After reading Nick Shaxson's excellent book 'Treasure Islands and the men that stole the world', I had been searching for practical solutions to our current economic malaise. Richard Murphy's book is this.
The book is divided into three parts.
The first is a review of our current economic status that covers much of the same areas as Nick Shaxson - the rise of neoliberalism. Richard Murphy attacks the intellectual abdication that equates active government to bad (big) government. This section is easy to follow, but is less compelling than `Treasure Islands' relentless and readable analysis.
The second section makes the point that man and society are more than money and the material economy. This rather obvious point is rammed home (as is probably necessary) with diagrams that highlight how progress in the financial area may perversely restrict potential in a wider context. The numerous examples given through this discussion prepares a descriptive intellectual background to the subsequent solutions.
The third section contains Richard Murphy's solutions. These are radical, but practical and are clearly informed by the author's experience in business. It would not be surprising to find that many small businesses would strongly endorse many/most proposals.
After reading the book I find myself thinking ` What would the UK be like if this radical programme were put into operation?'. This is simultaneously an exciting and a scary prospect.
Could there be economic flaws at its heart? Who to believe? Witness the recent and sudden conversion of leading economists to the view that the Eurozone needed fiscal union all along. Could a minor country implement the proposals without the support of others within a larger union? How would powerful vested interests frustrate / block implementation?
Despite these concerns, the ideas in this book need to move centre stage to reinvigorate the heart of our anaemic economic debate.