"How China rejected neoliberal orthodoxy and became the new workshop of the world. Dan interviews economist Isabella Weber on her book How China Escaped Shock Therapy: The Market Reform Debate. "
Isabella seems to be on a road show for her book, since she also was just recently interviewed by Doug Henwood.
I found both interviews extremely interesting and learned a fair bit about the economics of price controls as well as history while listening to them.
One nice piece for instance is where she compares the US price controls during WW2 with China’s during the civil war.
The US had a highly concentrated industry, meaning that price controls were really just a negotiation with a few industry leaders. "It is really easy to fix prices that were already fixed " in this case by big conglomerates. The price fixing just avoided windfall profits given the bumped up demand due to the war. “Windfall” in this case because the supply of e.g. steel wouldn’t have been able to keep up with the demand anyway (can’t increase steel production over night) and the price fixing simply meant that the producers couldn’t reap those “accidental” windfall profits that would have been available to them otherwise.
In comparison, the Chinese economy was a lot more agricultural and fragmented, meaning that price controls met a market that was much more fluid. Basic links of production were disturbed in the context of the civil war already (unlike in the US). Supply of goods were already erratic and the prices were extremely volatile, as a result of the civil war. Price fixes were therefore not effective in coordinating production in the same way as they were in the US.
She also contrasts this with the increase of lumber prices that we saw last year and this.
All in all very insightful and highly recommended.
Doug’s interview is a bit shorter than Daniel’s. So perhaps that’s the better place to start for some. However she explores the topic in a bit more detail in The Dig, so hence the main link goes there.