The Just Market by Jonathan Brandow

The Just Market

Torah's Response to the Crisis of the Modern Economy
Email this review


A singular perspective on how modern-day capitalism could be improved with a dose of social consciousness from the ancient past.
Brandow, founder of the industry research firm BizMiner, uses his considerable analytical skills to explore the economic values he says are imparted to modern society via the Torah and Talmud. While he acknowledges that “Jews clearly comprise the primary audience,” he hopes that “Christian progressives…might find value and comfort” in his arguments. Brandow digs deep into the Torah to identify key economic principles and social values that drove ancient commerce, demonstrating their contemporary applicability. Unlike modern capitalism, however, “The Just Market” (a term invented by the author) centers around six foundations, according to Brandow: Access to the Necessities of Life, Universal Employment Opportunity, A Level Playing Field, Commercial and Promotional Integrity, Respect for Labor and Sabbatical Values. Each of these six areas is described in detail by the author, who makes liberal use of Talmudic discussions to support the text. The most intriguing aspect of the book is the juxtaposition of The Just Market with the current world economy. Brandow masterfully compares and contrasts ancient commerce with modern commerce in assessments that are fascinating if not stark; describing the first of the foundations, for instance, the author writes, “The Just Market is not content with a welfare-based safety net that variously feeds the poor….Instead, its objective is to provide universal and ongoing access to the necessities of life through productive means.” The ancients specified requirements that are prophetic in light of today’s lingering economic ills: “outlaw harmful speculative financial instruments,” “establish a maximum profit standard” and “enforce an excess profits (Onah) tax.” The ancients even seemed prescient about immigration; according to The Just Market ethic, “foreign and minority workers must be treated without discrimination under the law.” Whether this study is merely an academic exercise or a wake-up call to modern capitalist society is open for debate; the real value here may be in simply appreciating the common-sense wisdom of our forefathers.
An ingenious premise vigorously defended by scrupulous research.

Pub Date: July 15th, 2014
Publisher: Langdon Street Press
Program: Kirkus Indie
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 2014


NonfictionTHE JUDAS ECONOMY by William Wolman
by William Wolman
NonfictionBEYOND OUTRAGE by Robert B. Reich
by Robert B. Reich
NonfictionWHAT'S THE ECONOMY FOR, ANYWAY? by John de Graaf
by John de Graaf