Item description for A Political Economy of Lebanon, 1948-2002: The Limits of Laissez-Faire (Social, Economic and Political Studies of the Middle East and Asia) by Toufic K. Gaspard...
This book is about the laissez-faire strategy for economic development, a strategy inspired by neoclassical/mainstream economics, advocated by the "Washington Consensus", and implemented by the Bretton Woods institutions.
Mainstream economics has taken legitimacy from the historical failure of command economies. But this view has not been balanced by an examination of the performance of laissez-faire economies, the closest to the pure market model. Lebanon provides a unique test case in this regard.
The book assesses Lebanons development during 1948-2002, including its industrial and financial performance. The dynamics of the laissez-faire system is separately studied from a Post-Keynesian perspective, highlighting institutional behavior. It is found that laissez-faire is not a sufficient condition for economic development, and can even be counterproductive.
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This might be the cure to Lebanon's economy, and perhaps all other Arab countries Jul 17, 2005
Toufic Gaspard's A Political Economy of Lebanon 1948-2002 is a masterpiece analysis on political economy and development in Lebanon. This thoroughly researched work enriched by Gaspard's long experience in economics has yet to be matched in the field. Gaspard offers an alternative perspective on the weakness of the Lebanese Economy saying that this weakness has more to do with the economic and political structure of the nation rather than mere government policies. According to Gaspard, Lebanon's founding fathers based their young nation on the ideology of laissez faire economy, which despite displaying some positive figures in the past, was inherently weak and doomed to collapse sooner or later. Instead, Gaspard said that the instances that witnessed strong economic performance in Lebanon should have been invested in developing the industrial sector that would in turn create skilled labor as opposed to the country's current semi-skilled and unskilled laborers at the time the skilled among them emigrate. Gaspard argues that Lebanon witnessed some favorable instance in history were it was possible to move to industrialization: During the late 19th century when an inflow of French capital invested in the country's then booming textile industry that later demised and during the years of WWII and later the Korean crisis when the shortage in Western imports and capital follow into the country for the support of allied troops and other purposes put Lebanon in favorable situation to industrialize. Such models where tested in Asian countries known later as Asian Tigers after they scored remarkable economic development in post-industrialization periods. Yet Lebanon's founders and successive governments never allowed this option to crystallize and preferred, time and gain, the laissez faire model which ultimately proved its failure. The book's introduction is particularly enlightening as it compares the different schools of world economies saying that mere fact that the United States economy displayed strength in the 1990s is not enough to prove that laissez faire economies lead to better economic development. He believes that time would later tell whether this model was successful or not and whether the world needs to reconsider some form of government intervention in planning their nations' economies.