The Surprising Design of Market Economies

Paperback | February 1, 2014

byAlex Marshall

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The "free market" has been a hot topic of debate for decades. Proponents tout it as a cure-all for just about everything that ails modern society, while opponents blame it for the very same ills. But the heated rhetoric obscures one very important, indeed fundamental, fact—markets don't just run themselves; we create them.

Starting from this surprisingly simple, yet often ignored or misunderstood fact, Alex Marshall takes us on a fascinating tour of the fundamentals that shape markets and, through them, our daily economic lives. He debunks the myth of the "free market," showing how markets could not exist without governments to create the structures through which we assert ownership of property, real and intellectual, and conduct business of all kinds. Marshall also takes a wide-ranging look at many other structures that make markets possible, including physical infrastructure ranging from roads and railroads to water systems and power lines; mental and cultural structures such as common languages and bodies of knowledge; and the international structures that allow goods, services, cash, bytes, and bits to flow freely around the globe.

Sure to stimulate a lively public conversation about the design of markets, this broadly accessible overview of how a market economy is constructed will help us create markets that are fairer, more prosperous, more creative, and more beautiful.

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From the Publisher

The "free market" has been a hot topic of debate for decades. Proponents tout it as a cure-all for just about everything that ails modern society, while opponents blame it for the very same ills. But the heated rhetoric obscures one very important, indeed fundamental, fact—markets don't just run themselves; we create them.Starting from...

From the way roads and rails shape our cities to the way laws shape our economies, Alex Marshall has long sought and explored the underlying systems that shape our worlds. A journalist, writer, and former Loeb Fellow at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design, he is the author of How Cities Work: Suburbs, Sprawl, and the Roads N...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:288 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.82 inPublished:February 1, 2014Publisher:University Of Texas PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0292756755

ISBN - 13:9780292756755

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Table of Contents

Introduction. The Designer Disappears: Markets and Their MakersSection One. On the Books: The Markets We Make by Law 1. Coming into Being: In Praise of Markets 2. Me and Mine: Property, the First Market 3. Lex Non Scripta: The Laws We Don't Make, or, the Common Law 4. I Am My Brother's Keeper: Cooperatives 5. Trust: How We Cooperate to Compete 6. Staking Claims on the Mind: Intellectual Property 7. Little Commonwealths: Corporations and the State That Creates Them 8. The Future of CorporationsSection Two. Infrastructure: The Markets We Make by Hand 9. From Highways to Health Care: Progress through Infrastructure 10. Making Places 11. The Great Nineteenth-Century Train Robbery 12. A Socialist Paradise: The American Road System 13. Waiting for a Train Station 14. What We Did Before: Path Dependence and Markets 15. Police and Prisons: Freedom, Security, and Democracy 16. Why Don't You Make Me? Government and ForceSection Three. Seeding the Fields: The Markets We Make in Our Minds 17. Common Tongue, Common Culture, Common MarketsSection Four. The Markets We Build Abroad 18. By Your Bootstraps: Developing Countries and Markets 19. Last Night upon the Stairs: International LawSection Five. Looking Forward: Making Better Markets Conclusion. Making Better MarketsAfterword. My Own Story: A Circuitous JourneyAcknowledgmentsNotesSelected BibliographyIndex

Editorial Reviews

The “free market” has been a hot topic of debate for decades. Proponents tout it as a cure-all for just about everything that ails modern society, while opponents blame it for the very same ills. But the heated rhetoric obscures one very important, indeed fundamental, fact—markets don’t just run themselves; we create them. Starting from this surprisingly simple, yet often ignored or misunderstood fact, Alex Marshall takes us on a fascinating tour of the fundamentals that shape markets and, through them, our daily economic lives. He debunks the myth of the “free market,” showing how markets could not exist without governments to create the structures through which we assert ownership of property, real and intellectual, and conduct business of all kinds. Marshall also takes a wide-ranging look at many other structures that make markets possible, including physical infrastructure ranging from roads and railroads to water systems and power lines; mental and cultural structures such as common languages and bodies of knowledge; and the international structures that allow goods, services, cash, bytes, and bits to flow freely around the globe. Sure to stimulate a lively public conversation about the design of markets, this broadly accessible overview of how a market economy is constructed will help us create markets that are fairer, more prosperous, more creative, and more beautiful.We make the rules and the rules make us. So argues Alex Marshall in this brilliant and fascinating exploration of the nature and human design of markets. A must read. - David Morris, Cofounder, Institute for Local Self-Reliance