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Supercapitalism Supercapitalism Supercapitalism

3.97  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,402 Ratings  ·  180 Reviews
From one of America's foremost economic and political thinkers comes a vital analysis of our new hypercompetitive and turbo-charged global economy and the effect it is having on American democracy. With hiscustomary wit and insight, Reich shows how widening inequality of income and wealth, heightened job insecurity, and corporate corruption are merely the logical results o ...more
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Published September 4th 2007 by Vintage Books USA (first published January 1st 2007)
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Hadrian
This is as lucid and penetrating a summary of the causes of the economic crisis as I can find from a left-center perspective. Here it is squeezed to the barest minimum of facts.

The period from 1940-1970 is a 'Not-Quite-Golden-Age' of the relationship between Democracy and Capitalism in America. It is 'not quite golden' due to the problems of racial and sexual discrimination, but the fundamentals of the economy were indeed strong. Growth was high and steady, inflation was low, wages were high, an
...more
Margie
May 20, 2012 Margie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: society
I will now continue worshipping at the altar of Robert Reich.

I came away from this book thinking, "Wow, I really learned something." Not, "I learned some interesting factoids," or "I learned of an interesting opinion." I really learned.

Reich presents his premise very succinctly at the beginning of the book: The last several decades have involved a shift of power away from us in our capacities as citizens and toward us as consumers and investors. He then spends most of the rest of the book lookin
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William
I have no idea why I thought that Mr Reich would deliver the knockout blow or at least the stunning indictment of unrestrainted global capitalism in place today. Mr Reich was labor secretary during that most probusiness of administrations, the Clinton years. A probusiness stance only furthered and exacerbated in the following 8 Bush years. One could rightly accuse Mr. Reich of being an architect of the present global meltdown. But any mea culpas would be hard to find.
No, what you will find here
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Tiffoknee the 3rd Conner
I had the distinct privilege of meeting Professor Reich in San Francisco last year. He is an intelligent, insightful, engaging man. I wish I were so privileged as to have an opportunity to take a class with him at Berkeley. Oh, he's also very, very short. Like, really short. And nice. He's nice too . . . for someone who attended law school.

I enjoyed this book. This was my first time reading any of Professor Reich's work. I knew of him from his time as Secretary of Labor with the Clinton adminis
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Rossdavidh
Sep 25, 2015 Rossdavidh rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: white
This book, on the underlying causes behind what's changed in the capitalist world since the mid 70's and why, is a fascinating read. It also made me quake with rage on about every other page. That's the thing about looking at underlying causes of problems: it usually takes away the more obvious solutions, like "fire that guy", by demonstrating where he came from, and why there's a long line of people who will do pretty much the exact same thing, waiting to take his place.

I'm not just talking abo
...more
Joe
Dec 06, 2008 Joe rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book describes the transition, particularly in America but also somewhat in the rest of the world, from a balanced capitalist democracy to a capitalism-dominated system.

Previously, businesses served many purposes: they were important parts of communities, giving people stable jobs, strengthening communities and the country, and mostly stay out of politics and the government. Over time, as competition and widespread stock investing got more popular, an evolutionary process transformed the go
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Roger
Jul 02, 2008 Roger rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: socialists, capitalists
I see myself as unequivocally capitalist, believing in creative destruction and the rewarding of those who give the most value to consumers. Nevertheless, despite the scathing condemnation of supercapitalism in this book, I feel that it was a worthwhile read, and recommend it to everyone who wants to have a stake in greater society.

It is especially relevant to Americans, who always confuse democracy and capitalism. Nowadays, there is a large disconnect between these two mechanisms. One has done
...more
Betsy Curlin
Sep 05, 2011 Betsy Curlin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Without a doubt, one of the best books I've ever read on the economics of American society, and how this has changed from the Democratic Capitalism of the 1950s and 1960s (remember LBJ's Great Society?) to the Supercapitalism of our present time. Reich is adept at explaining economic policy in terms that the layman can understand, while keeping the narrative intelligent and engaging. I know understand why very little public policy legislation comes out of Congress, why present day CEOs are paid ...more
Matt
Aug 01, 2009 Matt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Robert Reich is sometimes categorized as a standard liberal idealogue. This book should put that characture to rest. Reich sees himself as pro-capitalism. The market is needed, Reich argues (echoing Milton Friedman) because dissent is undermined if one cannot dissent and also buy bread without government funds. There is, however, a difference between democratic capitalism and supercaptilism. And we have gone from one to the other, with terrible results.

Simply put, Reich's thesis is that followin
...more
Olivia
Jun 22, 2009 Olivia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Robert Reich is a legend and with his help, I hope I'll be able to understand some of the crazy economic forces that shape our everyday lives.

The point that sticks with me the most is his warning not to treat corporations as individuals, eligible for the rights of citizens, but as legal fictions, who can neither be blamed nor extolled for the situation we find ourselves in today. Corporations exist as a collection of shareholders, designed to increase shareholder value for investors and provide
...more
John
Mar 13, 2009 John rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
This is the best non-fiction book I've read since Gödel, Escher, Bach An Eternal Golden Braid, and the best economics/public policy book I've ever read. (It beats Freakonomics because it's actually applicable to real life.) I recommend this book to anyone and everyone--especially if you're interested in public policy and how to strengthen democracy here in the U.S. and worldwide.
Julie
It's so easy today for us to rant about corporate greed or the sad fact that small independent businesses are being replaced by large superstores. And we are quick to blame heartless CEOs or big corporations. But in his book, Supercapitalism, Reich describes the forces in the US that are driving these changes and how we, as consumers, stock holders, and employees play a distinct and sometimes contrary role. Definitely some interesting points raised in this book - excellent in audio and a great b ...more
Alex Lee
Jul 21, 2016 Alex Lee rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Reich admirably explains what neoliberalism is, at least, how it came to be and what the thresholds for its implications are.

He is very clear in defining how and why lobbying works, and how an excess of money and competition disruptions politics, economics, labor and forms globalism. The root of this, he claims is technological disruption; tech discovered and funded through pentagon programs to fight communism. This tech eventually finds its way into consumer hands and starts to erode market org
...more
Brian
Dec 28, 2008 Brian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very well written book about the interaction between capitalism and democracy. It contains an excellent history of markets in the United States, displaying how they have functioned in the past, how they operate currently, and what caused those changes. Reich's writing eschews ideology. This book is easy to read, and I would recommend it to anyone regardless of political orientation.
Tim Owens
Mar 07, 2016 Tim Owens rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Robert Reich explains the evolution of the American economic system from World War II to the present and its effects upon democracy in the US. Technological innovations beginning with the space race along with the increase size of cargo shipping brought about by the Vietnam War have created a nation of investors and consumers who have demanded nothing less than extreme competition resulting in Supercaptialism. As supercapitalism has evolved our democracy has deteriorated under these pressures. B ...more
Linda Hartlaub
Well now I'm thoroughly cynical about the motives of the leadership in large corporations. Nothing is because a leader is a good guy - it's all about the bottom line. When the CEO or others on the management team send relief supplies to victims of Katrina, Super storm Sandy, a tsunami or an earthquake, is it because it's the right thing to do? Nope. It's done only if it will add to the bottom line. When corporate bigwigs create a compact with respect to the pay and treatment of clothing workers ...more
Ahmed
Feb 01, 2013 Ahmed rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An amazingly written book about what capitalism has transformed into. Just started it, and completely spellbound.
Robert Brents
Economic history of America in Three Acts
Act I: Free-market economy runs wild
Act II: Government regulation reigns in capitalism's excesses
Act III: Big business solves problem created in Act II by Buying Government
Reich spends 208 pages describing how we got to Act III, then spends the last 16 pages offering a ridiculously simple-minded "solution" that can never succeed in the real world of Act III.
The world is what it is. You can either recognize reality as it is and act accordingly or reality w
...more
Keith
The premise of this book is extremely simple: The balance between democracy and capitalism has been thrown off equilibrium. The reason is not a secret conspiracy between D.C. and Wall Street to keep the little people down. One thing that has happened is competition has dramatically increased in all sectors due to technology and globalization, causing firms to invest heavily in the lobbying process - using politics as another area of competitive advantage. This load of noise and money from the co ...more
Brenton
Aug 14, 2012 Brenton rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very intuitive, intriguing look at how capitalism and democracy fit together. Reich dismisses political theories that place the problems of our recent decades at the feet of one class or another (i.e. Ronal Reagan showing businesses that unions could and should be stood up to, corporate executives becoming greedier or less ethical) and seeks a systematic understanding of how capitalistic forces, once constrained by a mix of democratic institutions and oligopolies, has come to overwhelm the dem ...more
Jose
Nov 04, 2009 Jose rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sometimes along comes a book that just hits it in the head. This is that book in my opinion. Briefly, it exposes how we as consumers and investors have benefited greatly from the evolution of more competitive and global markets but at great cost to us at citizens. The author has a very clean style and each chapter focuses on one main idea. The first chapter explains how capitalism of the post WWII times ushered an "Almost Golden Era" of corporate statemanship where the ideals of democracy and bu ...more
Denise
Sep 21, 2013 Denise rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: political, nonfiction
Robert B. Reich has served as a public servant in three national administrations and is one of America's greatest economic and political thinkers. In this book, he explains how capitalism of the mid 21st century turned first into global capitalism as new markets for products opened and then super-capitalism as a result of worldwide consumer demand. The result has been widening income inequalities, job insecurity, and increasing environmental impacts. He details how companies fighting for the sli ...more
Keith
Nov 25, 2008 Keith rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Any citizen of a democracy.
This is a very important book for any citizen of the USA. Reich provides a good explanation for how and why our democracy has been subverted by special interests and how profit and price have totally swamped all other concerns citizens might have.

If you're considering this book, it's important to know that while Reich became a household name during the Clinton administration, this book is neither liberal nor conservative. He doesn't blame either side for what has happened and, in fact, questions
...more
Vicky
Aug 21, 2008 Vicky rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recently I'd read 3new books about the economic and social aspects of globalization. One was the "World is flat" by Thomas L. Friedman, the second was "Freakonomics" by Steven D.Levitt and Stephen J.Dubner and now I am reading the "Supercapitalism" by Robert Reich. They all tell us that the world is changing so fast that there is no time to worry about the social aspects, democracy, job security. It is all about the consumers and investors, you are the one or the other. It is a sad picture for ...more
Jack
Apr 19, 2013 Jack rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Raging liberal pervasive worldview makes the first four, five chapters, work to read. Redundant background, lacking compelling presentation.

Reich waits until the very end to unload his central thesis by my reading: "If corporate social responsibility has any meaning at all, it is to refrain from corrupting democracy".

His argument echoes that of RFK Jr., who is more narrowly focussed on the environment. To wit, that corporations are power structures purpose built for delivering products at lower
...more
Carol Kuniholm
Aug 29, 2011 Carol Kuniholm rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've been trying to understand what's happening economically, politically, globally, and noticed quite a few discussions mentioned Robert Reich. Supercapitalism gives some really helpful insight into the ways that unregulated capitalism has overwhelmed democracy "of the people." Reich explains the power of free market mechanisms to intensify competition and to push us toward a system where money is the only recognized value. He identifies disturbing symptoms, suggests possible causes, and offers ...more
Todd Martin
Nov 08, 2013 Todd Martin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: finance
In Supercapitalism Robert B. Reich (former Secretary of Labor under Clinton) argues that while capitalism has progressed in the last 40 years offering consumers and investors more choices, power and freedoms, that this has come at the expense of a diminishment to democracy. People have less individual power at the voting booth, candidates are less responsive to the needs of their constituents and government expends its efforts serving the businesses who bank roll their careers rather than the pu ...more
Clinton
Oct 13, 2011 Clinton rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Supercapitalism is broadly defined as the separation of capitalism and democracy citing eight reasons. However, the problem with the term Supercapitalism is that capitalism and democracy have always been separate. Capitalism is an economic system while Democracy is a political system, and this is self evident in the case of Hong Kong and Singapore. Both have the most lassize-faire capitalist economies in the world yet both lack democracy while simultaneously, sustaining the most economic prosper ...more
Dylan Suher
Reich's account of the rise of Neoliberalism curiously omits significant antagonism and occasionally employs some shaky arguments. For example, I find the Marxist analysis of the crisis of the '70s to be more convincing than Reich's analysis, and I don't even know if I find the Marxist analysis all that convincing. Reich's argument that the introduction of new and better products and greater market efficiency and competition led to the dismantling of market regulation and a decrease in the value ...more
Brian Gabriel
Nov 13, 2011 Brian Gabriel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: economics
Capitalism is roughly defined as "economic system in which the means of production are privately owned and operated for profit from investment." Democracy is defined as "a form of government in which all the people have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives."

Admittedly not entirely well-versed in economics or political science, I believed that democracy and capitalism were always symbiotic (meaning what was good for democracy was always good for capitalism and vice-versa). Furth
...more
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Robert Bernard Reich is an American politician, academic, and political commentator. He served as Secretary of Labor under President Bill Clinton from 1993 to 1997. Reich is a former Harvard University professor and the former Maurice B. Hexter Professor of Social and Economic Policy at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University. He is currently a professor at the Un ...more
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“Supercapitalism has triumphed as power has shifted to consumers and investors. They now have more choice than ever before, and can switch ever more easily to better deals. And competition among companies to lure and keep them continues to intensify. This means better and cheaper products, and higher returns. Yet as supercapitalism has triumphed, its negative social consequences have also loomed larger. These include widening inequality as most gains from economic growth go to the very top, reduced job security, instability of or loss of community, environmental degradation, violations of human rights abroad, and a plethora of products and services pandering to our basest desires. These consequences are larger in the United States than in other advanced economies because America has moved deeper into supercapitalism. Other economies, following closely behind, have begun to experience many of the same things. Democracy is the appropriate vehicle for responding to such social consequences. That’s where citizen values are supposed to be expressed, where choices are supposed to be made between what we want for ourselves as consumers and investors, and what we want to achieve together. But the same competition that has fueled supercapitalism has spilled over into the political process. Large companies have hired platoons of lobbyists, lawyers, experts, and public relations specialists, and devoted more and more money to electoral campaigns. The result has been to drown out voices and values of citizens. As all of this has transpired, the old institutions through which citizen values had been expressed in the Not Quite Golden Age—industry-wide labor unions, local citizen-based groups, “corporate statesmen” responding to all stakeholders, and regulatory agencies—have been largely blown away by the gusts of supercapitalism. Instead of guarding democracy against the disturbing side effects of supercapitalism, many reformers have set their sights on changing the behavior of particular companies—extolling them for being socially virtuous or attacking them for being socially irresponsible. The result has been some marginal changes in corporate behavior. But the larger consequence has been to divert the public’s attention from fixing democracy. 1” 0 likes
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