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The Best Book on the Market: How to Stop Worrying and Love the Free Economy

ISBN: 978-1-906465-05-6
172 pages
June 2008, Capstone
The Best Book on the Market: How to Stop Worrying and Love the Free Economy (1906465053) cover image
The free market makes the world go around. Maybe it’s time we all tried to understand it a little better. Luckily Eamonn Butler is the ideal teacher to get us all up to speed.

Markets are everywhere. But how many of us understand how they work, and why? What does a ‘free market’ really mean? Do free markets actually exist? Should we have more or less of them? Most of all – do we really need to know all this? Answer: Yes we do.

MAKING ECONOMICS SIMPLE SO THAT EVEN POLITICIANS CAN UNDERSTAND IT

If any mention of free markets sends your mind screaming back to your musty old school economics textbook, think again. The Best Book on the Market will keep you gripped, intrigued and well informed. Abandoning complicated mumbo-jumbo, Eamonn Butler, Director of the UK’s leading free market think-tank, demystifies the world of markets, competition, monopolies and cartels, prices and overspills. Using examples from our everyday lives Dr Butler explains how the markets we have, and the many more we need, can work to create a richer, freer and more peaceful world.

STOP WORRYING AND LOVE THE FREE ECONOMY

He delves into the morality of markets and interrogates important issues such as why feckless rock-stars are paid much more than worthy nurses; whether we should worry about people trading in arms, water, healthcare etc; whether black markets are immoral; and questions of equality; sweatshops, and fair trade.

 

“This book is about the free market and how unfree it can be when there is a lack of belief in freedom itself. Eamonn Butler presents solid arguments against government attempts to ‘perfect’ the markets by regulation, controls, subsidies, or by adopting measures which obstruct competition and private ownership.”

Václav Klaus, President of the Czech Republic

 

“Vividly and simply explains competition, entrepreneurship and prices”.

 John Blundell, Director, Institute of Economic Affairs

  “A great little book that gets to the heart of how and why markets work, in a very engaging and easily understood way”.

Dan Lewis, Research Director, Economic Research Council 

  “I welcome this witty, lucid explanation of how entrepreneurs and business people make a positive contribution to our lives, and why economists often don't”.

Andrew Neil , leading journalist and BBC presenter

“Anything which educates the public - and politicians  - on how the free economy actually works is always welcome.  Dr Butler does this in style”.

Lord Lawson, former UK Chancellor of the Exchequer

“Everyone in business would do well to understand the basic principles of markets which Dr Butler clarifies so well in this short book”.

Allister Heath, Editor of The Business and Associate Editor of The Spectator 

"This book does great justice to the vibrancy of markets and what makes them tick"

Ruth Richardson, former Finance Minister of New Zealand

"It's refreshing to see an economist who understands the importance of innovation and entrepreneurship in pushing progress forward, and who can explain it in straightforward language."

Trevor Baylis OBE (inventor of the wind-up radio)

"I'm glad to see that Dr Butler stresses the role of innovators – and the importance of market structures that encourage innovation."

Sir Clive Sinclair (inventor)

"Dr Butler's book is a welcome and very readable contribution on the mechanisms and morality of the free economy."

Sir John Major KG CH (former UK Prime Minister)

“'Market' is one of the first six-letter words that every English-speaking child learns: as in 'This - little - piggy - went - to - market'”.

Geoffrey Howe, former UK Chancellor of the Exchequer

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Acknowledgements.

1. The amazing world of markets.

A trip to the market.

No words, but mutual benefit.

Markets are everywhere.

Nobody’s perfect.

Time, place and trust.

Who? What? Where? Why?.

Unorganized order.

Markets are a force for good.

Getting resources to their best use.

2. How specialization and exchange make us rich.

Markets weren’t born yesterday.

Money makes the world go round oblong.

Exchange is Natural.

Why we exchange so much.

Collaboration through - disagreement.

Specialization and efficiency.

The huge productive power of specialization.

Specialization makes you slicker.

Capital accumulation.

The spiralling success of specialization.

3. The instant messaging system of price.

Price is an instruction as well as a fact.

Buyers, sellers and market prices.

X marks the (perfect) spot.

Now the bad news.

The impossibility of perfect information.

The market is a discovery process.

Help me, information.

The instant messaging of price.

Our unintended genius.

Price eliminates waste.

Markets are only human.

It’s hard to find good stuff.

The costs of doing a deal.

4. Killing the messenger.

Zen and the art of price maintenance.

Soldering up the price mechanism.

Wage and price controls.

Controls mess up the market.

Distorting price through subsidy.

That ol’ black market.

Inflation.

I get high prices (with a little help from the state).

Patents and copyright.

Occupational licensure: then……and now.

5. The driving force of competition.

Keeping it in the family.

The joy of voluntary exchange.

Competition spreads the benefit.

Competition on quality.

Why prices aren’t uniform.

Imperfect competition and prices.

How speculators benefit society.

Why markets need entrepreneurs.

Creative destruction.

Perfect nonsense.

6. The rules of the market.

Honesty really is the best policy.

Exchange is built on trust.

Brands communicate trust.

Longevity, solidity and endorsement.

In God we trust - others pay cash.

Setting and enforcing the rules.

The unwritten rules.

Property includes human effort.

Property security is vital to markets.

Property rights are determined by law and convention.

The choice of rules determines the outcome.

The design of auctions.

Markets don’t just happen.

7. Market failure (and government failure).

Bubbles, booms, downturns and depressions.

Markets struggle with human psychology.

Time and speed.

Information asymmetry.

Political failure.

The inconvenient reality.

A market in emissions.

A price on congestion.

Water rights.

Tradable fishing rights.

Over-fishing.

A shooting market saves game.

8. The morality of the market.

Harnessing self-interest.

Self-interest and greed.

Harmony versus politics.

Unfairness and inequality.

Trafficking and exploitation.

The domination of big business.

Limits to market domination.

The moral superiority of markets.

9. How to grow a market.

Economic achievement gets real.

The triumph of the market?

Handbagging the state.

Recipe for a successful market.

Growing markets over the net.

The question of online trust.

The slow growth of the market in China.

The only real way to wealth.

Index.

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If anyone can explain how markets work, it's Dr Eamonn Butler. As director of the Influential UK think-tank, the Adam Smith Institute, he has spent three decades privatizing state industries, reforming public administrations and instructing government leaders around the world on market economics. He is the doyen of Britain's free-market policy analysts, and led the initiative to build a world monument to the pioneering Scottish economist, Adam Smith, in Edinburgh.

With degrees in Economics, Psychology and Philosophy from St Andrews University, Dr Butler is superbly qualified on the mechanics, mentality and morals of markets. He is a board member of the Mont Pelerin Society, the distinguished international association of free-market economists and activist founded in 1947. He has won the Freedoms Foundation  deal and is advisor to a number of international economic-policy bodies.

Dr Butler's highly readable introductions to free-market thinkers including Adam Smith, Ludwig von Mises, and Nobel economists F A Hayek and Milton Friedman have won wide acclaim and been translated into many languages. He is also the author of several books on IQ testing (with Dr Madsen Pirie) and of Forty Centuries of Wage and Price Controls (with Robert L Schuettinger).

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"…Chancellor Geoffrey Howe…has endorsed a new tome by Adam Smith Institute boss Eamonn Butler on the power of free markets." (The Evening Standard, Monday 31st March 2008)

"...well written...full of rather good anecdotes about markets" (Dr Grumble Blog, September 26, 2008)

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