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Cowboy Capitalism: European Myths, American Reality Hardcover – August 25, 2004


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 212 pages
  • Publisher: Cato Institute (August 25, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1930865627
  • ISBN-13: 978-1930865624
  • Product Dimensions: 0.9 x 6.3 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,272,233 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

"This is a comprehensive, indeed truly encyclopedic, comparison of economic conditions and policies in the United States with those in Germany, France, and Italy. Gersemann, a German journalist based in the United States, provides detailed evidence to support his devastating rejection of common European fallacies about the American economy. A real treasure trove of thoughtful analysis." —MILTON FRIEDMAN, Nobel Laureate in Economics

"Citizens in all Western democracies want to provide more publicly financed welfare than they are willing, privately, to finance by taxes. The result is sluggish economies. In Old Europe the crisis is more acute than in the United States. This book documents the dramatic differences and stresses the proclivity of Europeans to denigrate the American experience rather than to acknowledge their own plight." —JAMES M. BUCHANAN, Nobel Laureate in Economics

"Gersemann pulls no punches in debunking prevalent European myths about the American economy. But Cowboy Capitalism is not about trumpeting American superiority; it’s about helping Western European countries achieve the robust growth and job creation their citizens deserve." —HENRY M. PAULSON JR., Chairman and CEO, Goldman Sachs Group

"This book offers an excellent comparison of U.S. capitalism with the ‘social’ model of Germany, France, and Italy. It is also a penetrating study of anti-market propaganda. Olaf Gersemann shows that the features of the American model that are attacked most by European critics from both left and right are those which continental Europe actually needs in order to overcome the social problems of high unemployment and to make the European economy more dynamic and competitive. The book displays a rare combination of clarity, passion, and moderation. I highly recommend that this book be widely read on both sides of the Atlantic." —LESZEK BALCEROWICZ, Former Finance Minister of Poland

"Gersemann combines the accuracy and incisiveness of a scholar with the verve and wit of the best kind of journalist. His readers will be fascinated from the beginning and enlightened by the end." —STEVEN LANDSBURG, author of The Armchair Economist

From the Back Cover

"This is a comprehensive, indeed truly encyclopedic, comparison of economic conditions and policies in the United States with those in Germany, France, and Italy. Gersemann, a German journalist based in the United States, provides detailed evidence to support his devastating rejection of common European fallacies about the American economy. A real treasure trove of thoughtful analysis."

--Milton Friedman, Nobel Laureate in Economics

"Citizens in all Western democracies want to provide more publicly financed welfare than they are willing, privately, to finance by taxes. The result is sluggish economies. In Old Europe the crisis is more acute than in the United States. This book documents the dramatic differences and stresses the proclivity of Europeans to denigrate the American experience rather than to acknowledge their own plight."

--James M. Buchanan, Nobel Laureate in Economics

"For those experiencing angst about the U.S. economy, Cowboy Capitalism provides all the salve needed. Author Olaf Gersemann compares the 'comfy capitalism' of Europe with the U.S. brand and declares Uncle Sam the hands-down winner."

--U.S. News & World Report

"Gersemann pulls no punches in debunking prevalent European myths about the American economy. But Cowboy Capitalism is not about trumpeting American superiority; it’s about helping Western European countries achieve the robust growth and job creation their citizens deserve."

--Henry M. Paulson, Jr, Chairman and CEO, Goldman Sachs Group

"This book offers an excellent comparison of U.S. capitalism with the 'social' model of Germany, France, and Italy. It is also a penetrating study of anti-market propaganda. Olaf Gersemann shows that the features of the American model that are attacked most by European critics from both left and right are those which continental Europe actually needs in order to overcome the social problem of high unemployment and to make the European economy more dynamic and competitive. The book displays a rare combination of clarity, passion, and moderation. I highly recommend that this book be widely read on both sides of the Atlantic."

--Leszek Balcerowicz, Former Finance Minister of Poland

"Gersemann combines the accuracy and incisiveness of a scholar with the verve and wit of the best kind of journalist. His readers will be fascinated from the beginning and enlightened by the end."

--Steven Landsburg, author of The Armchair Economist


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Customer Reviews

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The is an excellent, easy to read book that should be required reading for all high school students.
Andrew R. Dejoseph
Capitalists will admire the level of precision with which Gersemann destroys the arguments of those opposed to the American system of capitalism.
Monty Rainey
In conclusion, the facts stated by this book are all true, but the conclusions they point to are not.
Newton Ooi

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

51 of 55 people found the following review helpful By Monty Rainey VINE VOICE on January 13, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This book shatters any doubt that a free-market system is far superior to government regulations when it comes to maintaining a healthy economy. Capitalists will admire the level of precision with which Gersemann destroys the arguments of those opposed to the American system of capitalism.

Detractors who favor the European system (at least those with the intellectual ability to do so) will concede to the error of this thinking. The book is comprised of short narratives followed up by indepth explanations with which the author incessantly debunks myth after myth of the European view of American capitalism ranging from second jobs to taxation.

Gersemann's writing will appeal to both the economic layman and the economic scholar. The layman will be endowed with a newfound knowledge of economics while the economist will be delighted with the statistical analysis that will challenge the wits of the most overeducated of peers.

As great as all this is, I must mention the absolute icing on the cake of this fine book. Cowboy Capitalism will surely prove a means of holding accountable those politicians who, destructively as one must conclude after reading this book, seek to transform our system of free market into a mirror of European government intervention.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By M. Strong on April 19, 2006
Format: Paperback
The big three continental European economies - Germany, France and Italy - often look at the US free-market economic system with scorn. They see it as brutal and inhumane and refer to it derisively as "Cowboy Capitalism." Olaf Gerssemann is a German reporter who decided to look into the facts and truly compare the old-line economies of Europe to the United States' economy. What he finds out is just as instructive for Americans as it is for any European.

We as Americans hear a lot about the troubles and problems in our country. We hear plenty about layoffs and about corporate greed and corruption. There's probably something healthy about that - it certainly keeps us from getting complacent. However, we hear surprisingly little about how much is going right in our country and in our economy, perhaps because it's so obvious. But the obvious is most easily missed because it goes unnoticed.

That is where this book shines. Gersemann took no propoganda for granted. He did what few of us have the time or inclination to do - went and looked up the facts and found out the truth for himself. What he found is that on almost every economic front on which the Europeans (and many Americans) tend to slam this country and its economy, the United States far execeeded its European counterparts in terms of providing for its citizens. As he shows repeatedly, this doesn't just mean the wealthiest citizens either.

Gersemann covers employment, quality of employment, safety of employment, ability to find a new job when unemployed, wealth creation, education, health care and more. The results are really important for Americans to know. If more people would read this book, we couldn't be so easily deceived by politicians playing on our fears to push their own agendas.

Highly recommended.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Andrew R. Dejoseph on May 3, 2005
Format: Hardcover
The is an excellent, easy to read book that should be required reading for all high school students. I'm really surprised that this book doesn't seem to be getting more notice in the media. I'm a political junkie, subscribe to 8 political journals, and in the process read a lot of economics. My political views were more socialist when I graduated from college, but got more moderate as I kept doing my homework. When I got done reading this book, it gave me a full belief in the superiority of the capitalistic system, and I voted Republican for the first time in my life. In the book, the author goes through all of the most pertienent economic issues, comparing and contrasting the American and European Systems, and does an incredible job showing the superiority of the American one.
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24 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on November 8, 2004
Format: Hardcover
German reporter Olaf Gersemann examines common misperceptions of the American economy in Cowboy Capitalism, providing a survey of the continental econ-omies of Europe versus the United States and examining common myths and realities on both sides of the world. His survey reveals a variety of myths many Europeans believe about Americans and their economy, discussing the realities underlying the rumors. An excellent survey most valuable for its expose of European common sentiments about the U.S.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By J. F. Laurson on April 20, 2007
Format: Paperback
It is surprising that "Cowboy Capitalism", recommended by two nobel laureates (the late Friedman and Buchanan), would be accused of propaganda by a critical voice (Newton Ooi, below) who first proceeded to point out that all the facts it presents are true. "Cowboy Capitlism" has an agenda, of course - an agenda to show through the raw numbers that European (or NYTimes readers') perceptions of the two economic systems of central Europe and the US are skewed... that there is more to the differences and the benefits/detriments that each system offers, than is popularily acknowledged. Fear and suspicions (and lack of knowledge) are the cause of this - rather than facts. This book pokes fun at the former by trying to reveal the latter.

In doing so, CC is actually rather fair. It does not pretend that the European economic system is per se inferior to the US System. In fact, there were times in which it was rather superior. (Times of great economic stability had Germany, for example, grow its economy at a pace well above that of the US. Or healthcare - where Europe admittedly piggy-bag rides on US consumers' expenses, but which Gersemann has no probolem stating is a matter of preference, not "better" or "worse".)

Anyway... to look at the criticism listed below:

Home Ownership: The argument that because of higher population density, home ownership would *naturally* be less ("less land to build on") is completely ludicrous. What would follow that argument would be mass-homelessness, not low ownership rates. People in Europe still live in places... the question is: why don't they own? Apartments count, too, you know! (Density contributes to homes being more affordable - which is one of the reasons. Red tape making ownership more difficult is another.
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