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Capsule Review

Turbo-Capitalism: Winners and Losers in the Global Economy

In This Review

Turbo-Capitalism: Winners and Losers in the Global Economy

Turbo-Capitalism: Winners and Losers in the Global Economy
By Edward Luttwak
Harpercollins, 1999 290 pp. $26.00 Purchase

An unsentimental, acerbic, and witty critique of the growing dominance of unfettered capitalism. The author focuses on its leading agent, the United States, but also writes knowledgeably about Europe and Japan. On one hand, he extols capitalism as the best system for organizing economic activity and promoting dynamism and efficiency. But he also laments the transformation since 1980 from what he calls the regulated capitalism of the 1960s and 1970s into the "turbo-charged" variety of today. The adverse consequences include widening income disparities, increased economic insecurity across all income levels, social ills such as increased crime, and stiffening social regulation. Shunning academic boundaries, the Romanian-born Luttwak offers trenchant commentary on many aspects of American society, from art to sports, while castigating money's increasing dominance in measuring success. He also warns other countries against adopting unfettered American capitalism without the particular Calvinist underpinnings that make its practices -- and its undesirable byproducts -- acceptable in the United States. Although the book is not a program for action, it shrewdly dissects modern economic and social trends.

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