Economists tend to avoid foggy concepts such as community and society, preferring to stick with the stuff you can measure. However, Rajan, who is sometimes tipped as a future governor of the Bank of England, is no stranger to stepping beyond his brief ... an important contribution to understanding why, a decade on from the crisis, the world’s politics and economics remain so brittle ... It is a grand, sweeping argument, and much of the book is given over to the history of how we got here and a mini guide to capitalism. Rajan, a critic trying to save capitalism from itself, makes his point in accessible, clear prose ... All interesting suggestions, although in the face of such an enormous problem they seem rather underwhelming. Perhaps this is to be expected. Too many politicians have talked a good game on reinvigorating community spirit without making much difference.
Compelling ... That community matters might seem a banal observation to non-economists. But it sits inconveniently alongside many aspects of an economist’s worldview ... Promising solutions are hard to come by. Still, Mr Rajan offers reasonable recommendations.
Rajan says he is seeking 'the right balance between them so that society prospers.' But he lacks the courage of his convictions. What begins as an incisive critique of how economists and policymakers abandoned community ends as a dismaying illustration of the problem ... threads dissolve in the hundreds of pages of vaguely sketched economic history that follow. While ably describing how both a growing market and a growing state have eroded the community’s relevance and vitality over time, Rajan gradually redefines the third pillar from 'communities whose members live in proximity' to merely democracy or the 'voting public.' An intrinsically valuable and varied local institution congeals into a homogeneous tool for ensuring that the market and state behave. When genuine community does make a return in the book’s section on prescriptions, Rajan sacrifices it willingly.