In This Review

Market Unbound: Unleashing Global Capitalism
Market Unbound: Unleashing Global Capitalism
By Lowell Bryan and Diana Farrell
John Wiley & Sons, 1996, 268 pp

The basic thesis of the authors, who were employed by the consulting firm McKinsey and Company, is that the theoretical notion of a single integrated world market for tradable financial assets is gradually becoming a reality. This accelerating development will put increasing pressure on governments to alter their unsustainable practice of borrowing to finance current expenditures, particularly entitlements. At the same time, the globalization of capital markets creates lucrative opportunities, especially for Americans, who, as measured by the justly praised McKinsey productivity studies, are on average close to the best in the world in producing goods and, in particular, services. World financial assets, estimated now to exceed $41 trillion, have been growing substantially more rapidly than world income or the world stock of physical capital, as liquid assets are increasingly securitized and as outstanding equities are revalued upward. Contrary to conventional concerns about capital shortages, the authors foresee a ready availability of investable funds in the next decade as the populations of rich countries move into the high-saving 40-to-64 age bracket. But in the more distant future, as these people retire, they will put heavy pressure on government finances by drawing on currently underfunded public pension and health commitments, although the United States, surprisingly, is in relatively better shape than other rich countries in this regard.