Capitalism with Chinese Characteristics

That’s the title of the new book by Yasheng Huang.  This very serious work reexamines the role of the state in the Chinese economy.  It suggests that the Chinese private sector has been more productive than claimed, China fits the traditional theory of property rights and incentives more than is often realized, the Chinese economy is not necessarily getting freer, market ideas are strongest in rural China, rural China was reregulated in an undesirable way starting in the early 1990s, the "Shanghai miracle" is overrated, when you calculate the size of the private sector in China it matters a great deal whether you use input or output measures, and China may collapse into crony capitalism rather than following the previous lead of Korea and Japan.

The dissection of Joseph Stiglitz on China, starting on p.68, is remarkable.

I do not have the detailed knowledge to evaluate all of these claims but in each case the author offers serious evidence and arguments.  This book does not make for light reading (though it is clearly written), but it is quite possibly the most important economics so far this year.  Here is a good review from The Economist.


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