ESMT Open Lecture with Giacomo Corneo

Is Capitalism Obsolete?

After communism collapsed in the former Soviet Union, capitalism seemed to many observers like the only game in town, and questioning it became taboo for academic economists. But the financial crisis, chronic unemployment, and the inexorable rise of inequality have resurrected the question of whether there is a feasible and desirable alternative to capitalism. Against this backdrop of growing disenchantment, Giacomo Corneo presents a refreshingly antidogmatic review of economic systems, taking as his launching point a fictional argument between a daughter indignant about economic injustice and her father, a professor of economics.

"Is Capitalism Obsolete?" begins when the daughter’s angry complaints prompt her father to reply that capitalism cannot responsibly be abolished without an alternative in mind. He invites her on a tour of tried and proposed economic systems in which production and consumption obey noncapitalistic rules. These range from Plato’s Republic to diverse modern models, including anarchic communism, central planning, and a stakeholder society. Some of these alternatives have considerable strengths. But daunting problems arise when the basic institutions of capitalism—markets and private property—are suppressed. Ultimately, the father argues, all serious counterproposals to capitalism fail to pass the test of economic feasibility. Then the story takes an unexpected turn. Father and daughter jointly come up with a proposal to gradually transform the current economic system so as to share prosperity and foster democratic participation.


Tuesday, January 23, 2018,
12:30 p.m.

"Is Capitalism Obsolete?"
ESMT Berlin, Schlossplatz 1, 10178 Berlin

SpeakerGiacomo Corneo, Professor of Public Finance and Social Policy at the Free University of Berlin
Moderator: Rajshri Jayaraman, Associate Professor of Economics and Faculty Lead of the Full-time MBA Program, ESMT Berlin


About the speaker

Giacomo Corneo is Professor of Public Finance and Social Policy at the Free University of Berlin. He studied economics at Universitá Bocconi in Milan, received a Ph.D. from the European Doctoral Program in Quantitative Economics and got Habilitation at the University of Bonn. He taught at ENPC in Paris, at the University of Bonn, and the University of Osnabrück. He served as senior advisor at Ministère de l'Economie et des Finances in Paris.

He has been since 2004 managing editor of the Journal of Economics. He is co-editor of Perspektiven der Wirtschaftspolitik and serves as associate editor of the International Review of Economics and the Annals of Public and Cooperative Economics. He is Research Fellow of CEPR, London, CESifo, Munich, IMK, Düsseldorf, and IZA, Bonn.

He has published several works in the fields of public economics, labor economics, comparative economics, industrial organization, and growth theory. His papers appear in various periodicals, including American Economic Review, Journal of Public Economics, International Economic Review, European Economic Review, Journal of Labor Economics. He has written three books. His research interests include inequality and redistribution, public finance, and the economics of values and norms. He is the director of the Ph.D. program “Public Economics and Inequality”.