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BUILDING WEALTH by Lester C. Thurow


The New Rules for Individuals, Companies and Nations in a Knowledge-Based Economy

by Lester C. Thurow

Pub Date: June 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-88730-951-8

A lesson plan for coping with the realities of the economic future. An economist at MIT and author of several previous books (The Future of Capitalism, 1996, etc.), Thurow is no stranger to the task of purveying information about economic concepts. Here, he tackles the issues that affect societies, workers, and businesses in a world where globalization is a reality, not a buzzword, and brainpower has usurped muscle power as the major component in business success. As the subtitle suggests, his conclusions are straightforwardly organized in a list of “rules” that summarize major points, as in Rule Seven: “Any society that values order above all else will not be creative, but without the right degree of order, creativity disappears as if into a black hole.” Thurow’s ideological bent is generally moderate’sometimes he leans toward a libertarian philosophy; at other times, toward a more liberal government-as-benefactor position. While he extols “chaos” (i.e., disorganization and lack of central control) as necessary to promote creativity and “tool building,” he also states that too much disorder is not desirable. Thurow proffers history lessons, profiles of success, and morals to be drawn from such failed concepts as communism. Yet while he clearly favors capitalism, he’s willing to find fault with this economic system as well, describing its “tendency to save and invest too little,” which he calls a “built-in genetic disease.” Thurow emphasizes that while economic globalization spreads, there will be no corresponding global government to control it, and he urges readers to stay ahead of future dangers, although this lecture seems mostly aimed at politicians and policy makers. Instructive and to the point, an overview of emerging economic realities, including scenarios for the US, Europe, and Japan. (Author tour)