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Capitalism 4.0: The Birth of a New Economy in the Aftermath of Crisis Hardcover – June 22, 2010

3.4 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


Literary Review, July 2010
“Hugely ambitious…. The overall impression is startlingly original. Kaletsky offers a genuinely new take on the credit crunch.”

The Economist, July 8, 2010
“Pedants will find plenty to quibble about in Mr Kaletsky’s analysis of the past, let alone his predictions..  But his book is full of clever insights.  For sheer intellectual chutzpah and creativity, it is well worth reading.”
Financial Times, July 18, 2010
“Provocative…. There are now many – too many – books on the credit crunch. Kaletsky’s considerable achievement is to put these events in a perspective that looks back to history and forward to an extended future, and to do so in a framework which goes far beyond a chronology of events. His book is a major contribution to the debate on the nature of the market economy that needs to follow the practical failures of market fundamentalism.”

About the Author

Anatole Kaletsky is editor-at-large of The Times of London, where he writes a column on politics, economics, and international relations. Kaletsky was a full-time journalist for The Times, Financial Times, and The Economist from 1976 until 1998 when he expanded his activities to include economic forecasting and financial consulting.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: PublicAffairs; 1 edition (June 22, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1586488716
  • ISBN-13: 978-1586488710
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.6 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #657,577 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Anatole Kaletsky's key aim is to demonstrate that modern capitalism does not break, but bend in times of "existential" crises (p. 191). Like democracy, modern capitalism has an inherent institutional and political flexibility at its core (pp. 2; 19-20; 35; 311). This evolutionary ecosystem has reinvented and reinvigorated itself through rare crises for the last 250 years (pp. 3; 26; 36-37).

Modern capitalism has more staying power than its critics on both Left and Right usually want to give it for two key reasons:

1. Capitalism has been able to overcome its own contradictions allowing it to undergo radical change (pp. 2; 5; 21; 34-35; 52-53; 82; 157; 201-208; 246; 269-270);
2. Ambition, initiative, individualism, and competitive spirit are embedded in human DNA (pp. 1-2; 20; 22; 25; 41).

Kaletsky reminds his audience that the critical distinction between crises in capitalism and crises of capitalism is often overlooked. Crises in capitalism represent what Joseph Schumpeter called the process of creative destruction through which a group of businesses and industries are reorganized through the regular economic cycles of booms and busts (p. 34). In contrast, crises of capitalism have an impact on the broader capitalist system itself, shake economic assumptions and political beliefs, and cause far-reaching changes both within and between states (pp. 37-38).

The necessary metamorphosis of the capitalist system is at its most difficult when it is close to breakdown. The interest groups that have wealth and power under the threatened existing iteration of modern capitalism defend ruthlessly the status quo under the pretext that any attempt to change their cherished system is doomed to failure (pp. 9; 22-24).
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Format: Hardcover
Capitalism 4.0 offers a useful analysis as far as it goes, but I think it completely misses the structural changes that are likely to come about as a result of accelerating technology and the dramatic impact those changes will have on the nature of capitalism. Like most of the books that deal with the financial crisis, Capitalism 4.0 has entire sections devoted to the impact of financial innovations, but absolutely nothing about the impact of technical advances in the real economy. For example the words "technology" and "automation" do not appear in the index.

Advancing technology and globalization have resulted in stagnant wages for most people in the U.S. for decades, even as housing, healthcare and education costs have been soaring. To a significant extent, the lack of wage-based income growth was probably an important driver of the housing bubble because buying a home represented the only way for average people to get ahead. Economists, including the author of this book, completely miss that connection between the bubble/financial crisis and real-world technological advance. The reality is that many of the problems being suffered by capitalism are due to a glut of labor brought on by automation technology and globalization. That reduces the bargaining power of all workers and drives down wages and consumer purchasing power.

Prior to the current crisis, average people were able to maintain consumption via credit, but those days are over and we now face a potential crisis of diminished consumer demand that could tip us into a deflationary spriral. It's important to realize that technology is continuing to accelerate. The problems that we see already will only get worse in the future.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book minces no words, and lays what really happened leading
up to the Great Depression, and how the calamity evolved. It delves
into the details of the economics, relying on historical data,
with some suprising and disturbing insights. Yet, over all, it
conveys a message of optimism. The world will not end. Capitalism
is not static; it evolves to cope with world changes. It will do
so again. This book will challange your thinking like few others.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
An excellent book on the way forward from the Credit Crunch and the collapse of market fundamentalism. Sometimes it leans a little too heavily in the Keynesian direction for my taste but, on the whole, a great attempt to develop a `mixed economy' paradigm.
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Format: Paperback
Are you worried that capitalism will be dismantled following its alleged failure during the recent financial crisis? You shouldn't worry too much because, as Anatole Kaletsky puts it, "capitalism doesn't break because it bends". Democratic capitalism has self-improvement in its DNA. In fact, capitalism has suffered and survived harrowing crises before and each time transformed into a new and better version. Anatole Kaletsky is well known in economic circles. Some know him as the "Kal" of GaveKal Capital, others as a leading columnist of the Financial Times, The Economist, The Times or Reuters. He is a global authority on matters of economics and politics and eminently suited to analysing capitalism's past and future.

Kaletsky applies the notation of computer software to the history of capitalism. The versions so far are 1, 2 and 3, each with its set of major updates labelled e.g. 3.1, 3.2 and 3.3. Roughly speaking, version 1 was the liberal free-trade epoch from Adam Smith in the late 18th century to the Great Depression of the 1930's. This was replaced by version 2 a.k.a. the Keynesian era until the stagflation of the 1970's. Then version 3 took over, with its Friedman-inspired liberalism spearheaded by Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. This latest version had reached its "market fundamentalist" update 3.3 by the time of the financial crisis of 2007-08. And here we are, stumbling into Capitalism 4.0 but still struggling to make out its shape.

What's needed now, argues Kaletsky, is not the dogmatic view of previous versions where either the market or the government were seen as the best solution to any economic problem. In our next stage of development, the pros and cons of each must be acknowledged. Capitalism 4.0 must involve a mixed economy.
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