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Capitalism is, to an extent, under siege. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has declared it “a blatant failure”, while Britain’s Theresa May has talked about the “unacceptable face of capitalism”.
Free trade, one of the cornerstones of capitalist models, has been under attack by the rise of protectionist policies, most notably those of the US government under President Donald Trump.
A couple of weeks back on our markets and economics podcast Devils and Details we featured Variant Perception’s Jonathan Tepper, whose new book “The Myth of Capitalism” argues that capitalist economies are frequently characterised by oligopolies and even effective monopolies, despite the apparent strong competition in all sorts of industries from airlines to supermarkets to digital advertising.
Eugenie Joseph is a senior policy analyst at the Centre for Independent Studies who is looking at this from another angle: that while capitalism has flaws, it has been hugely effective over time in improving life outcomes for billions of people. On this latest episode, she joins us to talk about the tension between rising sympathy for socialism as a system and the failure to defend capitalism in all sorts of quarters. It’s a topic covered in a new policy paper she’s published titled “Why we should defend capitalism.”
One of the things that Joseph’s paper cautions against is crony capitalism and special treatment of companies, one of the obvious causes of public disillusionment in advanced economies. She argues governments ought to be pro-markets rather than pro-business which all kicks off an extended discussion of the benefits and obvious shortcomings of capitalism.
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