Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and



10 thoughts on “Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty

  1. Randal Samstag Randal Samstag says:

    The book Why Nations Fail by Daron Acemoglu and James A Robinson comes with book jacket praise from the usual suspects Steven Levitt of Freakonomics fame, Jared Diamond of Collapse fame, Nobel Prize laureate George Akerlof, and Niall Ferguson, champion of imperialism Thomas Freidman dashed off a quick review in his New York Times column for April 1, 2012 Freidman, the giddy fan of globalization, was ecstatic, although he admitted that he was reading the book, but not that he had read i The book Why Nations Fail by Daron Acemoglu and James A Robinson comes with book jacket praise from the usual suspects Steven Levitt of Freakonomics fame, Jared Diamond of Collapse fame, Nobel Prize laureate George Akerlof, and Niall Ferguson, champion of imperialism Thomas Freidman dashed off a quick review in his New York Times column for April 1, 2012 Freidman, the giddy fan of globalization, was ecstatic, although he admitted that he was reading the book, but not that he had read it Freidman points out one of the authors main points Inclusive economic institutions that enforce property rights, create a level playing field, and encourage investments in new technologies and skills areconducive to economic growth than extractive institutions that are structured to extract resources from the many by the few And this is perhaps their main point, albeit one which they share with most neoliberal development economists Acemoglu and Robinson are professors at MIT and Harvard Universities Acemoglu is a winner of the John Bates Clark Medal in the Economics department at MIT and Robinson an area specialist in the department of Government Political Science at Harvard The book seems to be aimed at a wider audience than academia, however.While the authors mine an enormous literature on development to populate their book with dozens of interesting stories of developmental failure and success, at the end of the day, their book devolves into the something similar to most of the neo liberal thinking of which we see so much from the science of economics Diamond, who is quoted on the book jacket as saying Like me, you may succumb to reading it in one go, and then you may come back to it again and again iscritical in a review in the New York Review of Books 7 June 2012 There he points out that after presenting a map of Africa that clearly shows the tropical countries of the interior of the continent at the lowest end of the income scale they insist that geographic factors are Theories That Don t Work compared to their preferred institutional explanation Diamond s reaction While institutions are undoubtedly part of the explanation, they leave much unexplained some of those richer temperate countries are notorious for their histories of bad institutions think of Algeria, Argentina, Egypt, and Libya , while some of the tropical countries e.g., Costa Rica and Tanzania have had relativelyhonest governments What are the economic disadvantages of a tropical location He concludes, In their narrow focus on inclusive institutions, however, the authors ignore or dismiss other factors I mentioned earlier the effects of an area s being landlocked or of environmental damage, factors that they don t discuss Even within the focus on institutions, the concentration specifically on inclusive institutions causes the authors to give inadequate accounts of the ways that natural resources can be a curse After describing Acemoglu and Robinson s botched job in their explanation of the rise of agriculture to assert, in the complete absence of evidence, thathunter gatherers had become sedentary because, for unknown reasons, they happened to develop innovative institutions through a hypothesized political revolution he concludes that Acemoglu and Robinson do themselves a disservice by misstating these findings The book has a few points to recommend it in this reviewer s mind 1 Its insistence on uncertainty in the course of human affairs, 2 Its appreciation for the importance of centralized political structure on economic success, 3 Its recognition of the wasted resources that come with gross inequality But it has glaring blind spots that should cause a critical reader pause.In the first chapter the authors quote from Fra Bartolome de Las Casas s book, A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies Las Casas is presented by the authors as a hero, who defended the rights of the indigenous people enslaved in the New World by the conquistadores They seem positively unaware, however, of the irony that motivated Jorge Luis Borges to mention Las Casas in the very first chapter of HIS book, A Universal History of Infamy For Las Casas s answer to the enslavement of the indigenous people of the New World was to import Africans to work in the Antillean gold mines Thus Borges sees Las Casas not just as the savior of the indigenas of the New World in which effort he was unsuccessful in any case but as the father of W.C Handy s bluesthe mythological dimensions of Abraham Lincoln the five hundred thousand dead of the Civil War and its three hundred millions spent in military pensions the entrance of the word to lynch into the thirteenth edition of the Spanish Academy etc This kind of irony is well over the heads of our authors.They take the failure of the Mayan civilization to be the result of their favorite themes of creation of extractive political institutions and lack of creative destruction They recognize that the coalescence of these institutions created the basis for an impressive economic expansion but see its collapse in the ninth century AD to be the result of the overthrow of the political system that had produced this expansion They recognize that existing archeological evidence does not allow us to reach a definitive conclusion about why the k ubul ajaw and elites surrounding him were overthrown but they take this collapse as evidence nonetheless for their theory that extractive institutions were the cause of that collapse And concerning their diagnosis of collapse , should a Mayan society that apparently thrived for close to one thousand years be considered a failure There is no discussion of the possibility that laterite formation in tropical soils had anything to do with this collapse The story of the Mayans just becomes another example of their pet theory.I have mentioned creative destruction Although there is only one direct mention of the great economist Joseph Schumpeter in the book, there are references aplenty to Schumpeter s most memorable phrase Creative destruction was explained by Schumpeter as follows The opening up of new markets, foreign or domestic, and the organizational development from the craft shop and factory to such concerns as U.S Steel illustrate the same process of industrial mutation if I may use that biological term that incessantly revolutionizes the economic structure from within, incessantly destroying the old one, incessantly creating the new one This process of Creative Destruction is the essential fact about capitalism Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy, page 83 Schumpeter was convinced that the entrepreneur is the driving force for development in a capitalistic society Keynes was not so sure, remarking we are damned if we know why capitalists invest.Acemoglu and Robinson seem to take as gospel that creative destruction is necessary for societal advance and always works toward the public good Someone like Polanyi would no doubt not agree Schumpeter s young Harvard colleague Paul Sweezy certainly did not agree when he participated with Schumpeter in their famous debate at the Harvard Graduate Student s Economics Club in the winter of 1946 47 See on the laws of capitalism, Insights from the Sweezy Schumpeter Debate in Monthly Review, May, 2011 Sweezy s notes for the debate say that There is no reason to deny Schumpeter s entrepreneurial type, but its significance is quite differently evaluated For him the entrepreneur occupies the center of the stage the accumulation process is derivative For me the accumulation process is primary the entrepreneur falls in with it and plays a part in it Sweezy was, of course, one of the most prominent American Marxist economists of the twentieth century For him the historical process of evolution of society was crucial, as it was for Marx And Schumpeter, even as an Austrian economist, had a profound appreciation for this It is not fair to Acemoglu and Robinson to say that they are oblivious to history their book is full of historical anecdotes But this reader gets the sense that for them if a society would just get with the program and encourage capitalists, everything would come out all right.They rail against the monopolies and resistance to enclosure by the Tudor and Stuart kings in England This is a typical response of the neo liberal The problem is not market economies, they say, but those that interfere with the free motion of these economies in society They attribute the rise of the Industrial Revolution in England to an overcoming of the absolutism of the Tudors and Stuarts by the rise of inclusive institutions embodied in the Glorious Revolution by the rise of Parliament But the destruction part of the rise of the entrepreneurial class gets little appreciation For that we have to read Polanyi and Marx And they are oblivious to the fact that without Tudor protectionism, the wool spinning industry in England may never have gotten of the ground To learn about this we would have to read the Marxist historians or Ha Joon Chang s Bad Samaritans.This book contains almost no reference to socialist or even non free trade capitalist critique of the development policies which the authors prefer This, of course, is typical of the environment of American academic departments of economics and political science, where our authors reside In spite of their re telling of many stories about the corruption and distortion imposed upon the people of the South by European imperialism in the nineteenth century, there is no mention of Lenin s Imperialism, Highest Form of Capitalism No mention of Polanyi The only significant mention of Marx is in a passage where they say Lenin and his Communist Party were inspired by Marx, but the practice could not have beendifferent than the theory The Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 was a bloody affair, and there was no humane aspect to it In fact, the Russian Revolution was remarkably bloodless, since the army went wholly over to the Revolution very early in the process There is no question that much blood was spilled during the Civil War and that enormous suffering was caused by the Stalinist purges and forced collectivization of agriculture in Russia, but that the authors would assume uncritically that this meant that the Revolution itself was a bloody affair is a telling indicator of biases that shield them from facts that don t fit their view of reality In a book that is so filled with facts, this ignorance seems systematic as if they were searching out only the facts that fit their theory The authors make an off hand reference to current day Iraq on page 444 with amazing lack of empathy for the impact of the shock and awe imposed on that country by the Bush Cheney Rumsfeld regime and the UN Sanctions that preceded it They use Iraq s recent history to argue against the theory of modernization that they say maintains that all societies, as they grow, are headed toward amodern, developed, and civilized existence, and in particular toward democracy They mention the disastrous economic performance under Saddam Hussein s regime without mentioning the years of pain imposed by continuing NATO enforced sanctions and bombardment For arealistic estimate of that impact the reader is directed to Iraq Under Siege, The Deadly Impact of Sanctions and War, published in 2000, three years before shock and awe There the reader will find another reason behind that disastrous economic performance of the previous decade Anthony Arnove in the introduction to Iraq under Siege quotes from a Wall Street Journal article in 1999 citing unnamed US officials saying, After eight years of enforcing a no fly zone in northern and sourthern Iraq, few military targets remain We are down to the last outhouse Acemoglu and Robinson say that hopes for pluralism were dashed as chaos and civil war descended upon Iraqi society This implies that the chaos and civil war were the result of some internal dynamic in Iraq without considering that what had descended onto Iraqi society was not just the extractive institutions of Saddam Hussein but also the wrath of the American Empire, imposed over a decade of economic sanctions and bombardment since the end of the first Iraq war, Desert Storm They fail to mention the possibility that 6,000 sorties and 1,800 bombs as part of the longest sustained US air operation since the Vietnam War had anything to do with the dissolution of Iraqi society that followed the second US land invasion by Bush, the younger Iraq had long since been bombed back to the stone age to quote an earlier American general talking about that earlier war Acemoglu and Robinson make no mention of this.One of the interesting facts that the authors dredge up from the large anthropological and historical literature upon which they report is a story from the history of Dutch colonialism in the East Indies They tell the story of the Banda Islands which had established trading relations with English, Portuguese, Indian, and Chinese merchants for mace and nutmeg, which were indigenous to their islands In 1621 the Dutch governor of Batavia now Jakarta in Indonesia Jan Pieterszoon Coen sailed to Banda with a fleet and proceeded to massacre almost the entire population of the islands, probably about fifteen thousand people He set up a plantation system in place of the thriving economic activity of the local Banda people and divided the islands into sixty eight plantations, awarded to sixty eight Dutchmen, mostly former and current employees of the Dutch East India Company They use this to support their major thesis, that European expansionsowed the seeds of underdevelopment in many diverse corners of the world by imposing, or further strengthening existing, extractive institutions But their emphasis is on the extractive institutions and not on the fact that European imperialism imposed this reality by genocidal force of arms This is a very strange emphasis to place on these facts.Diamond s critique in his NYRB article provides a good summary of this book There he points to the authors resort to assertion unsupported or contradicted by facts This book presents what is really a banal conclusion that authoritarian institutions that impose the will of a small group of elites onto a population is the primary cause of underdevelopment This is not a new theory It is a re statement of Aristotle s Politics The real questions are why these authoritarian institutions succeed in taking over power in so many societies and how societies with apparently inclusive institutions like those in current day United States have evolved into such unequal societies This book leaves us no closer to an answer to these questions.The real problem that I have with this book is that it uncritically takes for granted the underlying assumptions from the neoclassical economist s tool box They point out the obvious Europeans themselves stamped out the possibility of economic growth in many parts of the world that they conqueredthe lands where Industrial Revolution originally did not spread remain relatively poor the Industrial Revolution and other new technologies are unlikely to spread to places around the world today where a minimum degree of centralization of the state hasn t been achieved These conclusions are delivered with a tone of great solemnity, but no one but the most dogmatic libertarians or European chauvinists would seriously disagree The real question is how to change this Their prescription ofinclusion the like of which we have in the United States may satisfy some, but it does not satisfy this reviewer


  2. Yalman Onaran Yalman Onaran says:

    This could be written in one chapter or a long magazine piece Has an interesting theory, but it just goes on for too long and not worth spending the time.


  3. WILLIAM2 WILLIAM2 says:

    This economic history is, as far as it goes, excellent The main thesis is ultra simple nations must develop inclusive economic and political institutions if they are to achieve prosperity Such political institutions include fair and free elections, an independent judiciary, uncorrupt legislative and executive branches etc etc Inclusive economic institutions include financial controls such as in the U.S the Fed, the SEC, trust breaking litigation, and so forth The authors say all of these This economic history is, as far as it goes, excellent The main thesis is ultra simple nations must develop inclusive economic and political institutions if they are to achieve prosperity Such political institutions include fair and free elections, an independent judiciary, uncorrupt legislative and executive branches etc etc Inclusive economic institutions include financial controls such as in the U.S the Fed, the SEC, trust breaking litigation, and so forth The authors say all of these things are mutually reinforcing In the U.S., for instance, all three main governmental institutions at the federal level hold each other in check This is alsoor less true in Canada, Western Europe, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and Botswana Yes, that Botswana The stories of Botswana and the rest of post colonial Africa are ones I have not come across elsewhere and for which I am especially grateful.Nations with inclusive economic and political institutions allow something called creative destruction This is what happens when new technologies appear and cause a redistribution of wealth Perhaps the most recent example of creative destruction has been the impact of computers and the internet So many industries have been upset by these new technologies publishing, the music industry, retail stores, manufacturing, etc etc Nations which do not have inclusive economic and political institutions are called extractive An extractive nation is one in which an elite prospers from the misfortune of the rest of the population One example of this is the post colonial African nation of Sierra Leone When the British left Sierra Leone, and it was thought that the extractive mechanisms they had put in place would be abolished, just the opposite happened Local strong men came along and upped the ante This had the effect of disincentivizing entrepreneurs After all, why work hard if 90% of one s output will be seized by the junta Moreover, such extractive nations will not permit creative destruction because it threatens to undermine the power of the governing elite So the extractive states tend to be backward because they shun new technologies Though examples from antiquity are adduced Rome, Mayan civilization, for instance, both extractive the authors are mostly concerned with what happened starting with the Industrial Revolution on They show how the English Civil War and subsequent Glorious Revolution set the stage for the growth of inclusive political and economic institutions in England and how these became mutually reinforcing over time The book is compelling I hope people living in these extractive nations will get a translation because it is so eye opening But that s unlikely, isnt it Since a major feature of extractive nations is suppression of the media, which is transparency This is a view of history, on the other hand, that does not question its foundations It s a great cheering section for capitalism generally But there s a huge problem with this economic growth at all costs mentality It may have been fine for a century or so but now it s no longer tenable In fact, it s killing us climate change, loss of biodiversity, global deforestation our oceans are covered, by one recent estimate, with 480 billion cubic tons of plastic GDP is the wrong measure of our progress now We need new sustainable economic models So the book, while being a captivating history of how capitalism has worked historically, offers no solutions for how it might change New models are badly needed If, that is, we haven t already passed the ecological tipping point


  4. Siew Siew says:

    Such an insightful and shocking book The examples are very well explained, and I truly enjoyed thinking and discussing the points raised in this book Only ifpeople would read this book and understand that it is not for the lack of aid to poor countries, but the very political and economical structure of the country that makes it poor The whole inclusive and extractive political economical standpoint is very interesting The only nitpick I would comment on the book suffers from excessiv Such an insightful and shocking book The examples are very well explained, and I truly enjoyed thinking and discussing the points raised in this book Only ifpeople would read this book and understand that it is not for the lack of aid to poor countries, but the very political and economical structure of the country that makes it poor The whole inclusive and extractive political economical standpoint is very interesting The only nitpick I would comment on the book suffers from excessive repetition Only if the writers of this book would take some lessons from Jonathan Haidt on how to structure a non fiction book properly


  5. Heidi Heidi says:

    The central idea of the book is that states fail because of their political institutions, namely because of their extractive nature This thesis is, in my opinion, extremely simplistic.Economic processes are never this one dimensional The authors argue that the three theories of poverty nations are poor because of their unfortunate geographic location, their culture does not facilitate growth and the West simply does not know how to transform poor countries into rich ones are completely irrel The central idea of the book is that states fail because of their political institutions, namely because of their extractive nature This thesis is, in my opinion, extremely simplistic.Economic processes are never this one dimensional The authors argue that the three theories of poverty nations are poor because of their unfortunate geographic location, their culture does not facilitate growth and the West simply does not know how to transform poor countries into rich ones are completely irrelevant which I disagree with as in, I think that there are probably multiple causes as to why some nations are rich and some poor The assumption that only politics and political institutions determine whether a country is poor or prosperous is simply too one sided The authors do back their ideas up with countless examples from history but these sometimes tend to be irrelevant and random For example They state that disease is not the reason why Africa is poor, it is rather the consequence of Africa already being poor A possible solution African governments should invest in health care just like England did in the 19th century Firstly, the leader of the Industrial Revolution was by no means a poor country They had the means and resources to do lots of things that contemporary Africa can only dream of Therefore, this solution is not really much of a solution Assuming that the political elite in some of the poorest nations in Africa have the resources to build up a new system of health care this would also mean that the government should provide education for the public which in turn would mean that the mostly agricultural nature of the society would have to change because the country would need educated professionals is not feasible That is not to say that African nations are not capable of achieving success, in fact quite a few of them have already done so in various fields but in general, building a country essentially from scratch is not that simple The authors also argue that growth under extractive institutions is possible However, the Caribbean islands were extremely wealthy in the 17th and 18th centuries despite their extractive institutions They were not poor and definitely not failed The authors then argue elsewhere that several countries in the Middle East only thrive because of oil, should oil prices fall, they would quickly lose some of their wealth This is probably true but we cannot ignore the fact that those states are wealthy even though they operate under extractive institutions, just like those of 17 18th century Caribbean And calling the Ottoman Empire and the Mayans failed is simply incorrect If a civilization manages to thrive for hundreds and hundreds of years, it is definitely not failed.There is obviously merit in the authors argument and I do agree that political and economic institutions have a lot to do with how prosperous and successful a state becomes History obviously matters but what really annoyed me was the way the book drones on it The authors constantly repeat themselves and it made me feel as if someone was hitting me in the head with a hammer, making sure that I understand that Nations fail because of extractive institutions Okay, I get it already To sum up, colonialism and authoritarian governments do indeed stagnate the economy as a whole and create distrust among people Evil institutions never do too much to help the general public But they re not the only reason why some countries are poor and some rich Edit 06.03.2019 wording and sentence structure.


  6. David David says:

    This is an excellent book about the reasons why some nations are prosperous, while others are steeped in poverty The authors contend that some nations have inclusive economic and political policies These policies give a political voice to a large segment of the population, rather than only to a small elite As a result, a set of checks and balances tends toward a positive feedback, sometimes called a virtuous cycle This virtuous cycle helps to accelerate the tendencies toward inclusivenes This is an excellent book about the reasons why some nations are prosperous, while others are steeped in poverty The authors contend that some nations have inclusive economic and political policies These policies give a political voice to a large segment of the population, rather than only to a small elite As a result, a set of checks and balances tends toward a positive feedback, sometimes called a virtuous cycle This virtuous cycle helps to accelerate the tendencies toward inclusiveness, and to suppress occasional lapses toward power grabbing.The other side of the coin are nations with extractive economic and political policies A single person, or a small elite, finds it in their personal interests to grab power and extract as many of the nation s resources for their personal gain They reject technological innovation, and try their best to maintain the status quo These nations may temporarily improve their economical conditions, but in the long run their improvements cannot be sustained Interestingly, the authors claim that China, despite economic improvements in recent decades, is going to be a short lived phenomenon At its roots, the political system is still extractive, because it does not allow dissension, does not protect private property, and does not extend the rule of law to everyone.The authors go into considerable detail, explaining why Western Europe, especially Great Britain, becameeconomically successful than Eastern Europe They extend their understanding to North vs South America They describe the histories of many other countries as well, to understand why inclusive or extractive policies have helped or hindered progress The book tends to be rather repetitive, sometimes too repetitive for my taste Also, sometimes the sentence constructions are a bit awkward Nevertheless, the book gives some fascinating insights into political science, and why nations become progressive, or tend toward failure


  7. Keith Swenson Keith Swenson says:

    Overall very very interesting and very important topic I would give it 5 stars except it is very long, detailed, and not an easy read However well worth it.Thesis in brief some countries are properous, and others are not What causes the difference Some are right next to each other and the difference in prosperity can not be explained by geography, climate, or even culture Instead it is the system, and what is it about the system that explains the difference They elaborate a theory that t Overall very very interesting and very important topic I would give it 5 stars except it is very long, detailed, and not an easy read However well worth it.Thesis in brief some countries are properous, and others are not What causes the difference Some are right next to each other and the difference in prosperity can not be explained by geography, climate, or even culture Instead it is the system, and what is it about the system that explains the difference They elaborate a theory that there are inclusive political and economic systems, and there are extractive political and economic system A precondition to either of these is a minimal level of centralized political control.To distill this to a very simplified level a region needs to develop a minimal amount of centralized control At that point it is possible to create a system that is inclusive, where power is somewhat distributed, and economic gains are shared, which helps make the economy grow in a sustained way At some point it is possible to switch to an extractive system where the people in power manipulate the system to enrich themselves and to stay in power, and at that point sustained growth becomes impossible The rest of the world passes it up, or in some cases the country descends into ruin.The bulk of the book is a scholarly and encyclopedic study of different cultures, testing and demonstrating the theory.Mexico vs USA neighboring countries and the difference in climate does not explain the extensive difference in the properity Surprisingly, 500 years ago Mexico was farprosperous than the land north of the border Mexico had 500 times as many people per sq mile than Virginia, it had an advanced civilization, and tremendous wealth by any measure How did it come that today USA is so prosperous compared to Mexico When the Europeans got to mexico, they immediately set up an extractive system to enrich themselves, while in Virginia the Jamestown settlers came close to extinction, and had to set up an inclusive system in order to survive Once the pattern is set, it is very hard to change, and echos of these patterns survive today.Chapter 2 addresses all of the common folk theories of why rich countries and poor countries are different geography, culture, ignorance Evidence against is presented The conclusion poor countries are poor because those that have power make choices that create poverty Chapter 3 explains extractive and inclusive using the example of South and North Korea which were identical before the border was drawn at the 38th parallel Nations fail when they have extractive economic institutions supported by extractive political institutions that impede and even block economic growth Economic growth requires that creative destruction that Adam Smith referred to, and in an extractive system, those in power oppose change because they fear it will dilute their power and wealth They actively oppose change However, without change you can t have growth Congo and Soviet Union are given as examples of extractive systems that achieved limited growth because the elite actively directed the resources to this end but it does not last.Chapter 4 talks about systems that change from one form to another at a critical juncture The black death The Glorious Revolution Japan in transition from Edo to Meiji Chapter 5 is a wide ranging survey of countries and periods of their history with extractive systems.Chapter 6 covers rise and fall scenarios Venice, Rome, others.Chapter 7 stands on its own and presents the answer to the question Why did the industrial revolution happen in England After all, England was not that different from the rest of Europe, but those small differences, and a critical juncture, pushed it in just the right way to be ready for the technological advances of the industrial revolution.Chapter 8 gives many example e.g Somalia of how the people in power of some countries avoided any advantage from the industrial revolution and were left economically behind because of it.Chapter 9 gives some example most notably the Spice Islands where invaders managed actually to destroy inclusive cultures in order to line their own pockets.Chapter 10 discusses the diffusion of prosperity and how that enabled key countries to benefit from the industrial revolution.Chapter 11 explains the virtuous circle and how when a country manages to get inclusive economic and political institutions, it tends to stay that way in a stable configuration.Chapter 12 explains the vicious circle, the pattern where extractive systems tend to reinforce themselves and become stable, even as the country sinks into ruin.Chapter 13 brings us back to the present day, Zimbabwe, Sierra Leon, Argentina, Korea, and the US south slave states.Chapter 14 some positive stories of countries that made a narrow escape Botswana started very poor, but has grownthan any of its neighbors into a country with the highest per capta income in sub saharan Africa How the south escaped slavery, how those institutions persisted for a hundred years, but finally made it out.Chapter 15 with all that groundwork behind you, you are finally prepared to fully understand properity, poverty, and their causes They reject the idea that natural growth will bring prosperity once the country is educated enough Foreign aid will never work in a country that has extractive institutions what has to happen is a change to inclusive, and there is nothing natural or easy about this change.The book yeilds a lot of insight on the ways that countries can evolve, and indeed patterns that are sure to cause failure I can t stop wishing that the authors could offer a sure fire way to solve the problem, to turn a country from extractive to inclusive, but alas this is not included in book It is clear that no simple solutions exist It would seem that each country to be saved would probably need a solution unique to it.In poor countries they found extractive institutions in rich countries inclusive institutions however the cause and effect is not completely clear We don t really know what causes the form encountered, nor what might cause a change of form Thus is might simply be that a particular country just happens to be poor and extractive it is hard to say whether change to an inclusive structure is even possible Maybe you have to growing to have inclusive systems What is the chicken, and what is the egg This does not diminish the book in any way Their 15 years of research are brought to expose patterns that I expect to enhance my way of viewing world politics, economics, and culture, for many years to come


  8. billyskye billyskye says:

    I worked for an international affairs journal when this book was first released I remember the considerable energy the authors seemed to be putting into its marketing the articles, the interviews, the debates, the blog, the proliferation of review copies It seemed like there was a concerted effort to get Why Nations Fail added to that canon of suspect, generalist readings of geopolitics your Clash of Civilizations, your Tragedy of Great Power Politics, your End of History and the Last Man I worked for an international affairs journal when this book was first released I remember the considerable energy the authors seemed to be putting into its marketing the articles, the interviews, the debates, the blog, the proliferation of review copies It seemed like there was a concerted effort to get Why Nations Fail added to that canon of suspect, generalist readings of geopolitics your Clash of Civilizations, your Tragedy of Great Power Politics, your End of History and the Last Man that worm their way into the lexicons of all first year IR students alongside the terms realism, constructivism, and neoliberal institutionalism I must confess that at the time I was put off by the baby blue cover everyone knows that all serious works of poli sci keep their color schemes to the austere blacks and whites But it was about time to give it a go The book s central thesis is very simple Extractive institutions limit creative destruction borrowing Joseph Schumpeter s famous term as a society run by a narrow elite with entrenched power fear a disruption of the status quo This iron law of oligarchy limits long term market success The answer lies in inclusive economic and political structures that foster a virtuous circle of innovation and sustainable growth These phrases are repeated ad nauseam They season the cherry picked case studies that span the vast breadth of human history and take up the meat of the read If all that seems rather obvious, I don t think you re alone Who among those with access to this text remain unconvinced that graft, monopolism, despotism yield limited prosperity for society at large Vladimir Putin Viktor Orban Donald Trump I m sure their motivations stem from very different sources of inspiration than those the authors have in mind As for the Western academic tradition it seems rather conclusive on this matter Why Nations Fail doesn t deal much in nuance It commits to a definition for neither nationhood surely something a bit different than Benedict Anderson s imagined communities nor failure are we talking a runaway Gini coefficient large scale income inequality Scarcity Barbarians at the gates So, what are we left with Almost a tautology Nations are sets of state run institutions They fail when those state run institutions break down Naturally I m going to coin a term here As a disclaimer I ve never studied classics so it s probably less than apt, but here goes Historrhea from Ancient Greek histor a history and rheo to flow noun hist or rhea Historrhea is characterized by excessive and sometimes incoherent tellings of societal events I find there s a lot of historrhea in these sorts of books that attempt to prescribe some grand narrative to human civilization That seems to be what s going on here and I m not a huge fan for a few reasons 1 It comes across as tendentious I ve witnessed enough anthropology professors dealing body blows to Guns, Germs, and Steel, the misguided goodwill of Jeffrey Sachs, and the latest Tom Friedman mixed metaphor to know that things are rarely that simple A lot of people have lived on planet earth And collectively they have done a lot of stuff You can bend the past to fit a linear argument in pretty much any way you want if you try hard enough That doesn t mean you ve stumbled upon some harmonious truth to the universe, especially if 2 There is almost no reliance on data statistical modeling This was a huge disappointment I understand that Why Nations Fail was written as a work of pop history, but Drs Acemoglu and Robinson are respected economists Why not play to your strengths and craft acompelling, rigorous argument in the process As it stands 3 The results are not very educational I read non fiction to learn It is very difficult to internalize information for me at least when the text skips haphazardly throughout time and space, dealing in surface level treatments of complex issues like a disorganized AP World History study guide The analysis of events never makes it past the Wikipedia page I know enough to be suspicious of this.Drs Acemoglu and Robinson reject the historical determinism of other hypotheses for state success and state failure, but to me that s kind of like a proponent of the Cartesian theater rejecting neurological determinism Sure, you ve liberated the mind from its fated ends, but how, then, do you do the same for the homunculus you ve created Here too, we manage a claim that nations may determine their own fate through the institutions they establish, but where do these institutions come from Wherein lies the will to will Really you re not getting anywhere at all The theories proffered by Why Nations Fail are purely descriptive in nature Drs Acemoglu and Robinson acknowledge this lack of predictive power, but I m not sure that makes it better I think the most damning indictment of this sort of work comes at the authors own hands As the book concludes, Drs Acemoglu and Robinson can t resist making some tame prognostications based on their thesis The year is 2012 China is bound for a crash, they write its authoritarian regime can t hold on Conversely, Brazil s future is looking bright as the party of Lula rights the ship In 2017 we know a bit of how things play out Xi Jinping consolidates power as the Chinese economy continues its implacable advance The reports of its demise have been greatly exaggerated Meanwhile, Brazil remains mired in its worst recession on record while the government is wracked with corruption scandal after corruption scandal Of course, there is always time for things to turn around Even those in the Chinese politburo riding high must know this The empire, long divided, must unite long united, must divide Thus it has ever been Perhaps a window will open up in which the authors can claim vindication that they were right in the long run Of course, another famous quotation comes to mind in response.Two stars In the long run we are all dead


  9. Max Max says:

    I think the premise of this book is fantastic, and the first 50 pages were terrific Beyond that, I was pretty disappointed by the execution The book is built upon the theory that it is not economic policies, but rather institutions such as good governance, social norms and a strong legal system that play the fundamental role in economic growth and development I find this to be a compelling theory and I think it is an extremely useful framework from which to view economic and political dev I think the premise of this book is fantastic, and the first 50 pages were terrific Beyond that, I was pretty disappointed by the execution The book is built upon the theory that it is not economic policies, but rather institutions such as good governance, social norms and a strong legal system that play the fundamental role in economic growth and development I find this to be a compelling theory and I think it is an extremely useful framework from which to view economic and political development Like most big theory books, this book is spent explaining how this theory explains the world I think the main problem with this approach is that these are economists and not economic historians trying to write about history, and their history is awfully simplistic The economic history of institutions would be fascinating, if done in a comprehensive way, but this readslike a superficially researched college history paper than a comprehensive history of institutions and their role in economic history Judging from Acemoglu and Robinson s version of history, institutions explain all major political developments of the past 5 millennia, and there are no counter examples that contradict their explanations These are unrealistic positions


  10. Ana Ana says:

    A fascinating albeit difficult to grasp study on why some nations succeed whilst others fail The amount of information in this book is astounding, seeing as it is the result of 15 years of research on the topic This is definitely a book I will re read, because with a first read you just get the basic argument, but with the second one you get all the subtleties I recommend this to anyone with an interest in why our world is the way it is.


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Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty Brilliant and engagingly written, Why Nations Fail answers the question that has stumped the experts for centuries Why are some nations rich and others poor, divided by wealth and poverty, health and sickness, food and famine Is it culture, the weather, geography Perhaps ignorance of what the right policies are Simply, no None of these factors is either definitive or destiny Otherwise, how to explain why Botswana has become one of the fastest growing countries in the world, while other African nations, such as Zimbabwe, the Congo, and Sierra Leone, are mired in poverty and violence Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson conclusively show that it is man made political and economic institutions that underlie economic success or lack of it Korea, to take just one of their fascinating examples, is a remarkably homogeneous nation, yet the people of North Korea are among the poorest on earth while their brothers and sisters in South Korea are among the richest The south forged a society that created incentives, rewarded innovation, and allowed everyone to participate in economic opportunities The economic success thus spurred was sustained because the government became accountable and responsive to citizens and the great mass of people Sadly, the people of the north have endured decades of famine, political repression, and very different economic institutions with no end in sight The differences between the Koreas is due to the politics that created these completely different institutional trajectories Based on fifteen years of original research Acemoglu and Robinson marshall extraordinary historical evidence from the Roman Empire, the Mayan city states, medieval Venice, the Soviet Union, Latin America, England, Europe, the United States, and Africa to build a new theory of political economy with great relevance for the big questions of today, including China has built an authoritarian growth machine Will it continue to grow at such high speed and overwhelm the West Are America s best days behind it Are we moving from a virtuous circle in which efforts by elites to aggrandize power are resisted to a vicious one that enriches and empowers a small minority What is the most effective way to help move billions of people from the rut of poverty to prosperity More philanthropy from the wealthy nations of the West Or learning the hard won lessons of Acemoglu and Robinson s breakthrough ideas on the interplay between inclusive political and economic institutions Why Nations Fail will change the way you look at and understand the world [EPUB] ✼ The End (The 30-Day Collective Book 1) ✿ Ellen A. Easton – 9facts.co.uk Why Nations Fail answers the question that has stumped the experts for centuries Why are some nations rich and others poor ➽ [Download] ✤ The Light Over London By Julia Kelly ➲ – 9facts.co.uk divided by wealth and poverty [Ebook] ➣ Cell By Robin Cook – 9facts.co.uk health and sickness ❰Download❯ ➺ Braving the Wilderness Author Brené Brown – 9facts.co.uk food and famine Is it culture [Ebook] ➣ Lightning / Midnight / The Bad Place By Dean Koontz – 9facts.co.uk the weather ❴Read❵ ➳ A Cidade Das Trevas (Dean Koontzs Frankenstein, Author Dean Koontz – 9facts.co.uk geography Perhaps ignorance of what the right policies are Simply [BOOKS] ⚣ Iron Council (New Crobuzon, By China Miéville – 9facts.co.uk no None of these factors is either definitive or destiny Otherwise [KINDLE] ❅ Big Magic By Elizabeth Gilbert – 9facts.co.uk how to explain why Botswana has become one of the fastest growing countries in the world [BOOKS] ✭ Bloody Acquisitions (Fred, the Vampire Accountant, By Drew Hayes – 9facts.co.uk while other African nations ❁ [EPUB] ✹ Dangerous By Amanda Quick ➚ – 9facts.co.uk such as Zimbabwe [Read] ➬ Succeed and Grow Rich through Persuasion Author Napoleon Hill – 9facts.co.uk the Congo ➺ [Reading] ➼ Agile Software Requirements By Dean Leffingwell ➯ – 9facts.co.uk and Sierra Leone ➠ [Epub] ➚ The Last Kids on Earth By Max Brallier ➪ – 9facts.co.uk are mired in poverty and violence Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson conclusively show that it is man made political and economic institutions that underlie economic success or lack of it Korea ❴Epub❵ ➞ Fusiliers Author Mark Urban – 9facts.co.uk to take just one of their fascinating examples ✈ [PDF / Epub] ✅ The Martian By Andy Weir ✸ – 9facts.co.uk is a remarkably homogeneous nation [Download] ➹ Tarot for Magical Times ➾ Rachel Pollack – 9facts.co.uk yet the people of North Korea are among the poorest on earth while their brothers and sisters in South Korea are among the richest The south forged a society that created incentives [EPUB] ✸ The Maze at Windermere By Gregory Blake Smith – 9facts.co.uk rewarded innovation ❮PDF / Epub❯ ☉ Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs ✩ Author Lisa Randall – 9facts.co.uk and allowed everyone to participate in economic opportunities The economic success thus spurred was sustained because the government became accountable and responsive to citizens and the great mass of people Sadly ❰KINDLE❯ ✽ The American Nurse Author Carolyn Jones – 9facts.co.uk the people of the north have endured decades of famine ❮Epub❯ ➚ The Life Project Author Helen Pearson – 9facts.co.uk political repression [Read] ➲ The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon By Brad Stone – 9facts.co.uk and very different economic institutions with no end in sight The differences between the Koreas is due to the politics that created these completely different institutional trajectories Based on fifteen years of original research Acemoglu and Robinson marshall extraordinary historical evidence from the Roman Empire ➶ [Reading] ➸ Dangerous Desire By Diane Escalera ➫ – 9facts.co.uk the Mayan city states [PDF / Epub] ☃ Dangerous Heat By Diane Escalera – 9facts.co.uk medieval Venice ❴PDF / Epub❵ ☉ Linemates Author D.K. Dunn – 9facts.co.uk the Soviet Union ❰BOOKS❯ ✸ Millennial Hospitality Author Charles James Hall – 9facts.co.uk Latin America ❤ The Little Book of Puns pdf ⚣ Author Alison Westwood – 9facts.co.uk England [Download] ➹ Silencing the Birds of Darkness By D.K. Olukoya – 9facts.co.uk Europe [KINDLE] ❀ Birds, Beasts, and Bandits By Krupakar – 9facts.co.uk the United States ❰PDF / Epub❯ ☀ The Tainted Sword (The Penhaligon Trilogy, Author D.J. Heinrich – 9facts.co.uk and Africa to build a new theory of political economy with great relevance for the big questions of today ❰Download❯ ➻ Famouz Author Anton Corbijn – 9facts.co.uk including China has built an authoritarian growth machine Will it continue to grow at such high speed and overwhelm the West Are America s best days behind it Are we moving from a virtuous circle in which efforts by elites to aggrandize power are resisted to a vicious one that enriches and empowers a small minority What is the most effective way to help move billions of people from the rut of poverty to prosperity More philanthropy from the wealthy nations of the West Or learning the hard won lessons of Acemoglu and Robinson s breakthrough ideas on the interplay between inclusive political and economic institutions Why Nations Fail will change the way you look at and understand the world


About the Author: Daron Acemoğlu

Daron Acemoglu is the Elizabeth and James Killian Professor of Economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology In 2005 he won the prestigious John Bates Clark medal, awarded to the best economist under 40.