*Demystifying the Chinese Economy*

That is the new book by Justin Yifu Lin, who is also Chief Economist of the World Bank.  It is derived from lectures delivered in China.  Much of the book is an OK survey, though I did not find it added much insight to extant accounts.

The discussion of why China had no Industrial Revolution does not consider individualism or liberalism, a’la McCloskey.  And what am I to make of sentences like this?:

Building the new socialist countryside, now on the right track, has produced remarkable results.

I suppose it can be held to be true in both the literal and Straussian senses, but when I read it (and some others) frankly I felt my intelligence was being insulted.

There is plenty of talk lately about ethics standards for economists.  How about a new proposal?  For anything in the social sciences written by a citizen of China, or by someone with relatives living in China, or by someone working in or for China, there should be a disclaimer on the publication: “Produced under conditions of censorship and threat of career penalty.”  I don’t favor actually doing that, but the absence of this idea from the debate is itself revealing.


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