*Radical Markets*

The authors are Eric A. Posner and E. Glen Weyl, and the subtitle is Uprooting Capitalism and Democracy for a Just Society.

“Suppose the entire city of Rio is perpetually up for auction.”  To be clear, I don’t agree with these proposals.  But if you want a book that is smart, clearly written, dedicated to Bill Vickrey, and sees its premises through to their logical conclusions, I am happy to recommend this one.  Think of it as a bunch of social choice and incentive mechanisms, based on market-like ideas, though not markets in the sense of a traditional medieval fair.

The authors call for perpetually open auctions, quadratic voting, a kind of apprenticeship system for the private sponsorship of immigrants, a ban on mutual fund diversification within sectors (to preserve competition by limiting joint ownership), and creating more explicit markets in personal data.  If nothing else, it will force you to clarify what you actually like about markets, or don’t, and what you actually like about economics, or don’t.

Most of all, I differ from the authors in seeing a larger gap between models and the real world than they do, and thinking we need a greater variety of kinds of evidence before making very radical changes.  But at the very least, it is worth thinking through why we do not handle life as a second price auction.


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