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Franco Malerba, Sunil Mani and Pamela Adams
Edited by Franco Malerba, Sunil Mani and Pamela Adams
Capitalism was not an inevitable historical evolution, but a unique combination of a particular emphasis on the value of individuals and individual property rights. During the past three centuries, as McCloskey has estimated it, individuals in the Western world have become richer by a factor of 30. Schumpeter wrote what was intended to be history of it in terms of economic ‘cycles’, but was weak on the causality of these because he did not give enough importance to institutions. However, in the form of changing property rights, these are the key to the origin and development of capitalism. The wealth that this generated came from technological innovation, but the pace of this slowed after World War I, and after a brief resurgence due to the Second World War, it was progressively replaced by innovations in finance. Capitalism’s power to generate real wealth was eroded from within, and Schumpeter’s prediction of its replacement by socialism became increasingly plausible.