Capitalism – Money, Morals and Markets by John Plender

Plender is a journalist on the Financial Times, a London-based newspaper and probably the best and most highbrow among the notoriously corrupt and degraded British print media.

This is a very enjoyable read, if, like me, you are interested in economic history and in understanding the moral tensions in the capitalist system. The best thing about the book is his use of quotes, from Marx, Goethe, Keynes and many others. He does an excellent job of bringing to business and economics the insights of the artistic and literary imagination.

At times it reads like an assembly of his (very good) journalism but it also avoids technicalities and highlights the big moral questions facing modern capitalism, in fresh and engaging ways. He ends with a lukewarm endorsement of capitalism, drawing on Churchill’s famous observation about democracy, and saying that it is the worst possible way of organising human affairs, except for all the others.

A very readable analysis of the problems facing capitalism, which avoids technical language and embraces philosophical and artistic perspectives.


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