ABSTRACT

As we will discuss more fully in the last chapter, there are many ways of judging the success of contemporary capitalist economies, and some of those ways are more controversial than others. But whenever that judgment is made, and pretty well regardless of the metric used, it is striking that not all capitalist economies do equally well. That in its turn then suggests that not all such economies are exactly the same; and indeed they are not. Some are particularly successful if you measure their performance against criteria of international competitiveness or rates of economic growth. Some are particularly successful if you measure them against a measure of GDP/head, or against a set of welfare criteria (including the happiness of the people within them). Some are particularly successful if you measure them against all four sets of such criteria, and some aren’t particularly successful no matter how they are judged. And that differential performance seems to matter now more than once it did. For when the Cold War still pitted capitalist economies against state-socialist ones, all the capitalist economies scored well in the comparison, and there was very little academic chatter about variations of performance within the capitalist bloc itself. But more than two decades later, with that Cold War competition long gone, it is now the variation in the performance of different capitalisms, rather than the superiority

of capitalism per se, that commands public attention and invites scholarly response.