Thirty years ago, "maximising shareholder value" became the new business mantra, ushered in by Gordon Gekko and adopted over time across every layer of our economy. Since then, free market capitalism has lifted more than a billion people from poverty around the world. But in the U.S., most of the benefits have been captured by the richest 10%, along with providing justification for cheating customers, avoiding taxes, and leaving communities in the lurch. Today, Americans are losing faith that a free market economy is the best system - they're feeling it in their wallets and they're showing it in the voting booth.
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. He challenges the blind assumptions of free market cheerleaders and puts forth an undeniable argument that equality need not come at the expense of economic growth.
Pearstein lays out bold steps we can take as a country, addressing national service, tax code changes to incentivize companies to share profits with employees, educational opportunity, and more. He provides a path forward that will bring capitalism back to the people, and ultimately ensure prosperity for generations to come.
Steven Pearlstein is a Pulitzer prize-winning columnist for The Washington Post and the Robinson Professor of Public Affairs at George Mason University. He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary in 2008 for columns anticipating and explaining the financial crisis and global economic downturn. In 2006 he won the Gerald R. Loeb Award for business and financial commentary, and five years later the Loeb Award for lifetime achievement. He has appeared frequently as a commentator on television and radio. He is the author of Can American Capitalism Survive? He lives in Washington with his wife, Wendy Gray.