Book Review: ‘Unintended Consequences,’ by Edward Conard – Businessweek
With his bashing of private equity, Barack Obama has given Mitt Romney a huge opening. Edward Conard, Romney’s friend and former partner at Bain Capital, is eagerly seizing that opportunity with his manifesto for private investment, Unintended Consequences: Why Everything You’ve Been Told About the Economy Is Wrong. Conard is eloquent and passionate about the virtue of investment and even the merits of America’s trade deficit. He’s the ideal guy to challenge post-crash criticisms of America’s market economy, and to serve as a sort of shadow debating captain against the Democrats’ populist instincts.
Regrettably, Conard overplays his hand. As far off the rails as Obama can be in attacking Bain for chasing profits—which is merely capitalism at work—Conard goes him one better. You know the Democrats’ caricature of Republicans who only care about rich people? Well, meet Ed Conard.
The thesis of Unintended Consequences is that risky investment drives improved productivity, which in turn drives higher wages and living standards for the poor and the rich. This is standard trickle-down, and it’s not much in dispute. The trouble is where Conard goes with it. He chalks America’s superior performance up to the country’s being basically a capitalist nirvana. As he puts it—with characteristic humility—“U.S. innovators have produced Intel [INTC], Microsoft [MSFT], Google [GOOG], Facebook [FB], etc. The rest of the world has contributed next to nothing.”
Nonetheless, Conard thinks that the U.S. is short on capital. And if someone has to sacrifice in order to facilitate more investment, Conard, a card-carrying member of the 0.1 percent, is perfectly willing to nominate people who are less well off than he is.
Strange Random Book Quote:
“The books that help you the most are those which make you think the most.” – Theodore Parker
- Former Bain Capital Director And Top Romney Donor Pens Book Calling For Even More Income Inequality (thinkprogress.org)
- This may not be the best defense of capitalism, ever (theblaze.com)
- Ed Conard: The Man Behind the ‘Most Hated Book in America’ (Video) (bigthink.com)
- Timothy Noah: Why Those Praising Income Inequality Are Wrong (huffingtonpost.com)
- Edward Conard: payoffs for risk-taking are essential (cnnpressroom.blogs.cnn.com)
- Americans Like the Rich, and the Rich Benefit America (taxprof.typepad.com)
- Top Romney Economic Adviser Takes Ideas Of Donor Who Wants More Income Inequality ‘Seriously’ (thinkprogress.org)
- Mitt Romney’s Top Donor On Wealth Inequality: The Wealthy Should Be Wealthier So All Can Benefit (crooksandliars.com)