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Can American Capitalism Survive?

Why Greed Is Not Good, Opportunity Is Not Equal, and Fairness Won't Make Us Poor
Narrated by: L. J. Ganser
Length: 6 hrs and 53 mins
Categories: Nonfiction, Economics
4.5 out of 5 stars (48 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Pulitzer Prize-winning economic journalist Steven Pearlstein argues that our 30-year experiment in unfettered markets has undermined core values required to make capitalism and democracy work.

Thirty years ago, “greed is good” and “maximizing shareholder value” became the new mantras woven into the fabric of our business culture, economy, and politics. Although, around the world, free-market capitalism has lifted more than a billion people from poverty, in the United States, most of the benefits of economic growth have been captured by the richest 10 percent, along with providing justification for squeezing workers, cheating customers, avoiding taxes, and leaving communities in the lurch. As a result, Americans are losing faith that a free-market economy is the best system. 

In Can American Capitalism Survive?, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Steven Pearlstein chronicles our descent and challenges the theories being taught in business schools and exercised in boardrooms around the country. We’re missing a key tenet of Adam Smith’s wealth of nations: Without trust and social capital, democratic capitalism cannot survive. Further, equality of incomes and opportunity need not come at the expense of economic growth. 

Pearlstein lays out bold steps we can take as a country: a guaranteed minimum income paired with universal national service, tax incentives for companies to share profits with workers, ending class segregation in public education, and restoring competition to markets. He provides a path forward that will create the shared prosperity that will sustain capitalism over the long term.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio. 

©2018 Steven Pearlstein (P)2018 Macmillan Audio

Critic Reviews

"In the Venn diagram of 'economics' and 'interesting', Steven Pearlstein occupies the (tiny) overlapping area in the middle." (Malcolm Gladwell)

“Americans have begun to lose faith in capitalism, and that has sapped our optimism and poisoned our politics. In this enlightening and important book, Steven Pearlstein explains how our economic system gradually has undermined our sense of community by glorifying greed rather than fairness.” (Walter Isaacson) 

"If anyone can save capitalism from the capitalists, it’s Steven Pearlstein. This lucid, brilliant book refuses to abandon capitalism to those who believe morality and justice irrelevant to an economic system." (Ezra Klein, founder and editor-at-large, Vox)

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fantastic history of today's American economy

graduating college before the turn of the century in the midst of the internet revolution that would become a bubble, then surviving another bubble/bust and crisis, while now preparing for another bust I am a father and recovering libertarian whose finally found with this accessible and plain-worded work a single source documenting how my collegiate indoctrination with the maximize shareholder wealth business ethic was merely a symptom of a trend toward corporate governance that is vastly more interested in financial well-being rather than happiness and community.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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I only read this for school

It’s good, but I feel the author repeats himself over and over again. By that I mean he gets sidetracked too often to prove a point he had already proved.

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Antidote to economic disinformation

I so appreciate this book was put on audio for those of us who are too busy to sit down and read. This is an important book because not only does he unpack the lies we've been told that are supposedly truths, he gives corroborating research. The Chicago school of economic lies permeate media and our schools. Those who have taken the Koolaide will of course hate this book. This is for those of us who desperately want to understand what doesn't seem to make sense, we get a glimpse of why our guts tell us greed is not good and immorality is not moral,trust has been drastically eroded and the rich are not better than everybody else. I like most of what Mr. Pearlstein offers for fixes and it's nice that he took the time to include them as too many books just leave me overwhelmed with the facts with no way to move forward.

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Bad book on many levels

The author try’s to support his conclusion that maximizing shareholder value is destroying American capitalism. For instance xerox failed due to this along with not playing fair. Seems anyone can win a Pulitzer because the supporting causes the author states do not support his conclusions even under the simplest of investigations.

0 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 07-11-19

lots of great ideas

This is a good collection of research and ideas on the challenges facing American capitalism. I found it a relevant and valuable contribution to the public policy debate.