Lobbyists and political insiders make millions from their personal connections to an ever-expanding federal government, while members of a struggling middle class watch their life savings disappear with the burst of the housing bubble. Banks post record profits while costing taxpayers billions in bailouts. Americans on both ends of the political spectrum—from the Tea Party to the Occupy Wall Street movement—have come to the same conclusion: American capitalism is in crisis.
When the Italian-born economist Luigi Zingales first came to the United States to study economics in the 1980s, he embraced the American Dream: the belief that what brings you success is hard work, not luck or who you know. Our unique history and style of capitalism have made even our poor rich, by global standards.
But the economic events of the past decade, combined with the actions of politicians from both major political parties, have undermined capitalism’s reputation. Now, living in America’s heartland and teaching at one of the nation’s most free-market business schools, Zingales warns in A Capitalism for the People that the U.S. economy risks deteriorating into a Berlusconi-style crony-capitalist system—pro-business rather than pro-market, and run by corrupt politicians who are more concerned with lining the pockets of the connected elite than with improving opportunity for the people. If this perverted arrangement persists, can true capitalism ever gain the popular support it needs to survive?
Zingales combines his pro-market perspective and transatlantic vantage point to craft a blueprint for recovery. His real-world recommendations for restoring true competition to our economic system give hope that the U.S. can not only avoid the fate of Italy and Greece but rebound to greatness, transmitting the proven advantages of American-style capitalism to ordinary people at home, and around the world.