Capitalism in America: A History

By Prout, James P. | Financial History, Winter 2019 | Go to article overview

Capitalism in America: A History


Prout, James P., Financial History


Capitalism in America: A History By Alan Greenspan and Adrian Wooldridge Penguin Press, 2018 486 pages with notes, bibliography and index $35.00

If you ARE INTERESTED AT ALL in financial history, you are probably doing a lot of head shaking these days. Just 30 years ago, democratic capitalism had triumphed. The USSR was exposed as a rusting old garbage scow. China had awakened to the virtues of wealth. In the United States, a new Wild West opened-cyberspace- and with it the promise of untold riches.

In 2019, Karl Marx wouldn't be uncomfortable with talk of class division in the United States: wealthy rentiers sitting on top as the rest of society faces diminished opportunities and mounting debt. Socialists are in Congress, calling for universal health care and free college. A wealth tax and 70% marginal income tax rates are part of the presidential discussion. Globalization is out; trade conflict is in.

Witness to all of this is Alan Greenspan, whose early training as a jazz saxophonist was apparently a perfect stepping stone to economics and ultimately to the Fed Chairmanship. Greenspan is either a hero for setting monetary policy during the powerful economic expansion of the 1990s, or a goat for doing nothing about reckless credit expansion prior to the 2007 crisis. At 92, he has seen a lot, and together with Economist editor Adrian Wooldridge, he has written Capitalism in America: A History, charting the back and forth of US business and commerce over the past 230+ years.

For the authors, any discussion of American capitalism centers around three recurring themes. First, the race for greater productivity, roughly described as getting more and more output from the same amount of input. Second, creative destruction, the oxymoronic-sounding process whereby new technologies are given leeway to upend existing products or enterprises. And finally, politics, which acts as kind of a backbeat to business activity, sometimes spurring it on, other times adjusting its speed and effect.

The early republic was a place of great promise, but low growth. Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton set out very different visions of how they saw the United States developing economically. Yeoman farmers free from baleful banks in Jefferson's mind; eager entrepreneurs using finance to expand manufacturing in Hamilton's thinking. Luckily, Jefferson knew a good deal when he saw it, and he embraced debt to finance the doubling of the United States through the Louisiana Purchase. Politics, in this case, provided new areas for expansion. Moving toward the mid-point of the century, productivity gained traction as larger enterprises and wage workers replaced cottage industries. Creative destruction worked through, too, as transportation (sail to steam, canals to railroads) and communication (mail to telegraph) were revolutionized.

The authors paint a tragic picture of the American South at this time. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Capitalism in America: A History
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.