False Economy, By Alan Beattie
Sunday 06 June 2010
In this readable and erudite economic history, Alan Beattie's stated aim is to destroy the "fatalistic myths" routinely used to explain the success of some economies and the failure of others. In the 19th century, for instance, there was no guarantee that America would grow into the world's most powerful economy while Argentina's would stall: "Both were young dynamic countries with fertile farmland and confident exporters." Had the South won the American Civil War, theorises Beattie, their economies today would have been very similar.
Beattie trawls examples from around the world and throughout history, explaining why Peru grows so much asparagus (America pays it to, to discourage its farmers from producing cocaine), or why owning mineral wealth is often catastrophic for a country's economy. And why are so few Islamic countries rich? Nothing to do with religion, Beattie argues, but quite a lot to do with Genghis Khan.
Beattie's final message is optimistic: there's nothing predestined about economic success or failure, and any country prepared to learn from history can determine its own fate.
Watch the new House of Cards series three trailerTV
Oscars 2015It was the first time Barney has compered the Academy Awards
Oscars 2015 From Meryl Streep whooping Patricia Arquette's equality speech to Chris Pine in tears
Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants
TV ReviewThe intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Bill Clinton portrait features Monica Lewinsky reference, artist admits
- 2 Delhi bus rapist blames dead victim for attack because 'girls are responsible for rape'
- 3 Pornhub turns masturbation into energy in bid to save the planet
- 4 Have sex with your iPad thanks to the new sex toy no-one asked for
- 5 Average penis size revealed: Scientists attempt to find what is 'normal' to reassure concerned men
Historian: ‘Disney was right to show King John as a villain' in Robin Hood
Poldark star Heida Reed says show is not that racy: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
Glastonbury 2015: Coldplay will not headline but Florence Welch might play, says Emily Eavis
Game of Thrones season 5 spoilers: What we can expect according to George RR Martin's books
Fifty Shades of Grey movie shows first sex scene 'after 40 minutes'
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
Durham Free School: 'Creationism taught at' free school facing closure
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut