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Supercapitalism Supercapitalism Supercapitalism

3.96 of 5 stars 3.96  ·  rating details  ·  1,207 ratings  ·  169 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
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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Joe
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
...more
Roger
Jul 02, 2008 Roger rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  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
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
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
John
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
Brian
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.
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
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
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
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
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 4 of 5 stars  ·  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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Igor
Investment capitalism's intense competition leads actors to gain any imaginable advantage over their competitors. Personal ethics must give way to investor demands, because of how liquid investment has become and how easily investors can invest in better returns from competitors that don't have ethical (whatever that means) reservations that stagnate profits. This, coupled with government deregulation, has transformed the economy from one of oligopolies driven by labor unions benefiting unionize ...more
Esteban del Mal
Reich takes a nuanced view of economics which challenged my thinking and eventually won me over (although I wish he would have given more in the way of solutions than the final fifteen pages).

Although I disagree with him on several points, I am agreement with the thesis of his book: namely, that the citizen has been overwhelmed by the consumer and investor, and hence, democracy is in danger of being subordinated to the economy (more so than it already has). The end result is the monolithic super
...more
Charles Baker
This is an excellent book. Reich covers the evolution of democratic capitalism into "Super Capitalism" from the time of the Great Depression through the "not-so Golden Age' of Post WWII America into the current day. Main points, despite the Supreme Court's ruling to the contrary corporations ARE NOT PEOPLE! Corporations cannot be "socially responsible," their purpose is to provide the highest possible returns to their shareholders and good products at the great bargains, relative to their compet ...more
Kevin
This book is an excellent overview of how our system of capitalism works, and how it used to work. He talks about the ways in which our system is good and the ways it is bad, and at the end he presents some pretty reasonable suggestions for how it could be improved so that we still have a thriving capitalist society but our voices as citizens aren't drowned out. While I disagree with some of his suggestions, most I would agree with, and his overall point is that we often don't have a chance to e ...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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