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Radical Markets: Uprooting Capitalism and Democracy for a Just Society

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  1,233 ratings  ·  196 reviews
Revolutionary ideas on how to use markets to bring about fairness and prosperity for all

Many blame today's economic inequality, stagnation, and political instability on the free market. The solution is to rein in the market, right? Radical Markets turns this thinking--and pretty much all conventional thinking about markets, both for and against--on its head. The book revea
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published May 15th 2018 by Princeton University Press
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May 26, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: economics
This book introduces five provocative ideas for major economic and political reforms: a common-ownership self-assessed tax (COST) for taxing property, quadratic voting for political influence, a visas between individuals program (VIP) for liberalizing immigration, breaking up institutional investors' ability to own large stakes across an industry, and vague digital unions so "technoserfs" are paid for their digital labor.

The arguments for the proposals get steadily weaker through the book, to t
Jul 18, 2018 rated it did not like it
Absolutely the most insufferable book I have read in years, and I have an ulterior motive to like it since I'm cited in it. Somehow despite living in the US, on earth, for several decades, the authors have not gotten the memo that RICH PEOPLE IMMEDIATELY GET TO WORK RIGGING ANY SOCIAL STRUCTURE THE MOMENT IT COMES INTO EXISTENCE. And that the one and only solution that has consistently worked historically is CLASS STRUGGLE. Instead of recognizing this to any degree whatsoever, the authors instea ...more
Nov 03, 2021 rated it it was amazing
"Radical Markets" is an excellent book on the fascinating topic of mechanism design. Designed mechanisms are all around us. Take a look at eBay auctions. What about the US presidential elections? Why do they have the rules they have instead of a different set of rules? Are some mechanisms more effective than others at achieving particular outcomes?

I disagree with a lot of the specific implementation details proposed in this book. Nevertheless, this is a five stars book because I like where the a
Daniel Roberts
May 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
From its Table of Contents, “Radical Markets” might seem to be a meandering hodgepodge of thought experiments. Each chapter elaborates on specific and unexpected areas where “radical markets” might be introduced in their current absence, but the interrelation of these case studies and policy proposals can appear tenuous. Book projects in the social sciences are typically deep elaborations on a tight substantive areas. However, the contrasting breadth of “Radical Markets” isn’t an overreach beyon ...more
Athan Tolis
Oct 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ec-and-finance
So I ordered this without paying enough attention to notice that, for all his references to Gary Becker in the introduction, co-author Eric Posner is… my age!

Turns out he’s the son of judge Richard Posner, from whose text, along with Polinsky’s, my teacher Keith Hylton introduced me to the subject of Law and Economics some thirty (gulp!) years ago and whose blog with Gary Becker was such a joy to read until Becker’s recent passing.

Eric Posner and his co-author Glen Weyl start by surveying the st
John  Mihelic
Nov 04, 2018 rated it liked it
When this came out, the real focus was on the immigration proposal that was more or less slavery with extra steps. Then there was also the part where all property is continually for sale. I wasn't sympathetic to most of the proposals they had in here - one, quantum voting sounds interesting but can also feel full of holes once you start asking questions - because they feel like some sort of rehashed cross between radical libertarianism and public choice. These both have been in practice used as ...more
Wendy Liu
Interesting in places. The authors diagnose some of the political & economic problems we're facing today, but (imo) underestimate their scale/importance. And I'm not convinced by the solutions they propose, which range from the bizarre and frankly unethical (improving the US immigration system by allowing individuals to "import" migrants as indentured servants...?) to the really mundane (changes to voting design, which might be a small step up, but hardly seem radical given the problems diagnose ...more
Sep 04, 2018 rated it did not like it
Absolutely impractical, unworkable technocratic drivel.
Jason Furman
Jun 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A brilliant, provocative work that is somewhere along the spectrum between economics and science fiction. The book is framed around a critique of economics that belies its central thrust—which is the unsparing discussion of how various systems straight out of mechanism design but often untethered from any psychological/historical/enforcement/implementation considerations could help make highly rational, utility/profit-maximizing agents better off.

Each chapter develops and presents a specific pro
Sreejith Puthanpurayil
Jul 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Though not every idea in this book was fully convincing, the quality of the unique ideas that were was enough to give this 5 stars. Redefining the ownership model of physical property (land, resources, energy, water etc) to an auction-based model is one of those interesting ideas.

The idea is that property, as currently defined, acts like a monopoly in the sense that it prohibits others from using that resource to offer more value to society if the owner prohibits from selling it. One can look a
Bartosz Pranczke
Nov 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020
What a great food for thought this book is. Very rarely a book dominates my thinking for weeks like Radical Markets managed to do.

The book covers topics that we seldom challange in a serious but peaceful way like the taxation system(how to make it more fair but also limit inequalities), voting (is there a better system than democracy), migration, monopolies and the use of data by corporations. The books is worthy 5 stars not because the solutions it gives are perfect (they are not), but because
Feb 21, 2022 rated it it was ok
Are some of the ideas in this book worth considering and further developing to make them more useful? Yes. Are these the authors to learn them from? No. A few points:

1. The authors manage to talk about migration, in 2018, as a process that comes about by people making rational choices in moments where they can fully consider their options. Not a single mention of climate change. This fits with their failure to engage with any ecological thinking whatsoever. "Some people will care more about redu
Jun 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Overall, one of the best books I've ever read. Basically describes ways markets could be used to increase economic inefficiency, decrease inequality (and in particular, increase the proportion of rewards going to productive labor vs. accumulated capital), and fix various systems (political and social). Largely an extension of the ideas of William S. Vickrey.

Things I particularly liked about the book: a credible argument against "conventional" Georgist land-value tax (difficulties in valuation),
Nov 30, 2018 marked it as to-read
I was led to this book by the authors' excellent and very thought-provoking article on Liberty versus Monopoly, which argues that the "business-libertarian nexus of the late twentieth and early twenty-first century [so beloved of Silicon Valley types] is an aberration, with a brief history and no future." Lots of great historical perspectives on the evolution of political-economic theory in the US. If the book is as good as this essay it's a must read.
Mar 28, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobook, sociology
After having read this as part of our EA reading group, we will probably use quadratic voting to choose books until we finally get prediction markets that estimate the highest expected utility for each and every book (so far we chose The Book of Why) (quadratic voting online app). I liked the book, I had mechanism design on my That Sounds Pretty Cool list for maybe 7 years and I really find it pretty cool. I read Robin Hansons critique beforehand (which I'll try to avoid even more going forward, ...more
Jun 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
So this law and economics guy walks into a bar ...

I had heard some good reviews of this book and put it in my queue. Then someone I told about it got back to me and said it was fairly good - a bit wacky but worth a read. So ...

It is actually worth reading. The premise is that market ideas can address some contemporary problems, but only if markets are unleashed and allowed to work in a radical fashion. Then through the magic of mechanism design (and a bunch of math that gets left in the basic re
Alex Cloak
Nov 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: finance
Probably the most important book of the year, as it provides five clear examples of applying free market economy to solve the most ardent problems of our times, at the behest of common good and
social equality. I am confident there will be follow-ups in future writings and hope to see some of the newly proposed solutions applied to a functional economy.
Ozzie Gooen
Sep 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
I like what they are aiming for. Unsure about the specific mentioned proposals, but hope that this is the start of a much more significant body of work.
Ramnath Iyer
Apr 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Bold burst of fresh air thinking

This is book is nothing if not ambitious. To paraphrase the words of the authors Eric Posner and Glen Weyl, they react to the growing populism in the West by “aiming to give people hope based not on giving more power to governments, but on empowering individuals through markets to have more freedom”. Talk about ambition! The aim is nothing less than to use markets to solve a plethora of the world’s woes – from wealth concentration to skewed stock market ownership
Szymon Kulec
Jun 18, 2021 rated it it was amazing
What a book! Thought provoking, backed up by a lot of literature and names that are well known in an economic world. The book proposes changes that, if applied, can evolve the way we live our lives, how we interact with the market and each other. I use evolve instead revolve as in my opinion even if the proposed changes, reforms are huge, I'd treat them as a next step in moving forward.

If you're interested in markets with less monopoly, better voting systems, evolution of our society, this is a
Alper Çuğun
Mar 21, 2021 rated it really liked it
"So you like markets? Let's push markets as far as they can go." —"Not like this!"

Most people who say they like markets use it as an excuse to cover up their desire to maintain entrenched power relations, monopolies and inequality.

I like many of the proposals in this book but more than that I think the way of thinking about society, coordination and exchange is very valuable. I've seen a talk by Weyl where he supersedes many of the ideas in the book based on new evidence and research.

Is there a
Jonathan Mckay
Apr 09, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: economics
Radical economics introduces a few ideas that serve as valuable thought experiments, even though none could be considered a serious policy proposal. The one closest to my expertise was a complete waste, so even though I'd like to give the book a higher rating, landed at 3 stars.

1. Property taxation marketplace -- The premise is that we could use markets to self-enforce valuations on property tax, thus incentivizing property owners declare the actual value of each item they own. I was convinced,
Sebastian Gebski
Feb 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
5 stars for 1 single reasons - it IS thought-provoking & it actually spurs you to THINK, consider, evaluate & confront the concepts suggested in the book. Contrary to the initial impression, it doesn't really wrap ready-to-use ideas, but it's practical enough to avoid being a foggy utopia (at least in majority of cases).

On the other hand, the ideas are ... uneven. Not only in terms of detail, but also in terms of "polishing". Going through all the 5 major chapters:
* COST - I totally loved it, it
Nilesh Jasani
Feb 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The book’s last chapter should have been its first. What I write in the next few paragraphs is based on the topic in the chapter. The descriptions are to preface what the authors attempt in the book although they are mostly mine. Economic societies are highly complex systems. With millions of variables and unknown equations, there is no easy way to optimize them. As various communist experiences proved at high costs, any central body that tries to manage an economy top-down by allocating resourc ...more
Jul 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
I'm not entirely convinced by any of the proposals, the writing sometimes bogs down, and despite containing more detail than the average popular book, some of the explanations feel quite handwavy. But this is tasty food for thought.

The proposals include:

* A 'common ownership self-assessed tax' (COST), which in its most radical form would be applied to all property. Owners would have to self-assess the value of everything they own, and would be taxed accordingly, at a rate that would vary accordi
Laurent Franckx
Nov 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Economists are all familiar with Keynes' quip that "soon or late, it is ideas, not vested interests, which are dangerous for good or evil."
Keynes would probably have been surprised to discover that after the Second World War, the ideas of economists increasingly dealt with technical issues such as equilibrium concepts in game theory and representing increasing returns to scale in models of economic growth and international trade.
However, as Posner and Weyl point out, the great economists of the
Lars Plougmann
Jan 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
A book on economic theory and mechanism design may not be for everyone. But the authors of Radical Markets have done an impressive job representing their ideas with just enough economic history and explanation of incentives that the book will appeal to anyone who is curious about how we can tweak our society to improve the way it works.

As the authors point out, markets and property rights are human constructs. Both have limits in usefulness and also limits imposed by laws on how far they reach.
Lucas Gelfond
Nov 20, 2021 rated it it was ok
what a phd in economics does to an mf

if I could give halves I prob would’ve given 2.5, this def stalled toward the end but I really wanted to finish / give it a real chance before being super critical

I think i’m more sympathetic than the median left-leaner to “third way” or “radical centrism” type “flaws of the left, flaws of the right” arguments AND to mechanism design/market-based solutions but remained broadly unimpressed/disappointed through the end. most of this didn’t feel thorough/rigoro
Mar 15, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
If a work of speculative "Black Mirror"-esque fiction were to meet in-depth, well-cited and researched economic, political, and legal theory, it would be "Radical Markets" by legal scholar Eric Posner and economist E. Glen Weyl.

Separated into cogent presentations on five ideas of ways markets and our democratic politics can be reworked to make our systems and institutions more equitable and just, "Radical Markets" poses theories on blending the line between public and private property ownership,
Lorenzo Barberis Canonico
May 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
The mix of game theory, political science, and economic thinking was right up my alley. In many ways, this book is a great example of how mechanism design can literally change everything in society by aligning incentive structures with optimal outcomes for all. Btw this is the book that unveiled the concept of quadratic voting, which is a core mechanic in many contemporary crypto applications and blockchain, including Tezos. 
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Eric Posner is the Kirkland & Ellis Professor of Law at The University of Chicago.

His books include Law and Social Norms (Harvard 2000); Chicago Lectures in Law and Economics (Foundation 2000) (editor); Cost-Benefit Analysis: Legal, Economic, and Philosophical Perspectives (University of Chicago 2001) (editor, with Matthew Adler); The Limits of International Law (Oxford 2005) (with Jack Goldsmith)

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“This arrangement, in which users take advantage of services and the company gains all the upside of the data they generate, may sound novel, but it is actually very old. Prior to the rise of capitalism, feudal labor arrangements worked similarly. Lords insulated their serfs from fluctuations in markets and guaranteed them safety and traditional rights to use the land and to keep enough of their crop to survive. In exchange, lords took all the upside of the market return on serfs’ agricultural output. Similarly, today, siren servers provide useful and enjoyable information services, while taking the market value of the data we produce in exchange. We thus refer to this contemporary system as “technofeudalism.” 2 likes
“The logical end point of institutional investment and diversification is the coordination of all capital to extract maximum wealth from consumers and workers.” 0 likes
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