The corruption of capitalismDecember 2010
Richard Duncan. CLSA Books. Paperback. 228 pgs. £16 / $25.
Richard Duncan is that rare thing – an unequivocal economist. His diagnosis of our current problems is that the economic crisis confronting the US – and therefore the world – is not cyclical but structural.
His medicine is that the US should spend $3trillion on ‘industries of the future’, such as solar power, nano-technology and biotechnology. This would result in the US having new world-leading industries that create employment, generate taxes, and recover the trade imbalance.
Solar has the added advantage of energy independence and mitigating the 40 per cent of the trade imbalance spent on energy. Duncan could also have singled out electric cars, but perhaps it is too late for the US to take the lead in this.
He also wants banks turned into mini-utilities, restrictions on the size of investment banking businesses, a forced downsizing of the derivatives industry, and the shutting down of tax havens.
On the political front he advocates one fixed term for all lawmakers so that lobbyists have no hold over them, and a gradual enforcement of a global minimum wage by imposing import tariffs on countries that do not comply.
This is a clear and informative book that pulls no punches, and it comes forward with many good ideas on how to restructure the US economy.
Sadly, most of Duncan’s solutions are too radical to gain general acceptance at present, even though they make eminent sense. One day, perhaps.
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