This book is about questions of evident importance to which there appear to be no obvious answers. Why is economic growth and prosperity in the world so patchy and unstable? Why are countries in the East doing so much better in growth terms than those in the West? Why have incomes for so many people in both Europe and the USA stagnated for long periods? Why is there so much inequality – and debt? Are all these conditions inevitable or are there more effective ways of ordering our economic affairs which could achieve better results?
The message in this book is that there are better policies available and that a study of our economic history, and the ideas which have shaped it, is capable of showing what they might be. The approach adopted is to review in parallel both how our economies have developed and how thinking about economic policy has evolved, to enable us to learn lessons from successive phases of our economic history on what went well and what went badly and what guidance might be gleaned from them for the future.