For decades, development economists believed that central planning, not economic freedom, was the key to economic growth in developing countries. In 1956 Gunnar Myrdal, winner of the Nobel Prize in economics in 1974, wrote, "The special advisers to underdeveloped countries who have taken the time and trouble to acquaint themselves with the problem all recommend central planning as the first condition of progress."
While the argument that socialism is the key to growth in the developing world appears obviously unreasonable today -- given the collapse of command-and-control economies around the globe -- it was, when Myrdal wrote, the academic consensus. Only a few economists doubted such arguments and proposed alternatives.
Foremost among them was Peter Bauer, author of such classics as The Economics of Under-Developed Countries and Dissent on Development. This book contains 20 essays, many of which were originally published in the Cato Journal, and a foreword by Václav Klaus, former prime minister of the Czech Republic.
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