The current interplay of economics and politics in the world arena presents new problems of production and distribution, as well as new rules and institutions of global dimensions. Historical and cultural geopolitical factors play a leading role in the performance of different economic systems. In order to facilitate the understanding of existing economic systems, a study of the most important countries with varying ideological conditions is needed. Such countries include the United States, the member nations of the European Community, and Japan with the main characteristics of capitalist or free-market economies; Sweden, as a welfare state; the Commonwealth of Independent States (the former Soviet Union); the eastern European countries; and China with their varying Communist or centrally planned economies and their recent reforms; and the developing or poor nations, which search for an economic system that would help them overcome their poverty conditions.
This book reviews traditional theories of economic systems and searches for solutions to contemporary problems by relating theory to practice. It examines up-to-date revolutionary changes and contemporary reforms toward privatization, decentralization, and democratization, primarily in the former planned economies. These reforms tend to support the theory of economic integration toward an "optimum regime."
Among the innovative features of the book is the study of the growing new system of employee and worker ownership plans or the sharing economic system as an alternative to "exploitative" capitalism and "oppressive" communism. Moreover, the book examines current movements of joint ventures and acquisitions, particularly in economies that are undergoing significant reforms as they try to successfully navigate through radically changing economic and political environments.