WHY CAPITALISM? by Allan H. Meltzer


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Meltzer (Political Economy/Carnegie Mellon Univ.; A History of the Federal Reserve, Volume 2, Book 1, 1951-1969, 2010, etc.) provides a concise alternative to current economic policies for those who look with suspicion at the writings of economists and financial specialists.

The author presents three main reasons why capitalism should be defended: It is the only system that supports both growth and individual freedom; it can adapt to different cultures; and it takes people as they are, not as they are imagined to be. Meltzer compares it to systems like the socialism of the former Soviet Union, and he argues forcefully for the case that capitalism can change and reform itself. He is sharply critical of the way Ben Bernanke, Henry Paulson and Timothy Geithner handled the subprime mortgage crisis. For him, such choices have brought the world to an unsustainable economic position, which requires “new rules for monetary policy” that will end excessive American fiscal and monetary expansion, as well as Asia's reliance on exports to the U.S. He insists that the post–World War II Pax Americana “has now ended,” and the U.S. lacks either domestic or international support for a revival. Meltzer’s new monetary order would include an agreement from the Chinese to change its currency policies, and he believes that the American global military posture ought to be re-evaluated from the twin standpoints of need and cost, and be brought into line with what the country can afford. The author presents the full array of regulatory instruments available, and he notes that financial failures must be allowed to occur.

A lively, politically challenging contribution to a developing discussion on how to change international monetary arrangements.

Pub Date: March 1st, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-19-985957-3
Page count: 160pp
Publisher: Oxford Univ.
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15th, 2011


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