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The Future of Capitalism

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The Future of Capitalism

How Today's Economic Forces Shape Tomorrow's World


15 min read
10 take-aways
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What's inside?

Economist Lester Thurow asks hard questions, like: As the gulf between rich and poor widens, will capitalism stagnate?

Editorial Rating



  • Innovative


This is a particularly important book for two types of people to read: those who believe economic instability and inequality will lead capitalism to implode (they’re wrong); and those who believe the economic engine of capitalism is running just fine, especially in the United States, and simply needs to be left alone by meddling do-gooders, thank you (they are wrong too). Neither view is realistic. Lester C. Thurow is quite well suited to explain why. He is practically a brand name on national television, known for making more sense of the economy than anyone could possibly expect from a dean at MIT. Although Thurow wrote this book in 1996, the trade deficit, the skewed distribution of revenue and the disparity between rich and poor continue to demonstrate the validity of his conclusion that fewer and fewer can get more and more for only so long. highly recommends his insightful analysis, wishing only that Thurow proposed deeper solutions for the problems he so ably diagnosed.


The New Economic Game

With the advent of the industrial revolution, success came to be defined as an increase in a society’s material standard of living. Given that definition, capitalism is, in fact, the only successful economic system in the world. Its competitors lie strewn upon the boneyard of defunct notions such as fascism, socialism and communism.

Despite its success, something is clanking inside the thrumming engine of capitalism and it doesn’t sound good. That grinding noise is the sound of the world economy decelerating from an inflation-adjusted annual growth rate of 5% in the 1960s, to 3.6% growth per year in the 1970s, to 2.8% in the 1980s, to just 2% in the first half of the 1990s.

Another interesting note: while the U.S. economy generated 38 million net new jobs from 1973 to 1994, western Europe failed to create a single net new job during the same time period. Yet even in the U.S., something is awry. In the 1980s, 64% of all earnings gains went to the top 1% of the workforce, raising serious questions about the long-term stability of the social and economic structure.

Historically, dominant social systems without competitors - ancient Egypt...

About the Author

Lester C. Thurow, a professor of economics at MIT, is recognized as an insightful commentator on the American economy. He has been a contributing editor to Newsweek, former dean of MIT’s Sloan School of Management and a member of the editorial board of The New York Times. He is the author of several other books, including The Zero-Sum Society, The Zero-Sum Solution, Dangerous Currents: The State of Economics and The Impact of Taxes on the American Economy.

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