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The Globalization and Development Reader: Perspectives on Development and Global Change, 2nd Edition by Nitsan Chorev, Amy Bellone Hite, J. Timmons Roberts

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33 The Developmental State: Divergent Responses to Modern Economic Theory and the Twenty-First-Century Economy (2014)

Peter Evans

In the political centres of twenty-first-century global finance, policy debates have a disturbingly anachronistic thrust. In Washington, ideological tropes from early triumphalist neoliberalism are repeated in exaggerated form, perversely combined with regressive calls for destructive austerity measures. The most fervent political clarion calls invoke a caricature of eighteenth-century America while echoing Polanyi’s descriptions of the fiscal policies that led to the Great Depression. In London and Washington, faith that shrinking the size of the state will generate renewed economic dynamism continues to march forward with almost zombie like imperviousness to the historical record. It is tempting to simply see this discourse as signal and symptom of the fading relevance of Anglo-American political thinking to economic paradigms of growth and development. Dismissing regressive policy prescriptions as a symptom of decline would be a weak response in the absence of a credible alternative analysis, but an alternative analysis has gradually begun to coalesce.

In the ‘emerging economies’, the political debate on the contributions of public institutions to social and economic progress is quite different. In China, South Africa or Brazil romanticized fantasies of eighteenth-century society have no allure. Policymakers and politicians in these countries ...

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