False Economy: A Surprising Economic History of the World

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9781594484445: False Economy: A Surprising Economic History of the World

A "provocative...persuasive" (The New York Times) book that examines countries' economic destinies.

In False Economy, Alan Beattie weaves together the economic choices, political choices, economic history, and human stories, that determine whether governments and countries remain rich or poor.

He also addresses larger questions about why they make the choices they do, and what those mean for the future of our global economy. But despite the heady subject matter, False Economy is a lively and lucid book that engagingly and thought-provokingly examines macroeconomics, economic topics, and the fault lines and successes that can make or break a culture or induce a global depression. Along the way, readers will discover why Africa doesn't grow cocaine, why our asparagus comes from Peru, why our keyboard spells QWERTY, and why giant pandas are living on borrowed time.

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About the Author:

Alan Beattie graduated from Balliol College, Oxford, with a degree in history. After taking a master's degree in economics at Cambridge, he worked as an economist at the Bank of England and then joined the in 1998. Currently the FT's world trade editor, he writes about economics, globalization and development.

From The Washington Post:

From The Washington Post's Book World/washingtonpost.com Reviewed by Justin Moyer Pop social science -- think Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner's "Freakonomics" or Malcolm Gladwell's "The Tipping Point" -- is tricky. Authors risk sacrificing the intricacies of scholarship in the service of reader-friendly anecdotes. But Alan Beattie, the world-trade editor at the Financial Times and a former economist for the Bank of England, resists this kind of reduction in "False Economy," a thorough examination of economies from the age of empire to the age of the IMF. Standing proudly against psychology, dialectical materialism and inevitability, Beattie writes, "History is not determined by fate. . . . It is determined by people." He insists that it is not destiny but the right and wrong decisions by political leaders that cause societies to rise and fall. Beattie's analysis dazzles with particulars: He explains why Africa doesn't grow cocaine (poor infrastructure), why Peru grows most of the asparagus consumed in the United States (good lobbyists), and why pandas (whose diet is almost exclusively bamboo) and command economies (which can function only under inefficient bureaucracies) are endangered by inflexibility. A lover of Adam Smith's invisible hand, Beattie criticizes protectionist mollycoddling of inefficient industries. But despite his generally conservative outlook, his far-reaching history is grounded in a curiously Obama-esque, populist belief that open markets guided by modest, business-friendly policies can guide us through the current economic downturn -- that, as Shakespeare put it, "our remedies oft in ourselves do lie."
Copyright 2009, The Washington Post. All Rights Reserved.

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