Commenter Ted takes issue with my pro-protectionist argument.
So, let me say that if I were advising a developing country, I would have them be protectionist in a heartbeat. Only, protectionism w/ tariffs is suicide, b/c these countries really, really need market access -- that might be the most important variable in all of economics. A much smarter way is with capital controls, an undervalued peg, and an umbrella of Treasuries one can deploy on a rainy day. Nobody has ever won a WTO case stemming from an undervalued peg. (Who's to say it's undervalued? Who's to say China shouldn't hold $2 trillion in Treasuries?)
Anyway -- here's a trivia question for blog readers/Ted: Name three countries that got rich on free trade.
Keep in mind Hong Kong doesn't count here -- when Hong Kong got rich, it had an effective monopoly on the opium/tea trade between southern China and the rest of the world.
Here's a random thought: Meiji Japan has got to be the most under-studied (at least by economists) Development Policy case-study there is... Which is odd, b/c that's also the most successful development example there's ever been. I'm going to go sit in on a Macro Development course on monday, and I'd be willing to bet my lunch money there will be nothing about Meiji Japan. Hell, I'd be willing to be my lunch money there won't even be anything historical on the syllabus, which i can't see, b/c this prof is still stuck with the cultural norms of a decade in which it was not expected, as a professional courtesy, to put your effing syllabus on-line before the semester starts! But I digress. The original "Men of Meiji" had the Midas touch -- everything they touched turned to gold (Korea, Manchuria, Formosa...)