- A brief overview of the past, present, and future of capitalism by a Serbian-born and formerly World Bank-employed CUNY professor Branko Milanović, who specializes in income inequality.
- Some parts hit closer to home than others, most of all the idea that you can have a welfare state, and you can have open borders, but that mixing the two is ill-advised. I am also well-acquainted with America’s indirect and informal immigrant tax, a version of which Milanović proposes as one of the solutions to the welfare/immigration dilemma. I am not a fan.
- His big insight before this book was the elephant chart. Capitalism, Alone’s big idea is that communism may not have been the pinnacle of society that Marx and Engels had predicted, but rather a good way of transforming feudal agrarian societies into modern economies. Centralized planning and broad-stroke changes work well up to a point, but the production chains soon get too complex for communism, at which point the invisible hand steps in.
- Second big insight: corruption is hard-wired into how a particular type of capitalism (which he calls “political”, in contrast to the Western “liberal meritocratic”) operates. This is supported by many a “liberal meritocratic capitalism” city and state, their financial services and real estate markets being dependent on the “political capitalism’s” dark money.
- It was an easy read for this non-economist. Recommended.
Written by Branko Milanović, 2019