From Publishers Weekly
Olson, whose Logic of Collective Action stands as a landmark work of political economy, died in 1998 before putting the finishing touches on this book. As it stands, it serves as an appropriate coda to Olson's long and productive career, summarizing his major achievements while still contributing new insights to the post-communist debates. As he grapples with the forces that undermine economic vitality, Olson worries over a central question: Why has economic performance been so much better after the defeat of fascism in Germany and Japan than after the collapse of communism in Soviet-style states? In probing this question, Olson examines the complex relationships between the role of the state and economic performance, arguing that "there is no way of explaining the extreme poverty of many nations without taking account of the extent to which they are misgoverned." The lay reader will easily grasp Olson's broad and practical--if not especially vivid--discussions, and specialists will value his excellent analyses of the economic machinations of Soviet-type autocracies, including a fine reading of Stalin's diabolical manipulation of Russia's tax structures. As the world attempts to salvage what's left of the post-communist economies, it must contend with disablingly high rates of inflation and inefficient, state-owned businesses. The challenge ahead is not merely to hasten privatization, Olson says. Instead, economists must work to ensure that a "market-augmenting government" first secures individual rights to private property and guarantees the impartial enforcement of contracts--in his view the two essential ingredients for prosperity. (Mar.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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"Power and Prosperity is an important book, written with clarity and verve. It is a great misfortune that Mancur Olson is not here to respond to the debates that it will surely provoke." The Wall Street Journal