The Surprising Design of Market Economies by Alex Marshall, Hardcover | Barnes & Noble
The Surprising Design of Market Economies

The Surprising Design of Market Economies

by Alex Marshall
     
 

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The "free market" has been a hot topic of debate for decades. Proponents tout it as a cure-all for just about everything that ails modern society, while opponents blame it for the very same ills. But the heated rhetoric obscures one very important, indeed fundamental, fact—markets don't just run themselves; we create them.

Starting from this surprisingly

Overview

The "free market" has been a hot topic of debate for decades. Proponents tout it as a cure-all for just about everything that ails modern society, while opponents blame it for the very same ills. But the heated rhetoric obscures one very important, indeed fundamental, fact—markets don't just run themselves; we create them.

Starting from this surprisingly simple, yet often ignored or misunderstood fact, Alex Marshall takes us on a fascinating tour of the fundamentals that shape markets and, through them, our daily economic lives. He debunks the myth of the "free market," showing how markets could not exist without governments to create the structures through which we assert ownership of property, real and intellectual, and conduct business of all kinds. Marshall also takes a wide-ranging look at many other structures that make markets possible, including physical infrastructure ranging from roads and railroads to water systems and power lines; mental and cultural structures such as common languages and bodies of knowledge; and the international structures that allow goods, services, cash, bytes, and bits to flow freely around the globe.

Sure to stimulate a lively public conversation about the design of markets, this broadly accessible overview of how a market economy is constructed will help us create markets that are fairer, more prosperous, more creative, and more beautiful.

Editorial Reviews

New York Times
"Offers keen insights into urban planning, public works, and even the history of New York’s onetime ambivalence toward a professional police force."
Huffington Post
"Conventional economics wittingly or unwittingly provides cover for the One Percent, by professing that ‘the market’ operates benevolently on its own. Alex Marshall gives us an entertaining, thoughtful, and well-written antidote to this dangerous abstraction."
Library Journal
Markets are created by people and can be changed by people. As journalist Marshall (Beneath the Metropolis: The Secret Lives of Cities) argues, markets neither spring suddenly into being nor should they be set free—rather, they are designed within physical, legal, and cultural structures. He challenges readers to reevaluate common misconceptions about market economies by examining the building blocks of society. With his careful analysis of the history of law, infrastructure, education, and culture, Marshall shows how these forces influence market formation and make economic life possible. The chapter on cooperatives versus corporations is especially interesting. With this book, Marshall hopes to shift popular thinking away from market regulation to market design, which he believes will help create a more prosperous society. VERDICT For readers willing to challenge the status quo, this book will wrap their minds around a new way of thinking about markets and economies.—Bonnie A. Tollefson, Cleveland Bradley Cty. P.L., TN

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780292717770
Publisher:
University of Texas Press
Publication date:
09/01/2012
Pages:
274
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.26(h) x 1.03(d)

What People are saying about this

Ha-Joon Chang
"This book debunks the free market orthodoxy that markets are ‘natural’ things that should not be meddled with. Taking us through history from the Athenian ‘owl’ coin to the Founding Fathers, from the American Civil War to Korean economic development, from Gone with the Wind to the Sundance Film Festival, the book shows how all markets are actually built upon carefully designed ‘artificial’ structures. Having read the book, you will not be able to spread Land O’Lakes butter on your bread or drive along Route 66 in the same way as you used to. An eye-opener."
David Morris
"We make the rules and the rules make us. So argues Alex Marshall in this brilliant and fascinating exploration of the nature and human design of markets. A must read."
Dean Baker
"Marshall is asking the right questions by focusing on the structure of the market. Unfortunately, most economic policy discussions treat market structure as a given and then ask whether the market in its existing structure should be left alone or subject to some form of regulation. The right question is whether the market could be structured better in the first place."

Meet the Author

From the way roads and rails shape our cities to the way laws shape our economies, Alex Marshall has long sought and explored the underlying systems that shape our worlds. A journalist, writer, and former Loeb Fellow at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design, he is the author of How Cities Work: Suburbs, Sprawl, and the Roads Not Taken and Beneath the Metropolis: The Secret Lives of Cities. Marshall is a Senior Fellow at the Regional Plan Association in New York. His work has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Metropolis, Planning, the Washington Post, the Boston Globe, Slate, Salon, Architecture, Revue Urbanisme, and many other publications.

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