From Publishers Weekly
Rajan and Zingales take the Chicago school of economic theory in a new direction with an erudite, comprehensive defense of the free market system, steering a course between conservative isolationists and liberal antiglobalizationists. Only unfettered markets, rather than protectionism, they argue, can provide an environment supporting competition, innovation and economic growth. When businesses suffer losses or fail completely, it means competition is successfully weeding out the incapable-and the authors have nothing but harsh words for governmental attempts to prop up sagging industries through subsidies or tariffs on foreign competitors. They're honest in acknowledging that their "tough break" approach to failure offers little consolation to downsized laborers, but gamely suggest the economically "distressed" should recognize their options and look beyond obfuscating corporate rhetoric about "saving jobs." The book draws strong historical parallels between the half-century market clampdown following the Great Depression, when the public recoiled at the consequences of unmanaged economic risk, and the pessimism fostered by recent high-profile failures and corporate excesses. Because the authors view political support for the free market system as always tenuous, they offer suggestions on how to combat antimarket sentiments by promoting a stronger international market, which would reduce the ability of economic "incumbents" to persuade governments to suppress competition while offering workers some protection against the risks of failure. They argue their case well (though general readers may find some of the more academic passages tough going) and provide a clear new definition for the terms of the free market debate.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
The authors, both professors of finance at the University of Chicago's graduate school of business, take an in-depth look at the advantages and shortcomings of free financial systems in a historical context. They argue that although free markets are often reviled, especially during economic downturns, the inherent risks involved and the propensity for some individuals and corporations to corrupt the system can be overcome somewhat. When markets are suppressed, as happened after the Great Depression, competition is stifled, and trade tariffs that are intended to benefit individual nations ultimately harm worldwide economic health. What role, then, should governments play in overseeing financial markets? Historically, so the authors show, respect for individual property rights is the essential first step, and when property is available to the widest classes of people who can actively manage it, the groundwork for free financial trading is laid. For advanced financial systems such as that found in the U.S., the authors propose a balanced approach of government participation, including both measures to provide incentives for free markets and insurance for safety during times of crisis. David SiegfriedCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved