Capitalist Development and Economism in East Asia: The Rise of Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, and South Korea

By Kui-Wai Li | Go to book overview

10

Asia is no miracle

10.1Economism: the emerging paradigm

There are no miracles in the four East Asian economies, but they have adopted a paradigm that sets economic growth as the goal of their society. Emphasis has been given not to income equality, but rather to reduction in poverty and efforts to make available as many equal opportunities as possible. Whereas private investment has concentrated on output and capacity expansion, social investment has concentrated on infrastructure and capital that either helped to increase output capacity further or was favorable to the expansion of future productivity. Handsome social welfare provisions are not available, but a “survival” net has been assured. Entrepreneurial and hard-working efforts are treasured, while reliance on social welfare by individuals is discouraged. The government plays an active, but often indirect, role. It provides “fertilizers” as encouragement or incentives for individuals and business organizations to progress. The higher the degree of economic progress, the more active the business sector will be and the resultant rise in employment will, on the one hand, alleviate the need for welfare and, on the other hand, enlarge the government revenue pie. An effective and sound system for the rule of law has permitted the private sector to generate as many business and economic opportunities as possible.

The pro-business domestic environment has been rewarded by the continuous inflow of foreign capital that has expanded domestic output, export, and income. The export-oriented nature of the economy has enabled it to float according to world demand and change with the global economy. The expansion in the industrial sector soon spread to the banking sector. Monetary transactions aided the development of the financial centers, which, in turn, led to the development of modern services. The economy moved from one to a multiple number of virtuous circles. Economic development and growth has thus accumulated over a number of decades, thereby moving the four East Asian economies from the status of developing economies to industrialized, matured, and advanced economies. Their income has even caught up and surpassed some developed countries.

The political regimes in these economies are pro-business and pro-growth. Economic freedom is regarded as the fundamental issue. Economic well-being,

-260-

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Capitalist Development and Economism in East Asia: The Rise of Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, and South Korea
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page vii
  • Contents xi
  • Figures xii
  • Tables xiii
  • Preface xvii
  • 1 - Economism and Development 1
  • 2 - The Expansion of the East Asian Economic Pie 20
  • 3 - Growth, Inequality, and the Survival Cost 53
  • 4 - Economic Fertilizer and the Government 80
  • 5 - The External Dimension 112
  • 6 - The Law of First Opportunity in Economic Growth 150
  • 7 - Economism and Political Regimes 177
  • 8 - The Asian Financial Crisis 200
  • 9 - A Challenge to Economism 229
  • 10 - Asia is No Miracle 260
  • Notes 268
  • Bibliography 272
  • Index 297
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