Culture and Prosperity: The Truth About Markets - Why Some Nations Are Rich but Most Remain Poor

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9780060587055: Culture and Prosperity: The Truth About Markets - Why Some Nations Are Rich but Most Remain Poor

A witty and accessible tour de force that is immersed in the latest economic thinking, Culture and Prosperity is an indispensable guide to the world around us and destined to become a classic text for understanding the politics of globalization.

Guided by the belief that a combination of lightly regulated capitalism and liberal democracy -- the American business model -- is not just appropriate for America at the dawn of the twenty-first century, but a universal path to freedom and prosperity, the United States is an unrivaled colossus seeking to remake the world in its own image.

After a decade of successive market revolutions around the world, beginning with the collapse of the Berlin Wall and continuing in countries as diverse as Argentina and New Zealand, the effectiveness of the market economy as a route to prosperity and growth is not in question, but a more sophisticated appreciation of the strengths and limits of markets is urgently required.

In this new and illuminating analysis of the nature and evolution of the market economy, John Kay attacks the oversimplified account of its operation, contained in the American business model and favored by politicians and business people. He even questions whether it offers an accurate description of the success of the American economy itself.

In an absorbing argument that rewards close reading, and rereading, Culture and Prosperity examines every assumption we have about economic life from a refreshingly new angle. Taking the reader from the shores of Lake Zurich to the streets of Mumbai, from the flower market of San Remo to the sales rooms at Christie's, John Kay reveals the connection between a nation's social, political, and cultural context and its economic performance.

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About the Author:

John Kay is one of Britain's leading economists. He has been a professor at the London Business School and the University of Oxford, and is currently a visiting professor at the London School of Economics. He is the only professor of management to receive the academic distinction of Fellowship of the British Academy. A frequent writer, lecturer, and broadcaster, he contributes a weekly column to the Financial Times. He commutes between London, Oxfordshire, and the south of France.

From Publishers Weekly:

Kay, an Oxford economist with a regular column in the Financial Times, tries to follow up on the success of Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs, and Steel, but falls short of the mark (not to mention being perhaps a few years too late). The historical examples used to illustrate basic economic principles lack pizzazz, and hypotheticals meant to reflect contemporary individuals are equally stiff. Kay largely forgoes cultural analysis in order to meticulously define the most fundamental rules of market economies in the sort of dry academic prose that spends as much time announcing the contents of upcoming chapters as it does on dealing with the subject at hand. Eventually, Kay comes around to the suggestion that markets are successful when they are buttressed by strong institutions working together in "disciplined pluralism," but he never quite explains why some cultures are able to achieve and sustain such conditions while others aren't. He also points out that these ideal economic conditions are at some variance with the "American business model" of self-interested players operating with little government interference or taxation, but this is neither a new nor original observation. Though closing chapters do make a compelling argument for the supremacy of microeconomic analysis over sweeping macroeconomic theories, that simply isn't enough to propel the book ahead of better competitors with a long head start.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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