cover image THE MARKET SYSTEM: What It Is, How It Works, and What to Make of It

THE MARKET SYSTEM: What It Is, How It Works, and What to Make of It

Charles E. Lindblom, THE MARKET SYSTEM: What It Is, How It Works, and What to Ma. , $26 (304pp) ISBN 978-0-300-08752-9

Ever since the worldwide collapse of Soviet-style communism, the triumph of the "market system" has been spoken of as a fait accompli, while the market has been touted as a panacea for every social ill from failing schools to Third World poverty. Lindblom (Politics and Markets: The World's Political-Economic System) explains what this "market system" is, details how it works, makes a strong case for its advantages and keenly outlines some of its limitations. Exploring the relationship between markets and democracy, for instance, he points out that while it's true that all democratic societies have market systems, we can't conclude that markets always foster democracy, because many antidemocratic societies also have market systems. Addressing nothing less than the nature of cooperation in human society, his discussion spans history, philosophy and political theory, an unusually multidisciplinary approach for an economics text. Lindblom, a professor of economics and political science at Yale University, also explores the relation of the market system to efficiency, ethics, social equality, power, the natural environment and culture. Posing bold questions such as "[I]s there in our time an alternative to the market system... ?" Lindblom provides refreshingly few definitive answers, making his the most mild-mannered economics book published in some time, as well as one of the most cerebral. (Apr.)

Forecast:Admirably clear and penetrating, this book deserves to find a broad audience interested in an intellectual approach to economics. Unfortunately, since the title sounds dull, the author is little-known to general readers and the book is hard to categorize, it may not achieve the sales it deserves.