February 02, 2011

23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism

The Danish Institute for International Studies (DIIS) has the pleasure of inviting you to a Global Economy Monday Book Launch on:

23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism
Friday, 4 February 2011, 13.30-15.00

Danish Institute for International Studies
Main Auditorium
Strandgade 71, ground floor, 1401 Copenhagen K


We are delighted to announce that Ha-Joon Chang from University of Cambridge will visit DIIS to present his new book, 23 Things They Don't Tell You about Capitalism(Penguin, 2010). Only a few months after its release, the book is already a tremendous success.

“A masterful debunking of some of the myths of capitalism ... Witty, iconoclastic and uncommonly commonsensical ... this book will be invaluable (John Gray, The Guardian)

“Important ... Persuasive … [an] engaging case for a more cautious and caring era of globalization” (James Crabtree, The Financial Times)

“Myth-busting and nicely-written … the best economists are those who look around at our man-made world and ask themselves “why?”. Chang is one” (Sean O’Grady, Independent)

The book engages with what it considers to be the biggest myths about the world we live in, turning received economic wisdom on its head. “Capitalism may have its flaws, but there’s no real alternative to free-market capitalism – ultimately it’s making us all more prosperous”; “Free market policies make all countries richer”; “The West is more efficient and financially savvy than the developing world, and technology is the way forward for everyone”, right? Chang challenges each of these conventional wisdoms, arguing instead that there is no such thing as a “free” market; that globalization isn’t making the world richer; that poor countries are more entrepreneurial than rich ones – and that the washing machine has changed people’s lives more than the internet.

Chang’s book is not an anti-capitalism manifesto. He recognizes the failings of centrally planned economies, and describes capitalism as “the worst economic system, except for all the others”. What he wants to get across to his readers is that capitalism, in its currently predominating configuration, is dangerously off tracks, and that in terms of economic policy a much more pragmatic approach is needed, by which governments gets much more actively involved markets, in a range of different ways.

For an appetizer, watch Ha-Joon Chang discuss his book here


Ha-Joon Chang is a leading heterodox economist and Reader at University of Cambridge. Chang specializes in development economics, and has previously served as a consultant for several UN organizations, the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and the European Development Bank as well as for Oxfam and several other NGOs. Chang is also a fellow at the Washington DC-based Center for Economic and Policy Research. He has written several books apart from 23 Things They Didn’t Tell You About Capitalism (Allen Lane, 2010) including Bad Samaritans: The Myth of Free Trade and the Secret History of Capitalism (Bloomsbury, 2008) and Kicking Away the Ladder: Development Strategy in Historical Perspective (Anthem, 2002).

Morten Ougaard is Professor at Copenhagen Business School (CBS) at the Department of Business and Politics. Among Ougaard’s key research interests are macro-theories of the international system in a historical perspective and empirical analyses of key developments in the global political economy. His publications include “Private Institutions and Business Power in Global Governance” (Global Governance, 2008, 14:3), Political Globalization: State, Power, and Social Forces (Palgrave, 2004), Towards a Global Polity (co-edited with R. Higgott, Routledge, 2002) and most recently Business and Global Governance (co-edited with Anna Leander, Routledge, 2010)


13.30-13.35 Introduction
Jakob Vestergaard, Senior Researcher, DIIS

13.35-14.15 23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism
Ha-Joon Chang, Reader, University of Cambridge, UK

14.15-14.30 Discussant
Morten Ougaard, Professor, Copenhagen Business School

14.30-15.00 Comments and Questions

15.00-16.00 Drinks Reception

Chair: Jakob Vestergaard, Senior Researcher, DIIS

Practical Information

The seminar will be held in English.

Registration is unfortunately no longer possible due to overwhelming interest in the seminar.

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