Capitalism, Alone: The Future of the System That Rules the World (Hardback)
  • Capitalism, Alone: The Future of the System That Rules the World (Hardback)

Capitalism, Alone: The Future of the System That Rules the World (Hardback)

Hardback 304 Pages
Published: 24/09/2019
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A provocative account of capitalism's rise to global dominance and, as different models of capitalism vie for world leadership, a look into what the future may hold.

We are all capitalists now. For the first time in human history, the globe is dominated by one economic system. In Capitalism, Alone, leading economist Branko Milanovic explains the reasons for this decisive historical shift since the days of feudalism and, later, communism. Surveying the varieties of capitalism, he asks: What are the prospects for a fairer world now that capitalism is the only game in town? His conclusions are sobering, but not fatalistic. Capitalism gets much wrong, but also much right-and it is not going anywhere. Our task is to improve it.

Milanovic argues that capitalism has triumphed because it works. It delivers prosperity and gratifies human desires for autonomy. But it comes with a moral price, pushing us to treat material success as the ultimate goal. And it offers no guarantee of stability. In the West, liberal capitalism creaks under the strains of inequality and capitalist excess. That model now fights for hearts and minds with political capitalism, exemplified by China, which many claim is more efficient, but which is more vulnerable to corruption and, when growth is slow, social unrest. As for the economic problems of the Global South, Milanovic offers a creative, if controversial, plan for large-scale migration. Looking to the future, he dismisses prophets who proclaim some single outcome to be inevitable, whether worldwide prosperity or robot-driven mass unemployment. Capitalism is a risky system. But it is a human system. Our choices, and how clearly we see them, will determine how it serves us.

Publisher: Harvard University Press
ISBN: 9780674987593
Number of pages: 304
Dimensions: 235 x 156 mm


A brilliant sequel to the pathbreaking Global Inequality. Drawing on original research and a typically wide sweep of history, Branko Milanovic poses all the important questions about our future. - Gordon Brown, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom

Branko Milanovic, a master economic statistician, here divides modern capitalism broadly into two versions: the ‘liberal’ one found in the West, and the ‘political’ one that has emerged in China. In this searching and richly argued work he weighs the choices we face and discusses whether the future may lie with one version, alone. - James K. Galbraith, author of The End of Normal

Leaves little doubt that the social contract no longer holds. Whether you live in Beijing or New York, the time for renegotiation is approaching. - Edward Luce, Financial Times

Countries with larger tax cuts experienced bigger increases in inequality… [The consequences] are richly detailed in Capitalism, Alone… Builds on Milanovic’s previous book, Global Inequality… Ideally the two should be read together… [Milanovic] belongs to a new generation of data-driven economists who have helped track what has happened to income distribution in recent years. - Liaquat Ahamed, New Yorker

Milanovic outlines a taxonomy of capitalisms and traces their evolution from classical capitalism before 1914, through the social-democratic capitalism of the mid-20th century, to ‘liberal meritocratic capitalism’ in much of the rich world, in particular America. He contrasts this with the ‘political capitalism’ found in many emerging countries, with China as the exemplar. These two capitalistic forms now dominate the global landscape. Their co-evolution will shape world history for decades to come. - The Economist

Few economists can compete with [Milanovic’s] stunning erudition, or with his skill in weaving together seemingly disparate figures with complex philosophical ideas to produce a coherent thesis that feels highly relevant to our troubled times. Capitalism, Alone is one of the most ambitious economics books published this year, in terms of its breadth and scope, and definitely one of the most fascinating. - ProMarket

The book is erudite, illuminating…Milanovic is well credentialed to take on this large and daunting subject…Scholarly and festooned with data, but also narrative in style and engaging to read…Milanovic chronicles the rise of authoritarian capitalism, both in nations that once epitomized liberal capitalism such as the U.S. and in countries like China, which are partly capitalist but show no signs of turning liberal…As a virtuoso economist, Milanovic is superb when he is compiling and assessing data. - Robert Kuttner, New York Review of Books

A remarkable book, possibly the author’s most comprehensive opus so far…I highly recommend Capitalism, Alone to all readers and scholars interested in challenging their understanding of the (supposed) sole socio-economic system we live in. - Roberto Iacono, LSE Review of Books

An extraordinarily valuable book for anyone who wants to gain an understanding of current topics in economic research and their bearing on policy debates. - Matt Mazewski, Commonweal

May turn out to be a seminal work on the fin de siècle de capitalisme…His conclusions and concepts, make extraordinary contributions to considerations of the state of capitalism. - Business Day

A scholar of inequality warns that while capitalism may have seen off rival economic systems, the survival of liberal democracies is anything but assured. The amoral pursuit of profit in more liberal capitalist societies has eroded the ethical norms that help sustain openness and democracy, he argues; now that tendency threatens to push such places in the direction of more authoritarian capitalist societies, such as China. - The Economist

This fascinating book offers a big-picture view of economic and social history over the past two centuries…But Milanovic is not confident that a more equal capitalism will emerge. - Richard N. Cooper, Foreign Affairs

An ambitious and provocative examination of the present and the future of capitalism. It is a valuable, data-rich, and thoughtful addition to several recent books examining the challenges facing this economic system…Milanovic says that while capitalism cannot be replaced—at least in the foreseeable future—it can be improved. - Zia Qureshi, Finance & Development

Attempts to make sense of the new world order and what could come of it. For that, it deserves to be read…An interesting and important read about the state of capitalism today and the directions it may take in the future. Milanovic’s history of focusing on economic data—rather than simplistic theory—and his healthy skepticism of meritocratic capitalism ensure that Capitalism, Alone will inform and provoke readers. - New York Journal of Books

Capitalism, Alone is an excellent work that covers a broad swath of the history of modern capitalism. - Edward Wolff, author of A Century of Wealth in America

Milanovic has written what may be his most ambitious book yet. Featuring his trademark clarity and erudition, Capitalism, Alone contains wide-ranging and thoughtful insights into the nature of capitalism as it is currently structured and considers how it will evolve in the coming century. - Arjun Jayadev, Azim Premji University

Branko Milanovic, the master narrator of global equality, brings an entirely new perspective to the topic in this remarkably astute book. By tracing the deep and evolving ideological foundations of capitalism and communism and analyzing the rise of Asia and particularly China, he contributes thought-provoking insights on the critical role of institutions and ideology for the long-term prospects of global economies. - Debin Ma, London School of Economics and Political Science

When politicians, pundits, and academics speak of a growing competition, or even a New Cold War, between the United States and China, one thing that is not asked enough is what is being competed for. Likewise, when we speak of an ‘American’ or ‘Western’ model, in contrast to a ‘Chinese’ one, it is worth asking what or who exactly is being modeled, and to what end. One of the virtues of Branko Milanović’s new book, Capitalism, Alone, is that it addresses these questions head-on and with useful insights and results. - Nils Gilman, American Interest

Milanovic gives an impressive amount of space and effort in his book to provide a thorough analysis of the role of corruption in globalization…What I have always most valued about Branko Milanovic is his willingness to follow his intuition to open up new aspects of the political discussion. I may not agree with him on some issues, but I always come away greatly enriched by the experience. - Mathew D. Rose, Brave New Europe

A data-rich, provocative account of where capitalism is today and where it may be headed. - Samuel Hammond, Quillette

A gift to those of us grappling with economic and political inequality, as we seek ways to promote a fairer and more productive, sustainable society. - Tim Page, Trades Union Congress (TUC) blog

[The] first three chapters are brilliant, original and make for gripping reading…Relish the erudition and panache. - Duncan Green, From Poverty to Power

An excellent new book on the past, present, and future of economic systems. - Umair Javed, Dawn

Milanovic writes as a good teacher, telling us what is coming, sharing the content, and then reminding us what we just learned. He takes the reader on diverting side journeys into the history of communism, the implausibility of a universal basic income, and even a brief summary from first principles of the past development and possible trajectories of Western liberal capitalism. The effect can be both exhilarating and overwhelming…Capitalism, Alone is a book to scribble questions all over, and then read again. - Glyn Davis, Inside Story

Milanovic’s method is eclectic and empirical, informed by Marxist concepts but not limited to them. - Max B. Sawlicky, Jacobin

Milanovic’s greatest contributions in Capitalism, Alone come from his fresh approach to the history of different capitalist countries. His taxonomy of Western countries evolving from classical, social-democratic, and now liberal-meritocratic capitalism helps us put the current state of affairs into better context and think about the ways policy can and cannot improve the system…His analysis of the forces and magnitudes of different kinds of inequality give a more nuanced story than is often found in public discussions. - Will Compernolle, Liberal Currents

The conceptions of political and liberal meritocratic capitalism prove to be both novel and compelling…Milanovic’s proposition is valuable as framework for understanding the future of political capitalism, within China and beyond. - Panthea Pourmalek, Journal of East Asian Studies

A readable and thought-provoking book, providing a concise introduction to some of the most important issues of our time. - Kevin Hjortshøj O’Rourke, Society

[Milanovic] brings readers broader perspectives than most western economists. - Martin Sandbu, Financial Times

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