Has Capitalism Failed?
The cartoon of a dollar note is seen sticked to computer screens at the stock exchange in Frankfurt, central Germany, on Friday, Oct. 10, 2008. European stock markets slumped further on Friday following massive losses on Wall Street and Asia on mounting fears that this week's efforts by central banks and governments to break the logjam in credit markets have failed to ease lending rates between banks. (AP)

The cartoon of a dollar note is seen stuck to computer screens at the stock exchange in Frankfurt, Germany, on Oct. 10, 2008. (AP)

Judge Richard Posner is one of the nation’s most prolific legal defenders of free-market economics. Appointed by Ronald Reagan, he’s a “Chicago school” laissez-faire man from way back — a creator and defender of the free-market theory that has guided American thinking and deregulation for thirty years.

And now, Judge Posner is talking about a “failure of capitalism.” About “re-regulating.” This isn’t a recession, he says. It’s a depression. And we have to change.

This hour, On Point: Richard Posner, and former Labor Secretary Robert Reich, on capitalism and the U.S. economy now.

Tell us what you think — here on this page, on Twitter, and on Facebook.


Richard Posner joins us from Chicago. He has been one of the leading lights in the conservative “Chicago School” of economics and of the so-called “Law and Economics” school of thought. He is a prolific author of the law and the marketplace, and his most recent book is called “A Failure of Capitalism: The Crisis of ’08 and the Descent into Depression.”

Judge Posner is posting updates on the economic situation and policy responses on a new blog at

Robert Reich joins us from Berkeley, Calif. He was Secretary of Labor under President Bill Clinton and is now a professor of public policy at the University of California at Berkeley. His most recent book is “Supercapitalism: The Transformation of Business, Democracy, and Everyday Life.”

More links:

Nobel economist Robert Solow reviews “A Failure of Capitalism” in The New York Review of Books. He says the book is “an event,” and notes that if he had made these arguments it wouldn’t be news. But “from Richard Posner, it is.”

Robert Kuttner reviews Posner’s book, along with several others, in The American Prospect. He writes: “conversions would be a little easier to take if the convert had the decency to concede that his earlier mistaken theories had collided with reality. Posner, however, doesn’t look back.” Still, “one should welcome Posner’s book even if it is a reversal without a recantation.”

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