Friday, June 8, 2018

Is Capitalism Obsolete? (Giacomo Corneo)

Giacomo Corneo's Is Capitalism Obsolete? is a journey through various economic systems to figure out if there is a better one than capitalism. Corneo places this discussion in the context of Europe, and much of his book focuses on European economics. This means if you are looking for a thorough discussion of American economic policy, don't expect a very deep dive into those waters. However, you will find a discussion that is relevant to the broader global discussion of globalism, us versus them, Brexit, and other hot political topics and how economic and financial inequality fuels much of the current landscape.

Corneo's book discusses several different economic philosophies, much of which is wrapped in political theory as well as economic, coming to the conclusion that the faults of each of these various systems are greater than the faults of modern capitalism. Landing back at capitalism, Corneo suggests various political and economic reforms to "fix" the broken system. Some of the fixes (transparency in politics) make a lot of sense; others (greater usage of direct democracy) likely would need some discussion given referendums and voter initiatives have left a mixed legacy in many locations. He also suggests some government involvement in corporations, including ownership in stock, as a means to help ease economic inequality, tying in universal dividends to citizens as a means of providing additional income. Corneo breezes through corporate power and influence in government without suggesting fixes to curb and limit the lobbyist influence, which is a several billion dollar industry in America. The book's European focus lends much to the outcomes and suggestions he offers.

Is Capitalism Obsolete? is an interesting read. I don't agree with all of the fixes or suggestions, but there is a fair amount of evidence and data to back up the suggestions that Corneo makes. It also isn't a book that will provide a heavy dose of reform in American circles, but for those looking at what is going on elsewhere, it will provide a useful commentary.