Alistair Bryson presents a look at the theories and real-life results of laissez-faire economists and their policies in his book Free-Market Champions.
Despite the subtitle’s questions—”Belief? Ideology? Philosophy?”—which might indicate some question as to the book’s slant, Bryson, comes across forcefully against the excesses of the free market. The holder of an economics degree and co-founder of a trade publishing company, he explains the theories of Adam Smith and Arthur Laffer, and makes a convincing case for why the theories of John Maynard Keynes, who endorsed a larger, more active role for government in a country’s economy, have been proven more accurate and useful than the others.
Bryson demonstrates a deep knowledge of economics, keeps away from overly technical explanations, and illustrates his points by comparing them to everyday situations, but he writes in a verbose style that sometimes makes for difficult reading: “For orientation; if we loosely compare the central bank with the refinery in our fuel supply chain then we can further loosely compare the stock market and all associated financial endeavours with the filling station where financial products may be obtained in a similar manner to the fuel we purchase for our motors.”
The book is full of insightful quotations from economists, but Bryson neglects to give their sources, provide footnotes, or an index. Still, the enlightened non-academic tone of the book can be refreshing (and amusing) in parts, such as when Bryson illustrates the most recent financial crisis through the story of a fictional bar in Dublin whose apparent success is actually highly leveraged through “Drinkbonds” and “Alkibonds.”
Treading a middle ground as an educated gentleman observer, Bryson’s Free-Market Champions may be of interest to economic professionals, as well as curious laymen.
Also available as an ebook.