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LibraryThing ReviewUser Review - LibraryThing
If there is a leading economic text to act as a guide to the new milenium it is probably this one. Olson firmly rejects the idea that economics can be understood without the political context of power relationships that surround commercial activity. He makes the interesting observation that lively markets exist throughout the Third World and he refers to these as "self-regulating" markets with a notable characteristic being their short time horizon. Essentially there is the simultaneous payment for and delivery of goods. He contrasts this with advanced democracies that have "NON self-regulating" markets i.e. what he calls "socially contrived markets" that allow much greater predictability and longer time horizons based on contract law and state protected property rights, allowing such things as long-term capital investment, stock markets, complex manufacturing and banking. An established democracy with widely spread power and solid property rights is clearly desirable but he makes the point that democracy is a historically recent invention that has only partly displaced traditional autocracies. Autocracies (dictatorships) concentrate power in one person or a small group at the expense of the majority and are maintained by the threat of force and often use an "ideology", for example Communism of Fascism, to justify their exclusive and permanent right to power. The book shows that democratic free markets with an impartial rule of law will in the long rule out distance unstable dictatorships, but he proceeds to suggest that long-established democracies are prone to a few problems of their own, that in some cases can prove fatal. Most notably special interest groups can gain (undemocratic) special access to political power for their own gain at the expense of the national majority. A fine example would be the enormously costly bailout of the speculative bad debts of Wall Street banks passed onto American taxpayers, or alternatively (again in the U.S.), the medical/ insurance lobby that manages to deliver a less health population at twice the cost of similar European systems. An interesting observation is that the remarkable success of German and Japan after WW2 was in large part the result of the complete destruction intricate systems of special relationships allowing a fresh start along clean free market lines, but of course, at the great social cost of war.
Review: Power And Prosperity: Outgrowing Communist And Capitalist DictatorshipsUser Review - Goodreads
So what do you do if you're fascinated by science but are incapable of scientific rigour, you're fascinated by math but you're crap at it and you're fascinated by philosophy but are incapable of thinking logically? Easy: become an economist!
THE LOGIC OF POWER
TIME TAKINGS AND INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS
COASEIAN BARGAINS TRANSACTIONS COSTS AND ANARCHY
RATIONAL INDIVIDUALS AND IRRATIONAL SOCIETIES
GOVERNANCE AND ECONOMIC GROWTH
THE SOURCES OF LAW ENFORCEMENT AND CORRUPTION
THE THEORY OF SOVIETTYPE AUTOCRACIES