TOWARD THE NEXT ECONOMICS

AND OTHER ESSAYS

Diverse essays, 1972-80, looking as usual chiefly to the future—a natural outlook for the nation's top business-management advisor and goad. Drucker, indeed, is seldom boring and seldom wholly wrong just because he's challenging "generally accepted assumptions"—which are, in the nature of things, always partially erroneous. (And almost invariably out-of-date.) The title essay is Drucker's most encompassing refutation/prognostication. Reviewing the successive schools of economic thinking (Mercantilism to Keynesianism), he characterizes the "world view" of each as either macro- or micro-economic, either supply- or demand-focused. This construct not only makes monetarist Milton Friedman a Keynesian (his economics is macro-economics—and demand-focused, contingent on money and credit), it also shifts attention—in Drucker's words—from the failure of "this or that theory" to the failure of the Keynesian assumption that productivity, unattended, would continue to slowly increase. Add the decline in capital-formation (contra to Keynesian theory), and Drucker is ready to stipulate what the Next Economics will be: micro-economic and based on supply. But the new micro-economics will concentrate, not on profit-maximization, but on productivity and capital-formation—making possible the integration, for the first time, of micro-economics and macro-economics, and of "the real economy of commodities and work and the symbol economy of money and credit." Some of the implications may be previewed in the succeeding pieces, which mostly address specific audiences and specific issues: environmentalism (or, how to identify justifiable risks—and non-justifiable risks), technology (or, how to be technologically innovative—and technologically responsible). One interesting piece deals with multinationals and developing countries. "Neglect and indifference," writes Drucker, "rather than 'exploitation,' is the justified grievance of the developing countries"; and he suggests ways to give Third-World affiliates more standing in the corporate structure. Another reassesses—as totally misrepresented—the prophet of "scientific management," Frederick Taylor. Two concluding pieces focus on Japan: one, a corrective that overcompensates, is devoted to demonstrating that Japan is not a monolith (true, but it's a lot more homogeneous than any other major nation); the second attempts, unimpressively, to view Japan through Japanese art. But even the narrowest of the pieces on management- and work-related issues—corporate boards, retirement, public-service programs—have something eye-opening to say.

Pub Date: April 29, 1981

ISBN: 1422131556

Page Count: 229

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 16, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1981

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Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our...

THINKING, FAST AND SLOW

A psychologist and Nobel Prize winner summarizes and synthesizes the recent decades of research on intuition and systematic thinking.

The author of several scholarly texts, Kahneman (Emeritus Psychology and Public Affairs/Princeton Univ.) now offers general readers not just the findings of psychological research but also a better understanding of how research questions arise and how scholars systematically frame and answer them. He begins with the distinction between System 1 and System 2 mental operations, the former referring to quick, automatic thought, the latter to more effortful, overt thinking. We rely heavily, writes, on System 1, resorting to the higher-energy System 2 only when we need or want to. Kahneman continually refers to System 2 as “lazy”: We don’t want to think rigorously about something. The author then explores the nuances of our two-system minds, showing how they perform in various situations. Psychological experiments have repeatedly revealed that our intuitions are generally wrong, that our assessments are based on biases and that our System 1 hates doubt and despises ambiguity. Kahneman largely avoids jargon; when he does use some (“heuristics,” for example), he argues that such terms really ought to join our everyday vocabulary. He reviews many fundamental concepts in psychology and statistics (regression to the mean, the narrative fallacy, the optimistic bias), showing how they relate to his overall concerns about how we think and why we make the decisions that we do. Some of the later chapters (dealing with risk-taking and statistics and probabilities) are denser than others (some readers may resent such demands on System 2!), but the passages that deal with the economic and political implications of the research are gripping.

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our minds.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-374-27563-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

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A deftly argued case for a new kind of socialism that, while sure to inspire controversy, bears widespread discussion.

CAPITAL AND IDEOLOGY

A massive investigation of economic history in the service of proposing a political order to overcome inequality.

Readers who like their political manifestoes in manageable sizes, à la Common Sense or The Communist Manifesto, may be overwhelmed by the latest from famed French economist Piketty (Top Incomes in France in the Twentieth Century: Inequality and Redistribution, 1901-1998, 2014, etc.), but it’s a significant work. The author interrogates the principal forms of economic organization over time, from slavery to “non-European trifunctional societies,” Chinese-style communism, and “hypercapitalist” orders, in order to examine relative levels of inequality and its evolution. Each system is founded on an ideology, and “every ideology, no matter how extreme it may seem in its defense of inequality, expresses a certain idea of social justice.” In the present era, at least in the U.S., that idea of social justice would seem to be only that the big ones eat the little ones, the principal justification being that the wealthiest people became rich because they are “the most enterprising, deserving, and useful.” In fact, as Piketty demonstrates, there’s more to inequality than the mere “size of the income gap.” Contrary to hypercapitalist ideology and its defenders, the playing field is not level, the market is not self-regulating, and access is not evenly distributed. Against this, Piketty arrives at a proposed system that, among other things, would redistribute wealth across societies by heavy taxation, especially of inheritances, to create a “participatory socialism” in which power is widely shared and trade across nations is truly free. The word “socialism,” he allows, is a kind of Pandora’s box that can scare people off—and, he further acknowledges, “the Russian and Czech oligarchs who buy athletic teams and newspapers may not be the most savory characters, but the Soviet system was a nightmare and had to go.” Yet so, too, writes the author, is a capitalism that rewards so few at the expense of so many.

A deftly argued case for a new kind of socialism that, while sure to inspire controversy, bears widespread discussion.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-674-98082-2

Page Count: 976

Publisher: Belknap/Harvard Univ.

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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