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Turbo-Capitalism: Winners and Losers in the Global Economy Paperback – February 16, 2000

3.5 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

A new kind of capitalism is raging around the globe--and its economic and social consequences could be crippling. In Turbo-Capitalism, Edward Luttwak, a noted international strategist and consultant, warns that the free market has gone amok. He predicts possible massive increases in poverty, crime, and unemployment, especially in the Third World, which lacks the political and legal systems of the U.S. Unlike the benign, carefully controlled capitalism that ruled from the 1940s to the 1980s, this new whirlwind capitalism will eventually create tremendous social upheaval. "Allowing turbo-capitalism to have its way, as in the United States and the United Kingdom, results in widening income differentials in exchange for not-so-rapid growth," writes Luttwak, who provides plenty of statistics to support his argument. Luttwak acknowledges that economic progress could be crippled if the world returns to the old model of government regulation, and this he calls the "great dilemma," with no easy answers.

While Luttwak's interest is more global, he offers some domestic examples to illustrate the effects of capitalism unleashed. He points to Boeing, which suffered from massive layoffs in the 1990s, even as aircraft orders soared. And he ridicules the notion that high-tech will come to the rescue with thousands of new jobs for downsized blue-collar and white-collar workers, calling these hopes "The Microsoft Mirage." A sweeping, sometimes densely written treatise, Turbo-Capitalism raises important questions for policymakers and business leaders. --Dan Ring --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Since the administrations of Reagan and Thatcher, the virtues of deregulation and privatization have become accepted wisdom in the U.S. and the U.K. Luttwak, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C., and the author of The Endangered American Dream, has dubbed this free market, with its accelerated rate of structural change, "turbo-capitalism." Although he shares the general opinion that deregulation, privatization and globalization have reinvigorated sleepy economies, he writes that within the shiny apple of prosperity achieved in the U.S. and Britain lurks a worm in the form of reduced real wages, greater income inequality and increased alienation among those excluded from the benefits of growth. Luttwak argues that, in the U.S., such negative consequences are balanced by a vigorous legal system and Calvinist values. He is not as sanguine about the prospects for countries where turbo-capitalism is unchecked by such legal and cultural balances. Seeing unemployment as the global problem of our time and realizing that turbo-capitalism is more likely to aggravate than alleviate it, Luttwak singles out Japan as exemplary for its full employment policy, which endorses the position that the economy exists to serve society, not the other way around. Clearly relishing his Cassandra-like role, Luttwak outlines worst-case scenarios: conservative European monetary policy (with the euro) inhibits employment opportunities; geo-economic conflicts erupt with the spread of globalization. Even if his darkest forebodings never materialize, Luttwak puts readers on notice that, at the very least, speed bumps lie along the road ahead.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial (February 16, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 006093137X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060931377
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #697,674 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I knew that Luttwak is fluent in Italian for having seen him talking in several interviews on Italian TV so I was expecting from him a good insight of the Italian political situation.
What I did not expected was such an extremly good insight of the situation of Venezia, my hometown, which is usually not understand even from other Italian living nearby!! Luttwak really surprised me. I would like to know from other readers if his insight of Japan and Russia was good and reliable as the one of Italy (and Continental Europe in general).
One small defect of this book is that the bibliography is not really that satisfing, albeit the idea to give the url of the economical tables is great.
As a final point I have to say that I was strocken by the fact that Luttwak does not draw a clear conclusion about the fate of "turbo capitalism"; except for the statement that, as it happens to all human things, it will pass. Fact of which I am personally convinced too, point is how it will pass.
I hope the author will clarify his toughts about it in a future work which, hopefully, will contain a more extented bibliography.
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Format: Hardcover
An illuminating discussion of modern global economics that is easily accessible to a non-economist. Any American who has been puzzled, thrilled, or appalled by the rapid changes in the business environment of the last decade, either here or abroad, will want to read this book. Its strategic approach puts the pieces that we read in the media together into an integrated picture. Even readers who do not agree with all that Luttwak postulates will find that this book provokes much thought and some great arguments with friends.
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Format: Paperback
Unlike some other reviewers, I find that Edward Luttwak's analysis of the new capitalism, or what he calls Turbo capitalism, was very well considered and presented. Luttwak knows europe very well, as he lives and teaches in Italy and speaks a number of languages fluently. The book is not a condmenation o cpaitalism; rather it shows how from the late seventies and after the fall of Soviet communism the Keynesian economic system that had been devised to produce a compromise between the aspirations of socialism and the practical realities of capitalism, which existed in much of the Western world has been dismantled. He notes that in order to reduce the appeal of socialism, which was gaining ground throughout Europe prior to the rise of fascism and after the Second World War, Western governments were almost forced into satisfying vast numbers of their populations by institutionalizing such benefits as free medical service and schooling. the equalizing policies help to soften demands for outright socilaism while allowing free enterprise to grow - albeit with some regulation. Luttwak then terms 'turbo capitalism' that transformation, which took place after the fall of the Berlin wall, characterized by the de-regualtion of free enterprise and the simultaneous retraction of the social welfare mechanisms that had been established in the post-war period.
Luttwak also looks at how certain market inefficiencies, like having too many employees, family businesses and fewer working hours actually helped make the 'capitalist' system more sustainable for the vast majority - or for what used to be the middle class until a decade ago. Turbo capitalism has accelerated and accentuated class divides, reducing the influence and size of the middle class.
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Format: Paperback
I've made a habit of reading books on economics within the past year and this one is at the top of my recommendation list. Luttwak clearly describes the situation of capitalism worldwide, from the most regulated to the least restrictive economies, which he dubs turbo-capitalist (America and Britain.) He is clear that the tradeoff is security and broad wealth distribution versus efficiency and economic inequality. There is no resisting the move toward efficiency, because there is no way to compete with it. So, the whole world is inevitably moving in the turbo-capitalist direction. There are good and bad aspects of this which Luttwak discusses but regardless, we are going with the flow in which privatization and de-regulation are the driving forces, bringing rapid change, dislocation of labor, uncertainty of employment and anxiety about economic security. This book was educational for me on the topic of the establishment of the EU and the ECU (Euro.) I was particularly interested in his discussion of central banking, but found myself eagerly turning every page in expectation of what I'd find him explaining next. Luttwak is equally at home describing why Americans are such super-consumers, the Italian way of protecting jobs in a closed (but opening) economy, and the function of the Russian mafia in countering the economic power of the Russian state. An informative and entertaining read that is bound to add depth to the reader's understanding of current events.
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Format: Paperback
I totally agree with Edward Luttwak's plain talk: today's capitalism with its managing for the short time, profits the happy few, but is a disaster for the many: abrupt mass firings, disruption of individual lives, of families, of communities and even of entire regions, insecurity of the middle classes.
Fortunately, he believes that turbo capitalism will pass, but, for me, not immediately.
For the reasons, read for instance the excellent books on US politics by Gore Vidal.
One of Luttwak's cures to reverse the actual situation is control by the government, but if the government is controlled by the few (private corporations and their main individual shareholders), the proceeds of capitalismn will continue to flow to the few.
As a matter of fact, he is severe for the actual governmental policies, like monetarism (it devalues labor rather than money); like the conversion of all institutions - hospitals etc. - into profit-maximizing corporations, or the hypocritical war on drugs.
I quote: "Even the fanciest illegal substances hardly make a dent in the budget of many users, some of whom are multi-millionaires ... The ruined drug addict on his way to a penniless death in a sordid alley is mostly myth: if it were not so ... Colombian drug lords would have to be content with tenements and bicycles instead of palatial mansions and executive jets." (p.210)
His conclusion is obvious: what is needed is a government that governs for the many and distributes more equally than now the proceeds of capitalism over the whole population, not only through wages, but also through better social welfare.
But this is only possible via the democratic process.
This book contains also excellent analyses of, among others, the causes of World War I, mercantilism or the situation in Russia after the fall of the Berlin wall.
An important work. Not to be missed.
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