Letters to the editor

Polls and Comment

Library - an archive
of speeches

Economists Write

Bibliography of EMU

The Euroland Economy








'Minford wrote this book to enlighten businessmen about the wonders of our civil society and of the free market system. They sorely need this volume. Businessmen are virtually always wrong when they pronounce on the great questions of macroeconomics and the management of the economy - as we saw recently in their enthusiasm for the ERM. The clarity and consciousness of this book should widen their horizons and help them to understand why managing the macro-economy is so different from managing a micro-business.'

Sir Alan Walters, Chief Economic Adviser to Margaret Thatcher 1980-1984 and 1989; Vice Chairman of AIG Trading Group Inc.


A number of thinkers and politicians have called recently for greater intervention in Britain's economy, to explore a ' third' or 'middle' way between failed socialism and free-market capitalism; these calls have now been repeated by newly elected governments on the continent of Europe, where regulation is in any case already strongly entrenched. Also dubbed 'stakeholding', this concept encompasses a wide range of regulatory proposals, from extensive rights for workers within their firms to government powers overriding the pull of market forces on investment, all in an attempt to curb the supposedly 'short-termist' corporate culture of free markets.

Yet the state we're in is in fact quite good: Britain's economy is not in decline as a result of the past two decades' free market reforms - indeed, as I demonstrate, exactly the contrary. Anxiety over security is misplaced. And the interventionist suggestions made by some influential figures are harmful to the prospects of Britain's economy. Instead, Britain's long-term growth depends on it remaining a free-market entity. As for the continent, there is now accumulating evidence, set out in this book, that its economies are being damaged by excessive regulation - especially in the area of employment.

'Stakeholding', I argue, is no different in essence from interventionist and redistributive taxation; its only difference is in its lesser transparency, which therefore deceives people into believing it to be innocuous. But it destroys incentives as effectively; and incentives are what generate economic efficiency, growth and jobs. In this book I develop the argument from both theory and post-war economic experience, particularly that of Britain, Europe and the emerging markets of the global economy. I also argue that people accept the transitional discomforts of free markets once they understand the long-term gains for their families, their descendants and their society at large. It follows, I conclude, that free-market policies, like political freedom generally, are not merely the best, but ultimately the only acceptable option for any economy, developed or undeveloped.

In Markets Not Stakes I have drawn on my experience not merely as an applied economist closely involved in policy-making in Britain but also as an ordinary citizen of a country that was seen as an almost ungovernable basket case in 1979 and has since been all but reborn. This book is, I believe, a timely examination, from both a practical and a philosophical viewpoint, of the ideas currently shaping Britain and Europe's economic and business development.

Hardcover - 256 pages £20
Orion Business Books; ISBN: 075281172X

Available from good bookshops and amazon.co.uk (amongst others).
Back to Patrick Minford's Home Page