- Hardcover: 230 pages
- Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan; 2015 edition (June 29, 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1137519843
- ISBN-13: 978-1137519849
- Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 0.8 x 8.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 6 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #772,962 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Public Wealth of Nations: How Management of Public Assets Can Boost or Bust Economic Growth 2015th Edition
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The Economist - Books of the year 2015
Public sector needs to do a better job with assets
'Public wealth is vast, but largely overlooked as an asset class. Improving its management is one of the most important economic issues of our time. Dag Detter and Stefan Fölster shed much light on the subject. One can only hope that their book will kick-start a debate that ushers in better stewardship of state land, buildings, utilities and other assets. The potential gains are enormous.'
-Matthew Valencia, The Economist
'At a time of mistrust in traditional politics and weak public finances, Dag Detter and Stefan Fölster show politicians the way to demonstrate they are on the side of the people and to manage government assets better. There should be no excuse for those in power to dismiss these ideas.'
-Chris Giles, Economics Editor, Financial Times
'Better government handling of public assets is, or should be, a key issue in many countries. With his background as a former Director at the Ministry of Industry and former President of Stattum, the Swedish government holding company, Dag Detter can speak with great authority and depth of practical experience on the alternative approaches which governments might take. The Public Wealth of Nations is an important contribution to a debate of vital concern to governments across the world.'
-Lord Sassoon, former Commercial Secretary, HM Treasury
'This provocative book is a wake-up call for governments to become more responsible in managing their citizen's wealth and securing the foundation for future generations.'
-Marcel Fratzscher, President of DIW Berlin, Professor at Humboldt-University; Member of the Advisory Council of the Ministry of Economy of Germany
"In this important book, the authors convincingly argue using many examples that, like with pension funds or even households, an asset-liability approach is needed for public finance as well. They show that intelligent management of public assets can have a huge impact on government revenues, creating room for tax cuts, and on economic growth.'
-Dr. William De Vijlder, Group Chief Economist, BNP Paribas
"This important book shows the way forward in turning the latent Public Wealth of Nations into actual riches.'
-Willem H. Buiter, Global Chief Economist, Citi
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Publicly owned assets are usually badly managed because they are under political control and politicians rarely make good business people. However, if they are badly managed they are not in a fit state to sell so why privatise at a loss? Better, they argue, to take all these assets into a professionally managed “National Wealth Fund”, free from political interference, and managed for the benefit of its shareholders – ie the public.
There are some impressive numbers in this book – they argue that improving the yield on the world’s publicly owned commercial assets by just 1% (not a hard ask I’d say) could fund all the investment in infrastructure. Then, once the assets are functioning efficiently you can decide whether to sell or retain that asset. It’s a compelling argument and very well made. The book is a solid but easy read – not a lightweight fluff piece but not a turgid academic tome.
There are some questions I still have - like what do you do when there may be valid social reasons for an asset to be managed one way but that is in conflict with the best commercial decision but what I really liked about this book is that, unless you are a blinkered market fundamentalist or an unreformed communist, this solution makes sense. Stop fixating on ownership and ask hard questions about yield. We the people own this stuff and we have a right to expect those responsible for it to ensure that it delivers a decent return.