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TURBO-CAPITALISM by Edward Luttwak


Winners and Losers in the Global Economy

by Edward Luttwak

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-06-019330-1
Publisher: HarperCollins

Cosmopolite Luttwak (The Endangered American Dream, 1993, etc.) again turns his attention to geoeconomics and offers a new locution for overheated, unregulated free-market enterprise. “Turbo-capitalism,” he calls it, and it’s what’s happening in a new kind of boom-and-bust cycle. The fundamental structural change from the controlled capitalism that held sway from 1945 until the 1980s has been accelerating, and it creates more and destroys more, brings more efficiency and more inequality. Domestic controls are being dismantled. Unhampered by regulation, taxes, trade policy, national tradition, or humanitarian concerns, turbo-capitalism is ascendant worldwide as diverse economies join the free-for-all. The consequences are, to many, wonderful. To others, the author included, the dynamics of the rapid change are unsettling. New wealth seems to be everywhere, but, asks Luttwak, how is it distributed? Sure, unemployment in America is low. That’s because American labor is increasingly cheap, he answers. Workers tossed overboard as corporate vessels race ahead, leaner and meaner, must reduce expectations to get on board again. Private mores and public morals change. Privatization increases and hegemony is shifting from governments to business. Heads of state become salesmen for indigenous industries in international trade wars. For each victory in geoeconomic combat, though, there’s a loss of another kind. The new public policy will “accelerate the fracturing of. . . societies into Silicon valley heroes and vales of despond,” Luttwak warns. Perhaps, according to his premise, it’s a universal zero-sum game, but the disruptions are undeniable. And the disparity between rich and poor really is growing. A decidedly even-handed, cogent discussion, more descriptive than prescriptive. Here is an independent, thoughtful text, useful for interpreting tomorrow morning’s economic news.