A Capitalism for the People by Luigi Zingales
Recapturing the Lost Genius of American Prosperity

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Born in Italy, University of Chicago economist Luigi Zingales witnessed firsthand the consequences of high inflation and unemployment—paired with rampant nepotism and cronyism—on a country’s economy. This experience profoundly shaped his professional interests, and in 1988 he arrived in the United States, armed with a political passion and the belief that economists should not merely interpret the world, but should change it for the better.
In A Capitalism for the People, Zingales makes a forceful, philosophical, and at times personal argument that the roots of American capitalism are dying, and that the result is a drift toward the more corrupt systems found throughout Europe and much of the rest of the world. American capitalism, according to Zingales, grew in a unique incubator that provided it with a distinct flavor of competitiveness, a meritocratic nature that fostered trust in markets and a faith in mobility. Lately, however, that trust has been eroded by a betrayal of our pro-business elites, whose lobbying has come to dictate the market rather than be subject to it, and this betrayal has taken place with the complicity of our intellectual class.

Because of this trend, much of the country is questioning—often with great anger—whether the system that has for so long buoyed their hopes has now betrayed them once and for all. What we are left with is either anti-market pitchfork populism or pro-business technocratic insularity. Neither of these options presents a way to preserve what the author calls “the lighthouse” of American capitalism. Zingales argues that the way forward is pro-market populism, a fostering of truly free and open competition for the good of the people—not for the good of big business.

Drawing on the historical record of American populism at the turn of the twentieth century, Zingales illustrates how our current circumstances aren’t all that different. People in the middle and at the bottom are getting squeezed, while people at the top are only growing richer. The solutions now, as then, are reforms to economic policy that level the playing field. Reforms that may be anti-business (specifically anti-big business), but are squarely pro-market. The question is whether we can once again muster the courage to confront the powers that be.


About Luigi Zingales

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Luigi Zingales is the Robert C. McCormack Professor of Entrepreneurship and Finance at the University of Chicago's Booth School of Business. He is a faculty research fellow for the National Bureau of Economic Research, a research fellow for the Center for Economic Policy Research and a fellow for the European Governance Institute. He is the Lead Independent Director of Telecom Italia and the Vice President of the American Finance Association. He is the co-author of Saving Capitalism from the Capitalists and a contributing editor of City Journal. He lives in Chicago with his wife and children.
Published June 5, 2012 by Basic Books. 336 pages
Genres: Business & Economics, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction

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Publishers Weekly

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Zingales, a finance professor at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business and coauthor of Saving Capitalism from the Capitalists, presents a striking dichotomy: most Americans endorse the free market system, but fear the power of big business.

Apr 23 2012 | Read Full Review of A Capitalism for the People: ...

City Book Review

(On the question of the college debt crisis for incoming college students, the author quotes his excellent op-ed piece in the New York Times [June 13, 2012] in which he describes the college graduate as “a ‘collateral’ denoting the fact that one must eliminate government subsidies and tie tuition...

Sep 11 2012 | Read Full Review of A Capitalism for the People: ...

The Loyola Law School Los Angeles, Faculty blog.

In the preface to A Capitalism for the People, Luigi Zingales recounts his departure from an Italian university for the wonderland of American academia.

Sep 17 2012 | Read Full Review of A Capitalism for the People: ...

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