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

2

The expansion of the East Asian economic pie

2.1The economic perspectives of the four dragons
In the early 1970s, Japan became the first Asian country to undergo rapid economic development that astounded the world. Its success in the commercialization of technology in household goods led to a prolonged period of trade surplus. By the late 1970s, however, world attention had shifted to the four rapidly emerging, newly industrializing East Asian economies (NIEs) of Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, and Taiwan. The extent and pace of industrialization in these four economies threatened the industrialized world with a sizeable level of exports, even when protectionist trade policies were imposed (see, for example, Balassa 1980; 1981; McMullen 1982; Turner and McMullen 1982). The developmental experience of the four East Asian economies is diverse, and each displays a different set of basic characteristics, briefly summarized as follows:
Hong Kong: gradually integrated into the Chinese hinterland economy; traditionally laissez faire and service-based.
Singapore: city-state economy, heavily dependent on foreign multinational capital; state activist and free-trade tradition.
Taiwan: strong small and medium-sized enterprise-based domestic economy; dependent on international subcontracting networks.
South Korea: domestic oligopoly-dominated economy; manufacturing-based, strong state influences, neo-mercantilist, and nationalistic economic tradition.

Various theories have been used to study and explain the economic success of the four East Asian economies. Classical economic theories, such as laissezfaire and comparative advantage, have been extensively applied to East Asia, especially Hong Kong (see, for example, Smith 1966; Owen 1971; Rabushka 1979; Chow and Papanek 1981; Schiffer 1983; Young 1989). In growth theories, Birdsall et al. (1995) have noted the importance of growth and education, resulting in a decline in income inequality. Page (1994) and Leipziger and Thomas (1994) raised the importance of capital accumulation and appropriate macroeconomic policies, and pointed out that the success of Hong Kong,

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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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