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Capsule Review

State Capitalism: How the Return of Statism Is Transforming the World

In This Review

State Capitalism: How the Return of Statism Is Transforming the World
State Capitalism: How the Return of Statism Is Transforming the World
By Joshua Kurlantzick
Oxford University Press, 2016 296 pp. Purchase

Kurlantzick argues that a new era of state capitalism has dawned. The authoritarian governments of China and Russia are the best-known practitioners of modern-day statism, but in this masterful survey, Kurlantzick shows that a shift toward state capitalism is also occurring in major democratic developing countries, such as Argentina, Brazil, India, and Indonesia, where governments have taken controlling ownership stakes in many of the largest companies. As Kurlantzick demonstrates, this new state capitalism, unlike older versions, is generally compatible with outward-looking trade and investment policies. It can also help developing countries access globalized sectors such as telecommunications, banking, and energy. Kurlantzick’s analysis brings to mind Andrew Shonfield’s Modern Capitalism, the classic 1965 account of a shifting balance between public and private control in the postwar economies of Europe and the United States. Then, as now, governments sought to maintain stability while also taking advantage of opportunities in a rapidly evolving global capitalist system. Kurlantzick, however, sees slightly more ominous possibilities today, emphasizing the risk that countries will increasingly turn away from market-oriented models, embrace protectionism, and restrict political freedoms.

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