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Neoliberalism's Economic Success: Market or State-Engineering?

November 3, 2010 - 4:00 pm

Joseph Nathan Cohen, Queens College, CUNY

Neoliberal policies are widely argued to have helped developing countries prosper, and the historical record can be read as validating these claims. This study reexamines the relationship between economic growth and free market policy, as measured by the Frasier Institutes’ Economic Freedom of the World index, and finds that much previous research rests on two critical but faulty assumptions. Neoliberal policies differentiate fast- from slow-growth countries in only one period – the early 1990s – and its effects may be attributable to the considerable influx of desperately-needed foreign capital and debt relief that accrued to reformers during that period. Professor Cohen argues that freer markets are not intrinsically more prosperous, and might render little benefit apart from attracting foreign capital.

Joseph Nathan Cohen is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the City University of New York, Queens College, and the co-author of Global Capitalism (2010, Polity Press), an examination of the development, diffusion and dilemmas of neoliberalism in the late-20th century.  His research interests involve the long-term co-evolution of the modern economy, the modern state, and economic statecraft.  He earned his doctorate in 2007 from Princeton University.