web site hit counter Radical Markets: Uprooting Capitalism and Democracy for a Just Society - Ebooks PDF Online
Hot Best Seller

Radical Markets: Uprooting Capitalism and Democracy for a Just Society

Availability: Ready to download

Revolutionary ideas on how to use markets to bring about fairness and prosperity for all Many blame today's economic inequality, stagnation, and political instability on the free market. The solution is to rein in the market, right? Radical Markets turns this thinking--and pretty much all conventional thinking about markets, both for and against--on its head. The book revea Revolutionary ideas on how to use markets to bring about fairness and prosperity for all Many blame today's economic inequality, stagnation, and political instability on the free market. The solution is to rein in the market, right? Radical Markets turns this thinking--and pretty much all conventional thinking about markets, both for and against--on its head. The book reveals bold new ways to organize markets for the good of everyone. It shows how the emancipatory force of genuinely open, free, and competitive markets can reawaken the dormant nineteenth-century spirit of liberal reform and lead to greater equality, prosperity, and cooperation. Eric Posner and Glen Weyl demonstrate why private property is inherently monopolistic, and how we would all be better off if private ownership were converted into a public auction for public benefit. They show how the principle of one person, one vote inhibits democracy, suggesting instead an ingenious way for voters to effectively influence the issues that matter most to them. They argue that every citizen of a host country should benefit from immigration--not just migrants and their capitalist employers. They propose leveraging antitrust laws to liberate markets from the grip of institutional investors and creating a data labor movement to force digital monopolies to compensate people for their electronic data. Only by radically expanding the scope of markets can we reduce inequality, restore robust economic growth, and resolve political conflicts. But to do that, we must replace our most sacred institutions with truly free and open competition--Radical Markets shows how.


Compare

Revolutionary ideas on how to use markets to bring about fairness and prosperity for all Many blame today's economic inequality, stagnation, and political instability on the free market. The solution is to rein in the market, right? Radical Markets turns this thinking--and pretty much all conventional thinking about markets, both for and against--on its head. The book revea Revolutionary ideas on how to use markets to bring about fairness and prosperity for all Many blame today's economic inequality, stagnation, and political instability on the free market. The solution is to rein in the market, right? Radical Markets turns this thinking--and pretty much all conventional thinking about markets, both for and against--on its head. The book reveals bold new ways to organize markets for the good of everyone. It shows how the emancipatory force of genuinely open, free, and competitive markets can reawaken the dormant nineteenth-century spirit of liberal reform and lead to greater equality, prosperity, and cooperation. Eric Posner and Glen Weyl demonstrate why private property is inherently monopolistic, and how we would all be better off if private ownership were converted into a public auction for public benefit. They show how the principle of one person, one vote inhibits democracy, suggesting instead an ingenious way for voters to effectively influence the issues that matter most to them. They argue that every citizen of a host country should benefit from immigration--not just migrants and their capitalist employers. They propose leveraging antitrust laws to liberate markets from the grip of institutional investors and creating a data labor movement to force digital monopolies to compensate people for their electronic data. Only by radically expanding the scope of markets can we reduce inequality, restore robust economic growth, and resolve political conflicts. But to do that, we must replace our most sacred institutions with truly free and open competition--Radical Markets shows how.

30 review for Radical Markets: Uprooting Capitalism and Democracy for a Just Society

  1. 4 out of 5

    Ben

    This book introduces five provocative ideas for major economic and political reforms: a common-ownership self-assessed tax (COST) for taxing property, quadratic voting for political influence, a visas between individuals program (VIP) for liberalizing immigration, breaking up institutional investors' ability to own large stakes across an industry, and vague digital unions so "technoserfs" are paid for their digital labor. The arguments for the proposals get steadily weaker through the book, to t This book introduces five provocative ideas for major economic and political reforms: a common-ownership self-assessed tax (COST) for taxing property, quadratic voting for political influence, a visas between individuals program (VIP) for liberalizing immigration, breaking up institutional investors' ability to own large stakes across an industry, and vague digital unions so "technoserfs" are paid for their digital labor. The arguments for the proposals get steadily weaker through the book, to the point that the authors are clearly far beyond their comfort range in the "technofeudalism" chapter (e.g., they put virtual reality as a kind of machine learning, they posit insane numbers for the marginal value of data—saying that Facebook should be willing to pay $15 for someone to confirm that two of his friends have indeed broken up—and so on). Unfortunately, this leaves me distrusting the authors' expertise in the other chapters as well. I wanted to like the book. The common-ownership self-assessed tax idea is provocative and exciting, and deserves to be better known. Quadratic voting is also interesting. However, I think you can get most of the books' ideas more efficiently from listening to the Econtalk podcast with one of the authors, http://www.econtalk.org/archives/2018... . Beyond this podcast, the book adds a poorly written science-fiction vignette at the beginning of each chapter, some history (that you probably already know), and slightly repetitive elaboration of the ideas. It is not poorly written, but it would be better if it were more focused, and perhaps edited to a long magazine article.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jeff

    Absolutely the most insufferable book I have read in years, and I have an ulterior motive to like it since I'm cited in it. Somehow despite living in the US, on earth, for several decades, the authors have not gotten the memo that RICH PEOPLE IMMEDIATELY GET TO WORK RIGGING ANY SOCIAL STRUCTURE THE MOMENT IT COMES INTO EXISTENCE. And that the one and only solution that has consistently worked historically is CLASS STRUGGLE. Instead of recognizing this to any degree whatsoever, the authors instea Absolutely the most insufferable book I have read in years, and I have an ulterior motive to like it since I'm cited in it. Somehow despite living in the US, on earth, for several decades, the authors have not gotten the memo that RICH PEOPLE IMMEDIATELY GET TO WORK RIGGING ANY SOCIAL STRUCTURE THE MOMENT IT COMES INTO EXISTENCE. And that the one and only solution that has consistently worked historically is CLASS STRUGGLE. Instead of recognizing this to any degree whatsoever, the authors instead propose a bunch of mechanism design concoctions that are ~10x more complicated than our current economic market designs, and thus ~10x easier for the rich to rig while the poor suffer what they must.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Daniel Roberts

    From its Table of Contents, “Radical Markets” might seem to be a meandering hodgepodge of thought experiments. Each chapter elaborates on specific and unexpected areas where “radical markets” might be introduced in their current absence, but the interrelation of these case studies and policy proposals can appear tenuous. Book projects in the social sciences are typically deep elaborations on a tight substantive areas. However, the contrasting breadth of “Radical Markets” isn’t an overreach beyon From its Table of Contents, “Radical Markets” might seem to be a meandering hodgepodge of thought experiments. Each chapter elaborates on specific and unexpected areas where “radical markets” might be introduced in their current absence, but the interrelation of these case studies and policy proposals can appear tenuous. Book projects in the social sciences are typically deep elaborations on a tight substantive areas. However, the contrasting breadth of “Radical Markets” isn’t an overreach beyond appropriate area-expertise. Rather, each topic and chapter maps to ongoing published papers and academic projects, reflecting the span of the authors’ recent research careers. Modern economics increasingly occupies itself with tight empirical identification and meticulous mathematical models. Meanwhile, Posner and Weyl audaciously use “Radical Markets” to expound on topics like the inherent justifiability of private property or equal-vote democracy. The key to understanding this approach — and the authors’ research agendas generally — lies in the book’s introduction and conclusion. There, Posner and Weyl harken back to a cast of figures that they dub the “Philosophical Radicals”, including post-enlightenment Political Economists like Adam Smith, David Ricardo, John Stuart Mill, and Henry George, as well as more controversial thinkers like Karl Marx (*collective gasp*) and Ludwig von Mises (*aghast gasp*). In orthodox economics, these figures are treated like Pre-Newtonian physicists or medieval scholastics. In heterodox circles, they serve as rallying points for hopelessly opposed camps of partisans. Posner and Weyl instead evoke these thinkers for their common commitment to questioning the inefficient public institutions of their day, no matter how entrenched and inevitable they may have seemed. Even though the modern liberal democratic order is a product of these thinkers’ astounding success, the authors suggest that our present day calls for its own cadre of questioning “Radical Philosophers” with unexpected disruptive ideas. Among those the authors dub the “technocratic middle”, this exercise might seem unnecessary. Modern “neoliberal” types seem to take Fukuyama’s “end of history” seriously in its broad strokes. When I glossed the premise of “Radical Markets” to one such friend (pursuing an economics PhD), he suggested that we’re in an era of diminishing marginal returns for new ideas — better to carefully tinker and keep the machine of modernity humming along. Posner and Weyl destabilize this intellectual complacency in “Radical Markets”. First, they use their introduction to synthesize a wealth of contemporary research suggesting that the liberal order is threatened by rising inequality, stagnation, polarization, nativism, and coercive market power. In the “meat” of the work that follows, the authors convincingly argue that institutions we take for granted are both hopelessly inefficient/inequitable and theoretically substitutable. The authors argue that these alternative — including continuous auctions for property and an alternative voting scheme based on the Vickrey-Clarke-Groves mechanism — could both help address present social ills and build towards a brighter future that’s inconceivable in the same way today’s world would have seemed far-fetched in the 18th century. “Radical Markets” doesn’t provide a flawless utopian vision for tomorrow’s brave new world. The authors openly demur on the merit of their proposals, suggesting a gradual and iterative path for implementation to help forestall the disasters that occur when humans act unexpectedly in new institutional settings. This seems advisable. The concerns of critics on both ethical and practical grounds are worth listening to. Care should be taken in pursuing alternatives to systems that presently provide a basic bulwark against inefficiency or violations of human rights. Posner and Weyl, however, are right to point out the status quo is already a moral disaster on many dimensions, inattentive as it is to unjustly appropriated wealth, violations of meaningful minority rights, and abhorrent intra- and international income inequality. The authors are shouting from their platform that the Emperor has no clothes, and suggesting he put on a coat. Critics may argue vehemently for pants instead, but have basically ceded to the authors’ premise that present public institutions are unjustifiable and ought to be uprooted for a more just society. I’ve been exposed to most of the ideas covered in “Radical Markets” ahead of time through lectures, working papers, op-eds, and casual conversations. My first reaction is usually dismissive, given how decently capitalism and democracy seem to be doing in their broad strokes. In the months and years that followed these encounters, Posner and Weyl’s ideas have come to roost and relentlessly gnaw at this initial skepticism, especially when I’m forced to reckon with the many failings of the present liberal order. I’d encourage other doubtful readers to let the ideas presented here stew in a similar fashion before jumping to conclusions. The parallel to Socrates introduced earlier fits in the following sense: some of Posner and Weyl’s proposals may smack of dystopia in the same way his ideal “Republic” does, and perhaps justifiably so in cases. However, taking the time to engage seriously with the authors’ ideas can leave anyone feeling a little bit like Socrates’ unfortunate interlocutors, and they will be made better thinkers for it. In a world where little matters like ideas do, “Radical Markets” provides the most articulate and accessible package of the authors’ radical ideas to date. Therefore, I enthusiastically recommend picking up a copy, and hope you find the journey as thought-provoking as I have. A fuller review can be found on my blog

  4. 4 out of 5

    Athan Tolis

    So I ordered this without paying enough attention to notice that, for all his references to Gary Becker in the introduction, co-author Eric Posner is… my age! Turns out he’s the son of judge Richard Posner, from whose text, along with Polinsky’s, my teacher Keith Hylton introduced me to the subject of Law and Economics some thirty (gulp!) years ago and whose blog with Gary Becker was such a joy to read until Becker’s recent passing. Eric Posner and his co-author Glen Weyl start by surveying the st So I ordered this without paying enough attention to notice that, for all his references to Gary Becker in the introduction, co-author Eric Posner is… my age! Turns out he’s the son of judge Richard Posner, from whose text, along with Polinsky’s, my teacher Keith Hylton introduced me to the subject of Law and Economics some thirty (gulp!) years ago and whose blog with Gary Becker was such a joy to read until Becker’s recent passing. Eric Posner and his co-author Glen Weyl start by surveying the state of the post-2008 world and stating that our economics and our politics have reached the end of the line. Now, they argue, is the time for some radical ideas. There are, indeed, lots of non-standard ideas here. Hacks, more like. Some are, frankly, duds. One, just one, is solid gold! Hack number one aims to unlock the economy’s potential for growth by setting underutilized assets free. It is dubbed COST for “common-ownership self-assessed tax” and the idea is that nobody really ought to own anything in permanence. The scheme works as follows: if you’re sitting on an asset you need to let the world know what it’s worth and you must pay tax on that assessment of its value. Crucially, everybody else is allowed to buy it from you at the price at which you’ve assessed it! As a result, the asset is always being used by whoever (thinks he) can put it to its best use and society is always earning a cut. The thing is, before John Lennon sang “Imagine no possessions” the Beatles first sang “I, me, mine.” Even leaving to one side the fact that this idea is rather “coercive” (as the authors most certainly do!) it’s also rather impractical, because it turns every citizen into a trader. Some of us are good traders, but is that a good use of everybody’s time? And there’s the issue of deciding upfront what the typical lifetime of an asset can be. Plus the fact that many assets require upkeep of the kind you’d try to avoid if your tenure as the custodian was uncertain. There are myriads of other impracticalities; indeed the authors dedicate pages 64 to 66 addressing a number of them, but just as they are discussing how to solve one problem a keen reader can think of another. Example: to circumvent the fact that many assets are owned on a leveraged basis, the authors suggest that loans must automatically move with property. Erm, right there, that’s the end of banking, the activity of lending chiefly against character, rather than collateral. I could go on… Hack number two is “quadratic voting.” The idea is to allocate to every citizen a bunch of votes and then allow you to save your vote on one or more issues and allow you to use multiple votes on another, with the caveat that you can only influence the outcome by the square root of your voting power. So the square root of one is one, but if you are allocating sixteen votes to something you really care about, then it only counts as four votes. It’s a neat trick, because that way majorities who don’t really care about a subject can get outvoted on this subject by minorities who actually do. The minority who does so, however, has to give up on the other things on which it can’t vote. Again, the idea sounds fantastic (and the associated math, whereby the cost of an externality grows with the square of the externality itself, is rather convincing), but the practicalities are daunting. How many issues do we really vote on to begin with, how does one go about allocating votes to people and over what period? How many votes do people get for President and how many for local school council? How should we deal with surprise elections? Suppose we’ve solved all those problems, bigger ones arise: once we’ve broken one-man-one-vote, have we not opened pandora’s box? This could be the thin edge of the wedge in terms of introducing all sorts of ways to disenfranchise the underprivileged or the poor. Even more importantly, those of us who can do the math know that on the margin our vote will rarely swing any results. We chiefly vote out of civic duty. In my view, schemes that assign weights to votes undermine this principle. The third hack, Visas Between Individuals Program (VIP) would allow each citizen to bring to the country an immigrant for a fixed period of time on a pre-agreed stipend and to earn for himself any money the immigrant would make in the host country in excess of the pre-agreed stipend. The idea is that everybody comes out of this better and that the people of the host country benefit directly from immigration, rather than read in textbooks that it’s a good thing….. Erm, where do I start with this brilliant idea? I almost stopped reading right there, but thank goodness I didn’t, because hack number four (no more implementable than hacks one, two or three) aims to solve an important problem of twenty-first century capitalism that has a much deeper and much more concentrated cause than I ever realized. Long story short, if you ever come across “Radical Markets,” go straight to page 168 where the authors give the answer to one of the big unsolved mysteries of modern finance. To wit, anybody you ask what’s wrong about twenty-first century capitalism in America will list at least one of the following: 1. Market Power, the result of continuing mergers eliminating competition among companies in every sector both for our custom and to employ us. 2. Lack of investment, as companies increasingly prefer to buy back their own shares, rather than invest in capital and human capital. 3. Inequality, as CEOs benefit from said buybacks via their share option schemes, while everybody else is left with fewer options in terms of picking employers. The authors explain that a major contributor to this malaise is the fact that at least thirty percent of all stocks are owned by indexers and quasi-indexers such as Fidelity, Vanguard, Blackrock etc. The main thing these companies need is the stock index to go up and they don’t even need to exercise their substantial voting power to force it up. CEOs know that to keep their jobs they need to get the share price to go up now, and who cares about later. As part of the bargain, their own share options make them millionaires, while the ones who get forced out have the consolation of a golden parachute. The hack the authors propose is simple: no investor with more than 1% of the market should have more than one holding per sector! “Good luck with that one,” I hear you say, but God knows it would do the trick: these players would suddenly need to win in the marketplace! Hack number five isn’t much of a hack: the authors observe that while we have a way to unionize as workers, we have not found a way to do so as providers of our own data to Google and Facebook. “Datapoints of the world, unite” they scream, but I read the chapter and I could not find any concrete proposals, not even of the unworkable variety… Finally come the chapters that attempt to tie it all together. Whether you agree or disagree with the authors, there is no denying that the two of them are still looking for a unifying theory. You read this book and you hope they can somehow pull these seeds of ideas together, but they decidedly don’t! Five or six “hacks,” even if they are good hacks, do not amount to redefining the field of Economics. So this was a fun read that kept me on my toes, taught me stuff and even came with a major “aha” moment, but it wasn’t worth the praise lavished on it by the luminaries on the back cover. It would be an amazingly dangerous first book in Economics for a layman, let’s put it that way.

  5. 5 out of 5

    John Mihelic

    When this came out, the real focus was on the immigration proposal that was more or less slavery with extra steps. Then there was also the part where all property is continually for sale. I wasn't sympathetic to most of the proposals they had in here - one, quantum voting sounds interesting but can also feel full of holes once you start asking questions - because they feel like some sort of rehashed cross between radical libertarianism and public choice. These both have been in practice used as When this came out, the real focus was on the immigration proposal that was more or less slavery with extra steps. Then there was also the part where all property is continually for sale. I wasn't sympathetic to most of the proposals they had in here - one, quantum voting sounds interesting but can also feel full of holes once you start asking questions - because they feel like some sort of rehashed cross between radical libertarianism and public choice. These both have been in practice used as intellectual justification to further marginalize the already marginalized. That is not the state goal here, it is market worship in extremis, but I worry about Market Failure even more when it become your god.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jason Furman

    A brilliant, provocative work that is somewhere along the spectrum between economics and science fiction. The book is framed around a critique of economics that belies its central thrust—which is the unsparing discussion of how various systems straight out of mechanism design but often untethered from any psychological/historical/enforcement/implementation considerations could help make highly rational, utility/profit-maximizing agents better off. Each chapter develops and presents a specific pro A brilliant, provocative work that is somewhere along the spectrum between economics and science fiction. The book is framed around a critique of economics that belies its central thrust—which is the unsparing discussion of how various systems straight out of mechanism design but often untethered from any psychological/historical/enforcement/implementation considerations could help make highly rational, utility/profit-maximizing agents better off. Each chapter develops and presents a specific proposal: (1) abolishing private property and instead making all physical capital and tangible possessions effectively available for rent at any time by anyone that wants them; (2) shifting to “quadratic voting” where people have a budget for votes and can cast a limited number of them; (3) a new immigration system whereby everyone could bring an immigrant to the country to work here; (4) a rule to limit the largest asset managers from owning multiple competitors in an industry; and (5) a new system whereby users of Facebook, Google and other “siren servers” would pay people for the data they generate. The chapters can be read independently of each other but they have a common form (a science fiction vignette about a future society organized along the idea, a political/economic/philosophical/historical grounding for the idea, the economics of the idea, responses to objections, and in some cases a smaller version of the idea to start with). More importantly, they have a common thrust which is to assume people are rational, assume essentially nothing about history or the status quo, and ask how the economy/society could be reconstructed in a radical fashion to give primacy to markets as a way to provide incentives, collect and transmit information, and make collective decisions—but without private property. The book is strong and deep on the economic rationale for its ideas but weak on the objections and tradeoffs and in some cases even on the motivation. Take the opening idea, COST, that all people should declare the value of all of their property, pay a 7% annual tax on it, and anyone else could buy it at cost. This is intended to create a mechanism for the accurate revelation of value because too high and you pay more taxes but too low and you risk it being bought out. But what problem exactly is this solving? Just about the only problem identified by the authors is the hold up problem (or “monopoly problem” in their language), whereby a transportation line doesn’t get built because the last person refuses to sell their house for anything less than the full surplus. It is hard to believe, however, that this is the major reason for the misallocation of capital that Posner and Weyl lament and it seems like an awful lot of effort to solve the problem. Also, how would you shift from the current system to this? How would you force people to disclose all of their complicated assets? Do we care about privacy? How would uncertainty about future ownership affect investment incentives? How would people handle the complexity of the system when they already make systematic errors about much easier financial decisions, like retirement savings? Etc. This is just a few of the points one could ask about one of the chapters. One point to add, largely unrelated to the core chapters, one of the parts of the book I found interesting and novel was the reformulation of some economic issues in terms of computation/computer science instead of economics/math. For example, the discussion of how hard it would actually be to solve the equations you would need to for central planning—along with speculation about what would happen if this ever became possible. Overall, I think there is an important space for books like Radical Markets, there may be a few relatively small applications (spectrum licenses, more effective polling), but worth continuing to think bigger thoughts on the very small chance something with a big payoff does happen to work out. Plus, I like speculative fiction—and this can be read as an outstanding exemplar of the genre.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Sreejith Puthanpurayil

    Though not every idea in this book was fully convincing, the quality of the unique ideas that were was enough to give this 5 stars. Redefining the ownership model of physical property (land, resources, energy, water etc) to an auction-based model is one of those interesting ideas. The idea is that property, as currently defined, acts like a monopoly in the sense that it prohibits others from using that resource to offer more value to society if the owner prohibits from selling it. One can look a Though not every idea in this book was fully convincing, the quality of the unique ideas that were was enough to give this 5 stars. Redefining the ownership model of physical property (land, resources, energy, water etc) to an auction-based model is one of those interesting ideas. The idea is that property, as currently defined, acts like a monopoly in the sense that it prohibits others from using that resource to offer more value to society if the owner prohibits from selling it. One can look at land acquisition costs for large public projects as one example where some sellers would "hold out" selling and jack up their prices causing additional delays and expenditures to the public. Another example in history would be landlords acquiring land through generations, not using that land efficiently and keeping lands fallow even if it could be put to more efficient use by some other means. A continuous auction model would work as follows. Everyone declares the price of their assets. They are taxed at a certain percentage of that (perhaps set close to the average return on capital?) so people are incentivised to not raise their prices over the ideal price. However, if someone proposes buying the asset at a higher price than what is declared, the ownership is transferred to them. Thus people are also incentivised to not lower their prices above what they deem it worth. This would mean that physical property as capital would flow towards whosoever would use it to gain the highest return. The tax would serve to redistribute the returns on this "property". Of course, people are also incentivised to invest in such "property" if they have some assurance that they will own it for some time so Capital could be transferred only after a certain time period. We can balance this investment incentive of capital against its allocative efficiency and decide on the ideal time period for different classes of "property". Another interesting idea is that of quadratic voting in political power. That votes can be distributed as currency and that people can choose to make multiple votes for multiple candidates in any preference order. Though I was aware of the different voting systems available, the concepts of multiple votes as currency creating a market for political power was intriguing. The author proposes that multiple votes would lead to a quadratic root effect on impact so that if I save up 4 votes and use it to vote on a policy decision, I would get 2 effective votes (If I use 9, I would get 3 effective votes etc). Though the author offers some technical reasons for the quadrating voting system, they also show a study where people are asked to vote on different policy debates on both sides of the spectrum in the US (abortion, gun rights etc). People were polarised on their opinions on these debates (fully for or against abortion or gun rights for example) but when they were asked to use a quadratic voting system, the shape of their allocations changed to a more nuanced distribution, caring about some issues not so much as earlier but caring equally (and hence more expensively) about others. There are some more ideas on Immigration, taxing human labour (as opposed to "property") and an interesting epilogue on the future of markets where the author talks about Markets as efficient, parallel, information processing systems (Hayek's Markets) and that, unlike what most economists say, Markets may not be the perfect allocative engines of the future if there were scalable systems that could do it better (AI ?).

  8. 5 out of 5

    Bartosz Pranczke

    What a great food for thought this book is. Very rarely a book dominates my thinking for weeks like Radical Markets managed to do. The book covers topics that we seldom challange in a serious but peaceful way like the taxation system(how to make it more fair but also limit inequalities), voting (is there a better system than democracy), migration, monopolies and the use of data by corporations. The books is worthy 5 stars not because the solutions it gives are perfect (they are not), but because What a great food for thought this book is. Very rarely a book dominates my thinking for weeks like Radical Markets managed to do. The book covers topics that we seldom challange in a serious but peaceful way like the taxation system(how to make it more fair but also limit inequalities), voting (is there a better system than democracy), migration, monopolies and the use of data by corporations. The books is worthy 5 stars not because the solutions it gives are perfect (they are not), but because it provides enough details and context to nudge you into thinking about the fundamentals of the society we live in. Your own thinking is worth all the stars. Do not just read the book, use it as a starting point for your own thinking. I'd love a society that can have a productive discussion about such topics, not just fights and dogmas.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Wendy Liu

    Interesting in places. The authors diagnose some of the political & economic problems we're facing today, but (imo) underestimate their scale/importance. And I'm not convinced by the solutions they propose, which range from the bizarre and frankly unethical (improving the US immigration system by allowing individuals to "import" migrants as indentured servants...?) to the really mundane (changes to voting design, which might be a small step up, but hardly seem radical given the problems diagnose Interesting in places. The authors diagnose some of the political & economic problems we're facing today, but (imo) underestimate their scale/importance. And I'm not convinced by the solutions they propose, which range from the bizarre and frankly unethical (improving the US immigration system by allowing individuals to "import" migrants as indentured servants...?) to the really mundane (changes to voting design, which might be a small step up, but hardly seem radical given the problems diagnosed). The last chapter has some weird, half-baked thoughts on tech companies inferring consumer preferences through machine learning, and how we could run the whole economy that way. A data-obsessed startup founder's wet dream, maybe, the authors don't make a solid case for why this digital surveillance dystopia would be beneficial to anyone else. Overall: worth reading if you're doing research on a related topic. Not recommended for the general reader interested in radical economic policy - this book is light on grand narratives or interesting ideas, and spends way too much time bogged down in the details of their policy proposals.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Vivek

    Absolutely impractical, unworkable technocratic drivel.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Hana

    I was led to this book by the authors' excellent and very thought-provoking article on Liberty versus Monopoly, which argues that the "business-libertarian nexus of the late twentieth and early twenty-first century [so beloved of Silicon Valley types] is an aberration, with a brief history and no future." Lots of great historical perspectives on the evolution of political-economic theory in the US. If the book is as good as this essay it's a must read. https://americanaffairsjournal.org/20... I was led to this book by the authors' excellent and very thought-provoking article on Liberty versus Monopoly, which argues that the "business-libertarian nexus of the late twentieth and early twenty-first century [so beloved of Silicon Valley types] is an aberration, with a brief history and no future." Lots of great historical perspectives on the evolution of political-economic theory in the US. If the book is as good as this essay it's a must read. https://americanaffairsjournal.org/20...

  12. 5 out of 5

    Marks54

    So this law and economics guy walks into a bar ... I had heard some good reviews of this book and put it in my queue. Then someone I told about it got back to me and said it was fairly good - a bit wacky but worth a read. So ... It is actually worth reading. The premise is that market ideas can address some contemporary problems, but only if markets are unleashed and allowed to work in a radical fashion. Then through the magic of mechanism design (and a bunch of math that gets left in the basic re So this law and economics guy walks into a bar ... I had heard some good reviews of this book and put it in my queue. Then someone I told about it got back to me and said it was fairly good - a bit wacky but worth a read. So ... It is actually worth reading. The premise is that market ideas can address some contemporary problems, but only if markets are unleashed and allowed to work in a radical fashion. Then through the magic of mechanism design (and a bunch of math that gets left in the basic reference papers) the real potential for economics to improve life even in the digital ages can be uncovered. This includes how to handle the regidities of private property, the inability of simple voting schemes to take into account the intensity of feelings on key issues, the needs to free trade in people across national boundaries (remember your old au pere), and dealing with the nascent platform monopolists threatening to control the economy by appropriating the value of the data we all produce on such sites as Google or Facebook. ... and while this may not all be practical right now, who knows, given the march of technology and besides, it sure gets you thinking, right? I do not deny the entertaintment value and the book focuses on some interesting ideas. Besides, it is a good introduction to some interesting ideas if you are not up to working through some dense equations by going through the original papers. Do not take the pitch too seriously, however. There is quite a bit of hand waving about how the details can be worked out and need not be covered in the text. Whenever you read that, be certain that the details do matter, that the really hard implementation issues have been pushed aside, and there are some darn good reasons why implementation has been postponed. The same is true with appeals to the need for regulatory fill ins to set the conditions for whatever is being suggested. The paradox is that the “freeest” market goes with quite a bit of regulation to set rules and I would appreciate a discussion of those rules too. The chapter on quadratic voting reads as if the authors are pitching some decision making app that can assist in market research of some sort. The overall argument for how this solves the problems of democracy is highly oversold, especially given recent election results in the US and Europe. Taken as a well written tour of some interesting ideas, the book is fine. I am not holding my breath for more detailed implementation plans. It is a bit too complicated and earnest to sit well in an age of “fake news” and electioneering bots. ... it did have a good beat, however, and I could dance to it.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Alex Cloak

    Probably the most important book of the year, as it provides five clear examples of applying free market economy to solve the most ardent problems of our times, at the behest of common good and social equality. I am confident there will be follow-ups in future writings and hope to see some of the newly proposed solutions applied to a functional economy.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Ramnath Iyer

    Bold burst of fresh air thinking This is book is nothing if not ambitious. To paraphrase the words of the authors Eric Posner and Glen Weyl, they react to the growing populism in the West by “aiming to give people hope based not on giving more power to governments, but on empowering individuals through markets to have more freedom”. Talk about ambition! The aim is nothing less than to use markets to solve a plethora of the world’s woes – from wealth concentration to skewed stock market ownership Bold burst of fresh air thinking This is book is nothing if not ambitious. To paraphrase the words of the authors Eric Posner and Glen Weyl, they react to the growing populism in the West by “aiming to give people hope based not on giving more power to governments, but on empowering individuals through markets to have more freedom”. Talk about ambition! The aim is nothing less than to use markets to solve a plethora of the world’s woes – from wealth concentration to skewed stock market ownership to the rise of automation to immigration to the capture of representative democracy by special interest groups. The lofty goals are not all achieved, and the misses are due to the solutions either being too complicated (anybody for quadratic voting where voting power equals the square root of votes bought by an individual to solve the problems associated with the majoritarianism, apathy or capture by special interest groups?), or too hard to be accepted in the current social mood (try selling the idea that more immigration is good and each individual should have the right to sponsor a certain number of immigrants for a fee!). And in the case of the diatribe against the power of some investment institutions and their impact on the stock market and on the working of capitalism itself, the charges themselves are simply misguided and therefore the solutions a waste of time! Such over-simplification and a slight negligence of social realities are the reason why, despite its intelligent “radicalness”, I am rating it 4 and not 5 stars. But that said, simply because something is too complicated doesn’t make it wrong. In fact, the solutions that M/s Posner/Weyl propose have many things going for them. Yes, they are very much the creation of wonks, but they are also well thought through and the authors more or less do a fair job in examining the various problems that may creep up in their implementation. They are indeed radical, as the lines above on the topics would suggest. Most importantly, they are a breath of urgently needed fresh air addressing issues that are being addressed very poorly by both the Left and the Right, stuck as they are to their equally rigid dogmas. The underlying principle behind most of the solutions proposed here are in distributive efficiency, and in the process while the authors suggest things like allowing votes to be traded (something that any self-respecting liberal may not even be able to imagine) to banning private ownership of assets such as land, instead recommending taxing property-owners based on how dearly they value holding on to their property, something that is sure to make free-marketers cry “Socialists! Commies!” without bothering with the details, logic or even history – after all philosophers such as Henry George had argued this rationale for land tax centuries ago. The book is best read as a series of imaginary lectures, where the reader can almost imagine the authors drawing equations and arrows and diagrams to explain their recommendations and how some part will affect another and what they propose to mitigate, if necessary. In that sense the book is detailed and prescriptive, which is a good idea given the ambitious nature of solutions proposed and their inherent complexities as the rubber of academia meets the real life road. Perhaps local experiments are the best way forward to implement some of these proposals, rather than one-shot large scale adoption.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Finn

    Excellent—more books like this please. It was also very enlightening to read Glen Weyl's recent criticism of their book in his recent blog post: https://www.radicalxchange.org/kiosk/... Excellent—more books like this please. It was also very enlightening to read Glen Weyl's recent criticism of their book in his recent blog post: https://www.radicalxchange.org/kiosk/...

  16. 4 out of 5

    Kelly

    I read this ahead of seeing one of the authors speak at a conference this week. I will leave this at three stars for now and adjust based on what I experience at that conference session. The reason is, these are certainly compelling ideas....but they are really just thought experiments without a pragmatic plan to make any of them happen, even in a pilot phase. So I'm eager to learn how the authors plan to take their ideas forward and make them a reality. A good book to read before or after this o I read this ahead of seeing one of the authors speak at a conference this week. I will leave this at three stars for now and adjust based on what I experience at that conference session. The reason is, these are certainly compelling ideas....but they are really just thought experiments without a pragmatic plan to make any of them happen, even in a pilot phase. So I'm eager to learn how the authors plan to take their ideas forward and make them a reality. A good book to read before or after this one is William Janeway's Doing Capitalism in the Innovation Economy: Reconfiguring the Three-Player Game Between Markets, Speculators and the State. Update: I connected with the author at the aforementioned event and learned more about his plan to turn ideas like these, and other open market mechanisms, into experiments and eventually realize them at scale. RadicalXChange is their platform to take these concepts further. Rating updated accordingly!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Ryan

    Overall, one of the best books I've ever read. Basically describes ways markets could be used to increase economic inefficiency, decrease inequality (and in particular, increase the proportion of rewards going to productive labor vs. accumulated capital), and fix various systems (political and social). Largely an extension of the ideas of William S. Vickrey. Things I particularly liked about the book: a credible argument against "conventional" Georgist land-value tax (difficulties in valuation), Overall, one of the best books I've ever read. Basically describes ways markets could be used to increase economic inefficiency, decrease inequality (and in particular, increase the proportion of rewards going to productive labor vs. accumulated capital), and fix various systems (political and social). Largely an extension of the ideas of William S. Vickrey. Things I particularly liked about the book: a credible argument against "conventional" Georgist land-value tax (difficulties in valuation), and an interesting alternative. A superior form of voting (accumulated/bankable votes). "Quadratic" increases in cost for certain policy preferences (such as reducing pollution, or regulations. An interesting immigration scheme where individuals could sponsor foreign workers, gaining a portion of their income, to more broadly distribute the benefits of immigration along with costs. The chapter on data (data sovereignty, data markets, etc.) seemed pretty weak in comparison to the rest of the book (ironic given the background of the authors), and detracted from the whole. One interesting element was prefacing each chapter with a fictional story of what life would be like under their proposed rules -- more abstract policy arguments should include these. There were a lot of flaws with the specific proposals they make, and overall I think for most private property, taxation is theft, and their taxing schemes were in some ways even more immoral than the status quo (personal/portable property being taxed in such a way that third parties could forcibly purchase it for the declared value at any time seems rife for malicious exploitation by trolls, or effective censorship of unpopular people), but they propose testing in much less challenging environments (such as as an alternative way to distribute public assets like radio spectrum or resource exploitation on public property), which I'd support. I strongly recommend this book.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Ozzie Gooen

    I like what they are aiming for. Unsure about the specific mentioned proposals, but hope that this is the start of a much more significant body of work.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Nilesh

    The book’s last chapter should have been its first. What I write in the next few paragraphs is based on the topic in the chapter. The descriptions are to preface what the authors attempt in the book although they are mostly mine. Economic societies are highly complex systems. With millions of variables and unknown equations, there is no easy way to optimize them. As various communist experiences proved at high costs, any central body that tries to manage an economy top-down by allocating resourc The book’s last chapter should have been its first. What I write in the next few paragraphs is based on the topic in the chapter. The descriptions are to preface what the authors attempt in the book although they are mostly mine. Economic societies are highly complex systems. With millions of variables and unknown equations, there is no easy way to optimize them. As various communist experiences proved at high costs, any central body that tries to manage an economy top-down by allocating resources, guiding economic activities and planning is bound to fail because of the inherent complexities. In math talk, the equations are too numerous and too lengthy for a decent solution set to emerge from rudimentary solution attempts. Somewhat mysteriously, “free market” (quotes important and explained later) forces end up providing boundary conditions (through price-driven mechanisms) that cause some decent economic solution to emerge. The empirical proof is clear: market provided solutions - in the form of economic growth or human welfare they have created - have done far better than everything else in the last hundred years. As a result, proponents of free-market theories feel justified in their belief that open markets and capitalism are the only way to run an economy. This is a deeply flawed assumption. Continuing with the math talk, latest technologies have repeatedly made complex equations we could never attempt before more solvable now. In other cases, we have been able to increase the level of optimization with more processing power and information. “Free markets” are never truly free. In fact, there are myriads of ways in which one can design a “free market” capitalistic system and there is no way to know whether anyone leads any locally optimal solution, let alone a globally optimal or a perfect solution (let’s say measured in terms of highest quality, best economic growth for everyone without externalities). The fact, rather, is that capitalism - as it exists - is failing on many fronts. And with the tools and data at our disposal, we must attempt to at least develop systems better than what we have. If we open our minds to incremental tinkering, over and above the basic market-based systems in existence, we could engineer some quick society-wide improvements worldwide. The five radical ideas are definitely radical. This reviewer has reservations against all of them. Yet, the book not only makes one think but also takes great strides in pointing new ways. For the record, let me briefly explain my one biggest problem with each of the suggestion below: - A self-assessed tax system could massively increase the power of the wealthy and worsen inequality. Those with deep pockets could keep accumulating small pieces of land/capital at prices smallholders can barely sustain (given the taxes they need to pay). The big parties’ ability to scale-up after hoarding could intensify inequality substantially given the value they ascribe to any capital (post the scaling) is far more than what smallholders could ascribe on their utility and cashflow driven constraints. - Quadratic voting: why quadratic? Why not some other system - say the power of 2.05 or power of 3 or logarithmic? One person, one vote has sound philosophical justifications. There might be hundreds of mathematical equations that give better preference representation, but why should society choose the quadratic function only? - Individually sponsored immigration: The suggestion here is perhaps least radical and most effective. But more than for any other suggestion, this reviewer does not envision how any Western society could transition to a system that would suddenly allow immigration to expand nearly tenfold. - Fund ownership issues: The best way to restrict monopolistic influences is the simplest - just use the caps! Size limits could solve many problems far quicker than other convoluted ways. If regulations prohibit fund companies from holding more than x% in any company, and y% in industry etc, the solution would be neater for everyone involved rather than other methods described here. Similarly, if individual annual income and/or wealth are capped, we may have quicker solutions for inequality. Those who feel that billionaires will stop providing value once they reach those levels by stopping work may have a tiny point, but marginal disutility from the richest non-working or non-consuming from the loss of additional wealth is likely far less than marginal gains for the rest. - “Data unions”: Perhaps the most impractical of all discussed in the book. This reviewer cannot foresee how global community could spontaneously come up with such worldwide unions that have power to sit on a table against the tech giants. All that said, the main point of the book is that we must begin thinking in different directions to get more out of the economic systems in existence before we run into serious societal and political crises. And, the author’s solutions - even if not perfect - are good starting points.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    I'm not entirely convinced by any of the proposals, the writing sometimes bogs down, and despite containing more detail than the average popular book, some of the explanations feel quite handwavy. But this is tasty food for thought. The proposals include: * A 'common ownership self-assessed tax' (COST), which in its most radical form would be applied to all property. Owners would have to self-assess the value of everything they own, and would be taxed accordingly, at a rate that would vary accordi I'm not entirely convinced by any of the proposals, the writing sometimes bogs down, and despite containing more detail than the average popular book, some of the explanations feel quite handwavy. But this is tasty food for thought. The proposals include: * A 'common ownership self-assessed tax' (COST), which in its most radical form would be applied to all property. Owners would have to self-assess the value of everything they own, and would be taxed accordingly, at a rate that would vary according to the turnover rate of each type of asset. (Items that we expect the owner to hold for a long time would be taxed at relatively low rates; this is done to incentivise accurate assessments, but also has the side-benefit of making it relatively inexpensive to protect one's ownership of items with primarily sentimental value.) The catch is that you would have no choice but to sell your possessions to anyone willing to pay the values you assigned. * Quadratic Voting (QV), in which voters would be granted 'voice credits' which they could distribute across elections (or referenda -- QV is supposed to be combined with direct democracy) based on the relative strength of their preferences. Voice credits are used to buy votes, and the price of a number of votes on a single decision is the square of that number. This non-linear structure encourages voters to express their opinions broadly rather than banking all of their votes for maximum influence on one or two issues, but still enables people to express the strength of their preferences and to have disproportionate influence over the issues that matter most to them. * A more open international labour market, in which regular citizens of rich countries could sponsor migrant workers, taking some responsibility for their living conditions and conduct in exchange for a share of their income. (The authors call this a Visas Between Individuals Program, or VIP.) The idea is that this would improve economic opportunity for citizens of poor countries, spread the benefits of migrant labour across average people in host countries rather than concentrating them with business owners, and soften the ethnic/cultural/racial tensions that are most likely to arise when host country workers feel that they are being displaced. The idea is that host country citizens know the conditions on the ground, so they would be able to accurately assess the demand for certain types of workers, as well as making informed judgments about cultural fit. The authors predict that, as well as economically benefiting both the global poor and the poorer members of rich countries, their system would soften xenophobic attitudes in these countries, replacing hostility with benign condescenscion. This is not exactly a utopian vision, but would (if it worked) do more actual good than paying lip service to ideals of global equality while taking an out-of-sight out-of-mind approach in practice. * Financial reforms, the details of which I can't remember. Part of the idea was to weaken institutional investors' control over entire industries, which has predictably anticompetitive effects. Seemed sensible but politically difficult. * Creating an explicit market for the personal data that we currently give away for 'free' (i.e. in exchange for 'free' services) to the big tech companies. This chapter seemed kind of handwavy to me, and I don't really see a plausible path forward. The authors are big fans of Jaron Lanier, whose book I gave up on because it was frustratingly vague and contained at least one glaring error. I guess they must all have good ideas that I'm failing to grasp, but I wish these were communicated more precisely, along with answers to the obvious sceptical questions. I'd say (on the basis of no relevant expertise) that the VIP is probably the most likely proposal to be useful in practice, though the details would be tricky and there are all sorts of ways it could go wrong. The COST and QV are the most interesting to me intellectually, but I have a lot of concerns about their likely pathologies. I made some notes on these, which I'll copy here with a few edits, because I don't have the energy to try to shape them into proper arguments right now. (Spoiler-tagged for being long and half-baked.) (view spoiler)[COST * poor people lose the freedom to retain their property -- it's all very well to say people can set an above-market price if the asset is that important to them, but that's meaningless if they literally can't afford the associated tax (rent) rate ** yes, governments can already seize property, but this is relatively rare and not entirely unpredictable * poor people would not benefit much from appreciation, e.g. of a once-cheap house? (if they buy it for $100k, and can only afford the corresponding level of rent (tax), what can they do once the value rises? It seems like they have to sell at a price low enough that they can still afford the rent.) ** maybe they can borrow against the (new, higher) value, and use that money to pay the rent? This is pretty risky though -- if the value drops, they're left with a debt they can't afford ** It seems that the economic logic here is that the turnover of this house is a good thing -- the asset is being shifted to a 'higher-value use'. But this is obvious bullshit -- the person who buys the house doesn't necessarily value it more than the current owner in any meaningful sense, they're just richer, so a dollar is worth less to them on the margin. Quadratic Voting * would people vote more selfishly, primarily by saving up their votes for issues that affect them directly? I think currently we are able to vote on moral grounds partly because we know we don't have much influence. If we felt we were capable of saving up enough to have a real chance of affecting the result, I suspect self-interest might take over. Suppose you are a member of a vulnerable minority -- are you generous enough to spend many of your votes on issues affecting other minorities, when you know one day your own minority might desperately need as many votes as it can get? Currently self-interest might even push toward helping the other minority (or at least claiming to), in the hope of reciprocation. But if voting were something like a zero-sum game (votes spent on one issue could not be spent on another) would you really be willing to trust that your generosity would be returned? And even if you could, why bother, unless the other minority is larger than yours (and can therefore reciprocate with interest)? ** I suppose this is the system working as intended -- what we want is people honestly and accurately voting their own interests. I'll have to think more about this, but currently it leaves me uneasy. ** By likening QV to a 'zero-sum game' I was kind of missing the point -- you have a fixed supply of voice credits, but because of the quadratic pricing, the more evenly you distribute credits between issues, the more votes you cast in total. Still, the way to maximise your influence over issues that affect you personally is not to vote on anything else. * strategic voting would be rife (unless things were so unpredictable that it came to be seen as futile). If you save up credits by underplaying your preferences on issues that seem unlikely to be close, you can have a greater chance of affecting close votes in the future. * some old people would have no saved votes, not necessarily because they care any less than when they're young, just because they didn't think things through. Others would have many saved votes, not because they care a lot now, just because they couldn't be bothered voting before. ** maybe in order to bank votes you have to vote? e.g. if you turn up and cast one vote, or even no vote (i.e. register your indifference), you get to bank the votes granted for that issue, whereas if you don't even turn up you forfeit them? * people do not all care the same amount overall, nor are they equally affected overall. In the ideal case QV registers the relative strength of my preferences (i.e. relative to each other) but not the strength of my preferences relative to those of someone else. There might be a lot of apathetic people who accumulate a lot of votes, then blow them all on one issue on a whim, or because they're whipped up by someone who does care. ** would political campaigning become even nastier and more fear-based? it would no longer be enough that people favour your side over the other, and (in non-compulsory systems) care enough to vote -- you would benefit greatly if you could make them care intensely. * future politics are unpredictable. If issues A and B are extremely important to me, how do I decide how many votes to spend on issue A today, when I can't predict whether issue B will come to a vote in my lifetime? (Maybe I'm not even consciously aware that B could come up at all.) ** maybe it would work better to allocate votes per-election, have many issues decided at a single election, and not allow banking of votes across elections. (hide spoiler)] Overall this book isn't everything I wanted, but I recommend it. It would be well suited to a book club or university tutorial, or anywhere else you'd have a chance to discuss it with other readers and perhaps drill down into the technical details.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Laurent Franckx

    Economists are all familiar with Keynes' quip that "soon or late, it is ideas, not vested interests, which are dangerous for good or evil." Keynes would probably have been surprised to discover that after the Second World War, the ideas of economists increasingly dealt with technical issues such as equilibrium concepts in game theory and representing increasing returns to scale in models of economic growth and international trade. However, as Posner and Weyl point out, the great economists of the Economists are all familiar with Keynes' quip that "soon or late, it is ideas, not vested interests, which are dangerous for good or evil." Keynes would probably have been surprised to discover that after the Second World War, the ideas of economists increasingly dealt with technical issues such as equilibrium concepts in game theory and representing increasing returns to scale in models of economic growth and international trade. However, as Posner and Weyl point out, the great economists of the 18th and 19th century had plenty of radical and concrete ideas on how to reform society - a tradition that has all but disappeared from academic discourse. With this book, Posner and Weyl aim to go back to the roots (the root of radical is radix, the Latin for, euh, root). The problem they want to address is what they call "stagnequality", the combination of stagnation with increasing inequality in the major developed countries. They are convinced that the root (well, right) cause of stagnequality is the increasing concentration of power amongst a limited number of firms. Their solution is not increased regulation but rather designing new markets that would tackle this concentration problem, redistribute power and incomes and improve incentives for economic efficiency. They discuss five radical ideas: abolish private ownership of assets by putting all assets in some sort of ongoing auction (and, in the process, radically redesigning the taxation system); create markets for votes that would ensure that people would only vote for topics they genuinely care about: create a market that would allow private persons to sponsor international migration; redesign corporate governance so that institutional investors would not be allowed to reduce competition by investing in different firms in the same sector; and allowing people to appropriate the monetary value generated by the data they create in their on-line behaviour. If these ideas sound crazy, it's because they are. However, the strong point of Posner and Weyl is that this is not just some gratuitous exercise. They have really thought through their argument, and actively anticipated most objections people could raise against their proposal. This is what makes the book so stimulating. It also makes it a very frustrating read: at the end of each chapter, you think that the idea is completely unrealistic, but all counterarguments you could come up with have been refuted. This is definitely one of the most original and stimulating books in the social sciences that have been published in years. I have no idea whether any of these ideas will ever result in anything concrete (actually, I doubt it, as the implementation of these ideas would have to overcome very powerful vested interests) - but then, as the authors point out, almost all our current political and economic institutions once were radical ideas.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Lars Plougmann

    A book on economic theory and mechanism design may not be for everyone. But the authors of Radical Markets have done an impressive job representing their ideas with just enough economic history and explanation of incentives that the book will appeal to anyone who is curious about how we can tweak our society to improve the way it works. As the authors point out, markets and property rights are human constructs. Both have limits in usefulness and also limits imposed by laws on how far they reach. A book on economic theory and mechanism design may not be for everyone. But the authors of Radical Markets have done an impressive job representing their ideas with just enough economic history and explanation of incentives that the book will appeal to anyone who is curious about how we can tweak our society to improve the way it works. As the authors point out, markets and property rights are human constructs. Both have limits in usefulness and also limits imposed by laws on how far they reach. The latter type of limit is often put in place to avoid negative dynamics - market failures, where fairness and utility are likely to be eroded. The fresh thinking that Posner and Weyl present in their book is to define rules for some of the areas of economic activity that present challenges to present-day societies. They argue that by introducing market economics to some of those areas that are today managed by policy would improve outcomes. In other areas, by radically altering assumptions underpinning current markets, we could create novel mechanisms for exchange that would address current market shortcomings. While the ideas on property rights, migration, voting and other topics may require unsurmountable political will to implement in the next few years, or even decades, the type of thinking represented in the book is a sublime example of letting go of sacred assumptions and asking what we could achieve if we wanted to improve society. In other areas, taking action appears almost urgent. The book summarizes research into monopoly rents extracted via fund manager ownership across a sector. Current laws may even support taking action but would cause a major disruption. This is a bit like Freakonomics, but extrapolated into normative territory.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan Mckay

    Radical economics introduces a few ideas that serve as valuable thought experiments, even though none could be considered a serious policy proposal. The one closest to my expertise was a complete waste, so even though I'd like to give the book a higher rating, landed at 3 stars. 1. Property taxation marketplace -- The premise is that we could use markets to self-enforce valuations on property tax, thus incentivizing property owners declare the actual value of each item they own. I was convinced, Radical economics introduces a few ideas that serve as valuable thought experiments, even though none could be considered a serious policy proposal. The one closest to my expertise was a complete waste, so even though I'd like to give the book a higher rating, landed at 3 stars. 1. Property taxation marketplace -- The premise is that we could use markets to self-enforce valuations on property tax, thus incentivizing property owners declare the actual value of each item they own. I was convinced, and like it as a means to make wealth taxes actually work. 2. Quadratic voting (marketplace) -- everybody gets a pool of votes that they can use to express more nuanced choices than 'yes' or 'no'. Definitely an interesting idea. 3. Immigration marketplace -- I agree with the premise but it seems like the authors were looking for a way to make immigration politically feasible (enable regular citizens to benefit) which didn't seem as efficient from a marketplace incentive. What I appreciated more in this chapter was the implicit criticism of free capital markets having little to no benefit for average people. 4. Data marketplace -- This seemed like a lame remix of Jaron Lanier's better reasoned ideas from 'Who Owns the Future?'. Also seemed to make fundamental mistakes regarding the intrinsic value of usage data. The idea was so bad it gave me pause about whether I should trust any of the other ideas put forward in the book. 5. Markets as distributed computing -- actually the most interesting part of the book, it created a mental model where society is akin to a large computer server, and markets are simply the most effective protocol to transfer data. Will definitely use this idea going forward.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Erik

    If a work of speculative "Black Mirror"-esque fiction were to meet in-depth, well-cited and researched economic, political, and legal theory, it would be "Radical Markets" by legal scholar Eric Posner and economist E. Glen Weyl. Separated into cogent presentations on five ideas of ways markets and our democratic politics can be reworked to make our systems and institutions more equitable and just, "Radical Markets" poses theories on blending the line between public and private property ownership, If a work of speculative "Black Mirror"-esque fiction were to meet in-depth, well-cited and researched economic, political, and legal theory, it would be "Radical Markets" by legal scholar Eric Posner and economist E. Glen Weyl. Separated into cogent presentations on five ideas of ways markets and our democratic politics can be reworked to make our systems and institutions more equitable and just, "Radical Markets" poses theories on blending the line between public and private property ownership, on make voting more democratic, on re-equipping antitrust law to take back the power institutional investors have used to hijack the market, and on ways in which immigration can be reworked to be celebrated rather than feared. Unfortunately, as other reviewers have noted, the book, with the exception of a few paragraphs in the conclusion, fails to account for a startling reality: systems and institutions are habitually pirated by the elite and perverted for their own gain, and the authors don't do much to assuage fears that their own speculative systems might have the same fate. And as a result I was left with serious questions: these ideas for a more just, efficient system are important but how do we protect the bedrock that makes these ideas possible: our civil liberties? Nonetheless, "Radical Markets" is one of the first real attempts at thinking critically thoroughly about the massive institutional problems of inequality, stagnation, and injustice that plague our economic and political systems, and for that reason it should be celebrated.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Lorenzo Barberis Canonico

    The mix of game theory, political science, and economic thinking was right up my alley. In many ways, this book is a great example of how mechanism design can literally change everything in society by aligning incentive structures with optimal outcomes for all. Btw this is the book that unveiled the concept of quadratic voting, which is a core mechanic in many contemporary crypto applications and blockchain, including Tezos. 

  26. 5 out of 5

    Dominik

    A thought-provoking read. Honest and humble, with creative new ideas (some of which may work, some of which may not, but all of which deserve consideration and additional thought).

  27. 4 out of 5

    Rakshit

    The central ideas in books are revolutionary and brilliantly put. It would have certainly earned a 5 star rating from me if it wasn’t a bit repetitive and slightly longer than it needs to be.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Kuba

    Most likely wrong, but thought provoking

  29. 4 out of 5

    Marta Franco

    I appreciate people thinking outside the box, and this radical markets proposal is an entertaining brain exercise. Unfortunately, their suggestions are overall quite flawed. The authors do a good job acknowledging the flaws, but they just dismiss them with weak and unconvincing answers. Still, the book offers a nice analysis of common issues of our current democratic and capitalist system and it offers alternative solutions to the ones we are used to discuss, so it ended up being a fun read.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Dio Mavroyannis

    I feel slightly bad for giving this book only 3 stars because it is legitimately very interesting and I think the author has a rather elegant solution to a specific technical problem in economics, the public goods problem. Nevertheless I think the author has taken an approach to pushing this at the policy level instead of trying to find a private implementation and deserves no mercy for doing so. The first chapter is how the using a georgian method of taxation to tax according to land value inst I feel slightly bad for giving this book only 3 stars because it is legitimately very interesting and I think the author has a rather elegant solution to a specific technical problem in economics, the public goods problem. Nevertheless I think the author has taken an approach to pushing this at the policy level instead of trying to find a private implementation and deserves no mercy for doing so. The first chapter is how the using a georgian method of taxation to tax according to land value instead of labor value would lead to allocational efficiency while reducing investment efficiency. This sounds quite plausible given the usual economic caveats of "rationality". Nevertheless I think this idea while interesting, is a license for authoritarianism like never before. It is explicitely advocating that everyone pay a very high tax for their land and always have it for sale. In other words if somebody wants to pay your tax for you, they can legally kick you out. I assume this guy is some urban privileged kid because 90% of the people I know in farmlands are old men and old ladies. I just can't imagine forcing these people at gunpoint to leave their homes because they are not "efficient" enough to pay the tax. Indeed the problems associated with the Coase theorem, such as illiquidity, purposeful externalities and subjective value are all here in spades because they are not actually just theoretical problems anymore, they are actually problems that can lead to the kicking out of old ladies from their homes. Anyway apart from the wanting to give the right to everyone in society to evict unproductive people from their homes the book also has an application of quadratic voting. Now I think this proposal is much more defensible and has merit, though it still leaves unanswered basic institutional questions such as, how many times a year should you vote and how will this affect the number of votes you earn a year? Similarly why won't politicians just introduce deliberately bad policy so they can get a huge chunk of the population to waste their votes and then the policy they actually want so they can get their people to push for it now that the rest have fewer votes? Honestly this stuff just feels childish.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.