THE END OF LAISSEZ-FAIRE: National Purpose and Global Economy After the Cold War by Robert Kuttner

THE END OF LAISSEZ-FAIRE: National Purpose and Global Economy After the Cold War

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Kuttner's brief here is not against capitalism but, rather, against its ""utopian variation""--the laissez-faire idealism of Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations. While conceding the many virtues of a free-market economy, Kuttner (The Life of the Party, 1988; The Economic Illusion, 1984, etc.) claims that it doesn't always efficiently distribute the needs of a civil society, nor does it naturally regulate a balance between supply and demand. Kuttner sees an unregulated economic policy causing drastic boom/bust cycles, environmental destruction, and the denigration of social values, punishing the innocent while rewarding unproductive speculators. In fact, he argues, strict laissez-faire had to be put aside to cope with the Great Depression, wartime planning, postwar recovery, and the cold war--all of which demanded strong governmental intervention. Kuttner points out that America must compete with highly successful trading partners (notably Japan and Germany) who are advantaged by strong cooperatives of government, management, labor, and education in mixed, non-laissez-faire economies--economies that generate ample savings for further investment and long-range planning while being unburdened by the staggering costs of world hegemony. Despite his critical analyses, Kuttner is optimistic about world trends--the decline of fascism and communism, increased cooperation among large nations, and the spread of liberal capitalism. He believes that America could prevent further decline by reducing its deficits, encouraging more savings, making wise public investments, and seeking to secure cooperative and productive partnerships among the forces of labor, management, and education. A detailed and persuasive analysis.

Pub Date: Feb. 22nd, 1990
Publisher: Knopf