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The Great Reversal

How America Gave Up on Free Markets

Thomas Philippon

ISBN 9780674260320

Publication date: 10/19/2021

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A Financial Times Book of the Year
A ProMarket Book of the Year

“Superbly argued and important…Donald Trump is in so many ways a product of the defective capitalism described in The Great Reversal. What the U.S. needs, instead, is another Teddy Roosevelt and his energetic trust-busting. Is that still imaginable? All believers in the virtues of competitive capitalism must hope so.”
—Martin Wolf, Financial Times

“In one industry after another…a few companies have grown so large that they have the power to keep prices high and wages low. It’s great for those corporations—and bad for almost everyone else.”
—David Leonhardt, New York Times

“Argues that the United States has much to gain by reforming how domestic markets work but also much to regain—a vitality that has been lost since the Reagan years…His analysis points to one way of making America great again: restoring our free-market competitiveness.”
—Arthur Herman, Wall Street Journal

Why are cell-phone plans so much more expensive in the United States than in Europe? It seems a simple question, but the search for an answer took one of the world’s leading economists on an unexpected journey through some of the most hotly debated issues in his field. He reached a surprising conclusion: American markets, once a model for the world, are giving up on healthy competition.

In the age of Silicon Valley start-ups and millennial millionaires, he hardly expected this. But the data from his cutting-edge research proved undeniable. In this compelling tale of economic detective work, we follow Thomas Philippon as he works out the facts and consequences of industry concentration, shows how lobbying and campaign contributions have defanged antitrust regulators, and considers what all this means. Philippon argues that many key problems of the American economy are due not to the flaws of capitalism or globalization but to the concentration of corporate power. By lobbying against competition, the biggest firms drive profits higher while depressing wages and limiting opportunities for investment, innovation, and growth. For the sake of ordinary Americans, he concludes, government needs to get back to what it once did best: keeping the playing field level for competition. It’s time to make American markets great—and free—again.

Praise

  • [A] superbly argued and important book. America is no longer the home of the free-market economy…The great obstacle to action in the U.S. is the pervasive role of money in politics. The results are the twin evils of oligopoly and oligarchy…Donald Trump is in so many ways a product of the defective capitalism described in The Great Reversal. What the U.S. needs, instead, is another Teddy Roosevelt and his energetic trust-busting. Is that still imaginable? All believers in the virtues of competitive capitalism must hope so.

    —Martin Wolf, Financial Times

Author

  • Thomas Philippon is the Max L. Heine Professor of Finance at the Stern School of Business, New York University. He was named one of the top 25 economists under 45 by the IMF and won the Bernácer Prize for Best European Economist. He currently serves as an academic advisor to the Financial Stability Board and to the Hong Kong Institute for Monetary and Financial Research. He was previously an advisor to the New York Federal Reserve Bank and a board member of the French prudential regulatory authority.

Book Details

  • 368 pages
  • 5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches
  • Belknap Press

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