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The End of Laissez-Faire: National Purpose and the Global Economy After the Cold War

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ISBN-13: 978-0812214017
ISBN-10: 0812214013
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The collapse of communism and the end of the Cold War--far from signalling a victory for unbridled free-market capitalism--portend the end of laissez-faire economics. That's the provocative thesis of Kuttner's sweeping, important reassessment of America's economy and its place in the newly emerging world order. For a quarter-century after WW II, he argues, the U.S. practiced a mixed brand of capitalism, with much of the national planning done under military auspices. Meanwhile, the U.S. preached laissez-faire, since it was the country best positioned to exploit open global markets. A Business Week columnist and economic correspondent for the New Republic, Kuttner urges a "policy of planning" to reclaim America's industrial leadership, plus a global system of collective security instead of an East-West arms race in which the U.S. acts as free world super-cop. This closely argued book administers a potent dose of economic reality.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"Kuttner's intellectual candor and vigorous literary pitch are above reproach. . . . The book deconstructs splendidly the incoherencies and hypocrisies embedded in U.S. trade policies."—Wall Street Journal

"The best in economic journalism combines high professional economic competence, good clear writing, and a decently compassionate point of view. Robert Kuttner scores high on all these counts, as The End of Laissez-Faire admirably reveals."—John Kenneth Galbraith

"The richly detailed evidence Kuttner assembled will have to be taken into account by anyone assessing the present state of the world economy."—New York Times

"A detailed and persuasive analysis."—Kirkus Reviews

"Crisp and clear, admirably explicating the tactical consequences of esoteric economic theories and the history of the postwar international trading system."—San Francisco Chronicle

"Robert Kuttner is one of the three or four best social analysts in the United States. He writes with force and clarity, out of strongly humane and moral convictions. His work keeps getting better and better, and I admire this book immensely."—Irving Howe

"The mass media may tout the triumph of laissez-faire capitalism, but the smart observer knows that different trends are under way. . . . If American capitalism is to prosper, we will have to understand the argument and heed the recommendations in The End of Laissez-Faire."—Lester Thurow

"Reasoned and provocative, The End of Laissez-Faire may well change the terms of the debate about America's policies in the post-Cold War period. . . . A refreshing reminder of the need for both vision and pragmatism."—Mario Cuomo

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: University of Pennsylvania Press (February 1, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812214013
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812214017
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,392,523 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Robert Kuttner is cofounder and coeditor of The American Prospect magazine, as well as a
Distinguished Senior Fellow of the think tank Demos. He was a longtime columnist for
BusinessWeek, and continues to write columns in the Boston Globe.
His previous and widely praised books include The Squandering of America: How the Failure
of Our Politics Undermines Our Prosperity; Everything for Sale: The Virtues and Limits of
Markets (about which Robert Heilbroner wrote, "I have never seen the market system better
described, more intelligently appreciated, or more trenchantly criticized than in Everything for
Sale"); The End of Laissez-Faire: National Purpose and the Global Economy After the Cold
War; and The Economic Illusion: False Choices Between Prosperity and Social Justice.
Kuttner"s magazine writing has appeared in The New York Times Magazine and Book Review,
The Atlantic, The New Republic, The New Yorker, Dissent,
Columbia Journalism Review, and Harvard Business Review. He has contributed
major articles to The New England Journal of Medicine as a national policy correspondent.
Formerly an assistant to the legendary I.F. Stone, chief investigator for the Senate Banking Committee, Washington Post staff writer, economics
editor for The New Republic, and university lecturer, Kuttner"s decades-long intellectual and political project has been to revive the
politics and economics of harnessing capitalism to serve a broad public interest.

Obama's Challenge Web Site
Demos - A Network for Ideas and Action
The American Prospect

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Luc REYNAERT on November 7, 2005
Format: Paperback
After a brilliant and extensive analysis of the history of the world economy after World War II and the US-Japanese trade war, Robert Kuttner sketches the challenges facing the US and its economy after the fall of the Berlin Wall. The end of the Cold War was not only the end of Soviet dominance in the East, but also of US dominance in the West.

Laissez-faire, a doctrine saying that market economies, when left alone, are essentially self-regulating, is not the solution, because world economies are heavily influenced by state intervention. Governments have foreign-policy goals that are inextricably intertwined with economic ones, have strategic trade policies intended to assist their national industries and have national social contracts that cannot be left to markets.

Even the US system is seen as ad hoc mercantilism with weapons procurements, farm price subsidies, quotas and various restraints extracted from trading parties.

The US call for free trade is made a mockery by the 'socialist' huge US military and intelligence budgets (now 50% of the total US budget).

A policy of laissez-faire would ultimately lead to the (real) impotence of a (would-be) omnipotence.

The problems facing the US are multiple and deep: low savings rate, spotty educational and training system, decaying infrastructure, military bias in governmental research and technology, speculative capital markets, dysfunctional system of labor-management relations, corporate manager's short run consciousness, ideological confusion about military and economic security.
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