Erik S. Reinert

Norwegian economist born in 1949. He holds a Bachelor's degree in Economics from St. Gallen University in Switzerland and a Master's degree in Public Administration from Harvard University and a PhD in Economics from Cornell University in New York, is a professor of Technology Governance and Development Strategies at Tallinn University of Technology, and the founder and chairman of the “Other Canon Foundation”, a network for heterodox economic research.

Prof. Reinert research interests and publications focus around the theory of uneven development, the history of economic thought and policy, and the role of the state in the process of economic development. His writings are characterized by a critique for mainstream and classical economic theories, and they have aroused much debate.

His book “How Rich Countries Got Rich, and Why Poor Countries Stay Poor” which was published in 2007 received much attention in economic and academic circles, especially as it appeared as the global economic crisis was unfolding. The book won the Myrdal Prize in economics and the Norwegian Selvaag Prize, both in 2008. Despite the attention, the book remains controversial.

Contrary to the dictum of the dominant neo-classical economic theory, the book shows how rich countries developed through a combination of government intervention, protectionism, and strategic investment rather than through free trade. In this context, Reinert writes; “when our leaders lecture poor countries on the right path to riches they do so in almost perfect ignorance of the fact that our economies were founded on protectionism long before they could afford the luxury of free trade”. In the same context, Reinert argues how self-regulating markets (free market economy) are not the best answer to hopes for a more prosperous world.

Even a review from the orthodox economic outlook of the Daily Telegraph concurred that “the neo-liberal 'Washington Consensus' that prevails today in the World Bank, the IMF and the US State Department ignores history and tells agrarian Third World states they must give way to trade liberalisation, deregulation and unrestricted inward investment, and that they can prosper simply by making themselves efficient at selling their natural resources and produce at world market prices. All this, says Reinert, is based on wilfully unrealistic economic assumptions combined with a large measure of rich-world self-interest, whose effect is to keep poor countries poor and uncompetitive, and to widen the divide between “them and us”.

In describing the book and the writer, the Financial Times says that Rainert: “is fighting an intellectual war with neo-classical economics, the academic orthodoxy since the 19th”. And unlike much of opponents contemporary globalisation, it is a serious book by a serious writer that deserves to be read”.

In December 2018, Prof. Reinert will deliver the Tenth “Yusif Sayigh Development Lecture”, organized annually by the Palestinian Economic Policy Research Institute (MAS) in Ramallah. Prof. Reinert will address “Economic Development: Lessons from the Cold War".

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