Every quarter our 'Faith and Work' ministry recommends a book that will equip you with Christian insights into your work-life. This time we recommend 'Capitalism’s Toxic Assumptions: Redefining Next Generation Economics' by Eve Poole. (Published by Bloomsbury, 2015)
Eve Poole is a Christian who teaches leadership and ethics at Ashridge Business School. With degrees in theology and business administration, together with a PHD in Capitalism and Theology, as well as years of career experience in the financial services industry, she is well qualified to teach us a thing or two about capitalism.
Although Galileo was widely opposed and placed under house arrest when he championed heliocentrism, no scientist today believes that the sun revolves around the earth. Scientific thought continues to develop as new hypotheses are formed, tested and accepted as true. Economists, on the other hand, haven’t really shifted from their original worldview… even though many of them would describe economics as a “science”. Market capitalism depends on seven big ideas that have served the world well in the past, but are now being overtaken by events. In a well-researched and broad overview of economic thinking, Eve Poole explains each of these big ideas in turn. She then goes on to demonstrate the severe shortcomings of each idea in the light of real market experience. Finally, towards the end of each chapter, she points to possible alternative approaches that could help begin to define the next generation of economic thinking.
If you want to learn about the seven big ideas underpinning capitalist theory, this is a great primer. If you’re already familiar with concepts such as competition, agency theory, market pricing and shareholder primacy, this book provides a thought-provoking critique of ideas that most business managers have taken for granted for many years. The market consists of a mass of messages about supply and demand; the rich have shaped the market in their image because they have the biggest share of the “votes” in that system. But there is hope. In each chapter, Eve Poole suggests how consumers, investors, employers and employees can make big changes to the system by shifting behaviours and adjusting the way financial “votes” are cast in the market. These new ideas are still tentative, but they point the way to a more enlightened approach.
This book is not a relaxing read, because it will make you think hard. But for any business person, investor, teacher or student of economics, this is one of my top picks for 2016.