to go further in the way towards capitalism, even the one with Chinese characteristics.
3 di 4 persone hanno trovato utile la seguente recensione
5.0 su 5 stelle Marginal revolutions and market of ideas are key pillars to economic growth 2 novembre 2013
Di Hubert Shea - Pubblicato su
Formato:Copertina flessibile|Acquisto verificato
Economists and policy-makers have opined that the phenomenal economic growth in China for the previous three decades is due mainly to their well-established central planning system which is still favourable to the emergence and development of entrepreneurial activities with a well-balanced market mechanism. Besides, a plethora of the recent literature on China’s economy has attributed this phenomenal economic success to the concerted effort paid by the Chinese state leaders (i.e. Deng Xiao-ping) who have determined to transform China into a capitalist economy. In this book, Professor Coase and Wang have provided readers with a more in-depth analysis of how China can transform itself from a closed economy to an international economic nation.

According to Professor Coase and Wang, the three-decade economic reforms in China are zigzag, arduous, and intermittent. First, Chinese state leaders had conflicting views (i.e. Deng Xiao-ping vs. Chen Yuan) towards level of state control over the free market (P.69). Second, deep-seated political ideologies such as Marxism and Maoism have handcuffed and deadlocked full-scale economic reforms led by the state (P.96, P.109, P.115). Third, inefficient state-owned enterprises and the complex centralized administration system are unfavourable to economic reforms (P.69). Fourth, top-down institutional change in factors of production, pricing and tax system, as well as ownership can be very risky to the state which has been long ingrained by the collective economy.

Professor Coase and Wang have maintained that this is not the well-established central planning system which results in effective economic reforms in China. Nor do they regard China state leaders as experienced in building market economy (P.152) and blind-followers of the capitalist economy. The success recipe of the three-decade economic reforms is contingent on a multitude of marginal revolutions (P.65) to start from below and specific regions before the new economic policy can be applicable to the whole country without causing any disastrous political and social consequences. Actors and institutions who have involved in these marginal revolutions encompass peasants (de-collectivization and household responsibility system in Sichuan province: P.46), entrepreneurs (the rise of township and village enterprises and individual economy in Wenzhou: P.58), and local governments and foreign investors (special economic zones in Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Shantou, and Xiamen, Industrial parks: P.63, P.140). These marginal revolutions turned out to be a great success and they are what Professor Coase and Wang has termed as the experimental and hands-off approaches adopted by the Chinese state leaders to reform the economy on the fault-proof formula of “seeking truth from facts”.

Both authors suggest that China might not drift towards the western model of capitalism (P.174) but sustainable economic development in China in the twentieth-first century depends greatly on how China state leaders can upkeep market reform and rules of morality (P.185). Comparing with other developed economies, China economy has demonstrated its fragility and weakness such as a dearth of Chinese brands in the global market, short on innovation and distinctive products, deficiency in education and legal system. The absence of a free market for ideas from education to law and politics can generate a malign effect on China’s economic growth and become an Achilles’ heel to China’s economic and social development in the long perspective (P.199).

This book is highly recommended to readers who are interested in having a better understanding of China’s breathtaking economic reforms and the complex process of institutional changes in the largest emerging country in the world.

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