Saturday, 24 July 2010

Capitalism 4.0

I am one of those people who read the newspapers from the back to the front. First the sports pages, then the business section, then the editorial and comment, and finally onto the news. I don’t know why I do this – I always have. Perhaps this backwards approach best reflects my interests? I have found that I am starting to do the same with books now. I tend to look at the concluding chapters first. If I find the conclusions interesting, then I might read the introductory chapters to frame the conclusion, and then, if still interested, the bulk of the book for the supporting argument.

I was recently killing time in Logan Airport, Boston (USA - not Lincolnshire) when I came across Anatole Kaletsky’s new book ‘Capitalism 4.0’. Mr Kaletsky is one of those writers who immediately has my attention. As I had a bundle of dollars in my pocket, as they are of limited use to me in the UK, and as I had time on my hands, I bought the book. My flight was overnight, so I only read the concluding chapters. They seem to contain something useful, something sufficiently interesting for me to take the book on holiday to examine the full argument.

The main thesis of the book is that something substantial has occurred in the recent financial crisis. We call it ‘The End Of The Washington Consensus’. The timing of this event varies between commentators. Those in the US date it at the collapse of Lehman Brothers, those in the UK date it from the nationalisation of Northern Rock. Either way, from that point onwards, things would be different.

What we do not know is how they will be different, and this is the contribution of the book. Mr Kaletsky takes a much longer view of the economy and starts to speculate about what comes next, which is exactly what we, as futurists, have been doing for the past couple of years. This is why we commend the book. It is not a map of the future, but it does serve as a guide into some fairly uncharted territory. If you are of the opinion that ‘back to business as usual’ is not an option, then this book is a good starting point for you.

Book review from The Economist.

© The European Futures Observatory 2010

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