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Cover Global Political Economy

12. Global Growth, Inequality, and Poverty:  

Power and Evidence in Global ‘Best Practice’ Economic Policy

Robert Hunter Wade

This chapter argues that economists have oversold the virtues of globalization, displaying confidence in derived policy prescriptions well beyond the evidence. The most spectacular recent demonstration of hubris is the failure of almost the whole of the mainstream economics profession in the few years before 2007–8 to forecast a major recession. The chapter then outlines the neo-liberal world view and its application in the form of the development recipe known as the Washington Consensus. Since the 1980s, the Western economic policy ‘establishment’ has espoused a doctrine of ‘best economic policy’ for the world which says, put too simply, that ‘more market and less state’ should be the direction of travel for developed and developing countries. This overarching neo-liberal ideology embraces globalization as a major component, relating to the nature of integration into the international economy. The chapter then looks at trends in world income distribution and poverty, bearing in mind the optimistic claims of the globalization argument.