Journal Issue

Books in brief

International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.
Published Date:
January 1993
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Helen Hughes (editor)

The Dangers of Export Pessimism Developing Countries and Industrial Markets

International Center for Economic Growth, San Francisco, CA, USA, 1992, ix + 446 pp., $14.95.

Former World Bank official, now professor and executive director of the National Centre for Development Studies at the Australian National University in Canberra, Hughes has pulled together, as editor, twelve case studies on individual developing countries and five papers with a wider orientation, nearly all by researchers from developing countries. The topics differ considerably from one study to the next. The book is well named, however, since a common thread is the potential for expanding manufactured exports. Countries whose decisionmakers have recognized the possibilities have generally done well, while export pessimism has indeed proved dangerous and unjustified.

Unfortunately, the papers are by now years out of date, with the latest trade data for 1987 or earlier. Six of the country studies focus on Asian success story countries—China, Indonesia, Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand—while the rest look at countries not considered an export success, though many have now become so—Argentina, Colombia, India, Mexico, Papua New Guinea, and the Philippines. The subjects and approaches vary widely, ranging from garment and textile exports (Thailand), to the role of the government in export success (Singapore), to growth of non-oil exports (Indonesia). None of the papers, however, goes significantly below the surface into the nuts and bolts of the policy instruments, detailed reforms, and institutional innovations actually used in the successful countries. Instead, trade patterns and country features tend to dominate the story told in most of the studies, often to a fault.

John Letiche (editor)

International Economic Policies and Their Theoretical Foundations

A Sourcebook

Academic Press, San Diego, CA, USA, 1992, xl + 988 pp., $55.

This book, made up of a collection of articles, is intended to provide students and policymakers with both theoretical and practical insights into the workings of the international economy. It is ten years since the first edition hit the streets and, as the preface notes, much has changed in the international order. Gone are the many vestiges of planned economies, large trading blocs are forming, and the pendulum is swinging back in favor of more managed exchange rate regimes. The latest edition seeks to address some of these and other changes by including 16 new chapters and providing updates on many of the original articles in the book. Some readers will perhaps find, however, that rather more editorial discretion could have been used: a case could certainly be made for scrapping several chapters that primarily describe out-of-date forecasts for expected world developments in decades past. Nevertheless, for those chapters dealing with fundamental economic principles or containing classic essays on the evolution of the international order, the new edition will continue to be a useful sourcebook.

Credits: Cover art and art on pages 2,4, and 36: Mark Robinson. Art on page 7: Robert Frederick; pages 18,19, 21, and 33: Lew Azzinaro; pages 24,41, 44, and 45: Luisa Watson; page 28: Dale Glasgow. Charts: Dale Glasgow and Luisa Watson. Drawing on page 42: Philip Torsani; IMF photos: Denio Zara and Padraic Hughes-Reid. Bank photos: M. Iannacci.

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