From Poverty to Prosperity Watch
By Arnold Kling
I should hold off on plugging the book until it’s closer to publication date, but reading it over gets me really excited. We include interviews with a number of famous economists, and there are little nuggets of insight buried in them. Paul Romer and Joel Mokyr get better each time I re-read them.
Robert Solow says that businesses don’t much care for free markets, and that they would prefer monopoly. Douglass North says,
The economic interests are the elites that produce economic activity. But they tend to support political groups that, in turn, will protect them from too much competition. The interplay is the elites in the political world protecting the economic elites from too much competition and giving them monopolies, while on the other hand the economic elites provide the funds that support the political elites. And the interplay is all over Latin America. It’s a disease, but it’s a disease that is a natural thing and it’s very hard to get rid of.
Solow and North represent what I might call the dark view, which is that free markets are not natural. What is natural is to try to use force to exclude rivals from profitable activities. I am an extreme believer in the dark view. I take it so far as to claim that nothing that we would recognize as a free market existed until very modern times. From the standpoint of economic history, Matt Ridley is going to argue against the extreme dark view.