Bottom Line: Unfettered Capitalism is Destructive, Need Government,
Although I was less interested in the history, which is very well documented and clearly explained, and more in the lessons for the future, I found two clear bottom lines in this book that are supported by its extensive research:
1) Open societies and open democracies generate more money and more opportunity and more innovation than closed or failed societies; and
2) Keynes was right, there is an urgent vital role for government to play in addressing the social networks, including education, transportation, rules of commerce, and so on, that allow capitalism to work.
The author distinguishes between individual, cooperative, and competitive capitalism, and I found validation in this book for my concept of communal capitalism, a capitalism that is guided by government in avoiding the exportation of jobs, the importation of poverty, and the impoverishment of the middle class.
Unlike David Walsh’s book, this book has more of a focus on what is moral and pragmatic, and so I recommend William Greider’s “The Soul of Capitalism” as well as John Perkins “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man.”
I have a very strong feeling from this book and others, that the era of “out of control” capitalism is drawing to an end. We may even see the end of the corporation as a separate legal personality in the next 12 years. The transparency of information that is available when people attach themselves leech-like to a corporation and hold it accountable (see my review of “No Logo”) is creating a powerful antidote against the Enrons and Exxons and Wal-Marts of the world who bribe elites and screw over the publics on both ends. I also see Wall Street losing its ability to “explode the client” (see my review of “Liar’s Poker”). A great deal of good will be done in the next quarter century, and it will come from a combination of good government and educated engaged citizens working together across all boundaries.