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Cowboy Capitalism: European Myths, American Reality Hardcover – 1 Sep 2004

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 212 pages
  • Publisher: Cato Institute (1 Sept. 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1930865627
  • ISBN-13: 978-1930865624
  • Product Dimensions: 15.7 x 2.1 x 23.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,687,615 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By j. sheldrake on 16 Oct. 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Rather out of date post 2008
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 16 reviews
51 of 55 people found the following review helpful
Destroys the European Myths of American Capitalism 13 Jan. 2005
By Monty Rainey - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This book shatters any doubt that a free-market system is far superior to government regulations when it comes to maintaining a healthy economy. Capitalists will admire the level of precision with which Gersemann destroys the arguments of those opposed to the American system of capitalism.

Detractors who favor the European system (at least those with the intellectual ability to do so) will concede to the error of this thinking. The book is comprised of short narratives followed up by indepth explanations with which the author incessantly debunks myth after myth of the European view of American capitalism ranging from second jobs to taxation.

Gersemann's writing will appeal to both the economic layman and the economic scholar. The layman will be endowed with a newfound knowledge of economics while the economist will be delighted with the statistical analysis that will challenge the wits of the most overeducated of peers.

As great as all this is, I must mention the absolute icing on the cake of this fine book. Cowboy Capitalism will surely prove a means of holding accountable those politicians who, destructively as one must conclude after reading this book, seek to transform our system of free market into a mirror of European government intervention.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Written for Europeans - Should be required reading for Americans 19 April 2006
By M. Strong - Published on
Format: Paperback
The big three continental European economies - Germany, France and Italy - often look at the US free-market economic system with scorn. They see it as brutal and inhumane and refer to it derisively as "Cowboy Capitalism." Olaf Gerssemann is a German reporter who decided to look into the facts and truly compare the old-line economies of Europe to the United States' economy. What he finds out is just as instructive for Americans as it is for any European.

We as Americans hear a lot about the troubles and problems in our country. We hear plenty about layoffs and about corporate greed and corruption. There's probably something healthy about that - it certainly keeps us from getting complacent. However, we hear surprisingly little about how much is going right in our country and in our economy, perhaps because it's so obvious. But the obvious is most easily missed because it goes unnoticed.

That is where this book shines. Gersemann took no propoganda for granted. He did what few of us have the time or inclination to do - went and looked up the facts and found out the truth for himself. What he found is that on almost every economic front on which the Europeans (and many Americans) tend to slam this country and its economy, the United States far execeeded its European counterparts in terms of providing for its citizens. As he shows repeatedly, this doesn't just mean the wealthiest citizens either.

Gersemann covers employment, quality of employment, safety of employment, ability to find a new job when unemployed, wealth creation, education, health care and more. The results are really important for Americans to know. If more people would read this book, we couldn't be so easily deceived by politicians playing on our fears to push their own agendas.

Highly recommended.
19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
A Must Read 3 May 2005
By Andrew R. Dejoseph - Published on
Format: Hardcover
The is an excellent, easy to read book that should be required reading for all high school students. I'm really surprised that this book doesn't seem to be getting more notice in the media. I'm a political junkie, subscribe to 8 political journals, and in the process read a lot of economics. My political views were more socialist when I graduated from college, but got more moderate as I kept doing my homework. When I got done reading this book, it gave me a full belief in the superiority of the capitalistic system, and I voted Republican for the first time in my life. In the book, the author goes through all of the most pertienent economic issues, comparing and contrasting the American and European Systems, and does an incredible job showing the superiority of the American one.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Challenge - not propaganda. 20 April 2007
By J. F. Laurson - Published on
Format: Paperback
It is surprising that "Cowboy Capitalism", recommended by two nobel laureates (the late Friedman and Buchanan), would be accused of propaganda by a critical voice (Newton Ooi, below) who first proceeded to point out that all the facts it presents are true. "Cowboy Capitlism" has an agenda, of course - an agenda to show through the raw numbers that European (or NYTimes readers') perceptions of the two economic systems of central Europe and the US are skewed... that there is more to the differences and the benefits/detriments that each system offers, than is popularily acknowledged. Fear and suspicions (and lack of knowledge) are the cause of this - rather than facts. This book pokes fun at the former by trying to reveal the latter.

In doing so, CC is actually rather fair. It does not pretend that the European economic system is per se inferior to the US System. In fact, there were times in which it was rather superior. (Times of great economic stability had Germany, for example, grow its economy at a pace well above that of the US. Or healthcare - where Europe admittedly piggy-bag rides on US consumers' expenses, but which Gersemann has no probolem stating is a matter of preference, not "better" or "worse".)

Anyway... to look at the criticism listed below:

Home Ownership: The argument that because of higher population density, home ownership would *naturally* be less ("less land to build on") is completely ludicrous. What would follow that argument would be mass-homelessness, not low ownership rates. People in Europe still live in places... the question is: why don't they own? Apartments count, too, you know! (Density contributes to homes being more affordable - which is one of the reasons. Red tape making ownership more difficult is another. Rent-protection is yet another. (And when looking at entire countries, the numbers *are* meaningful. The author did not compare only New York to rural Europe.)

Education: I'm European, so I don't want to argue the point that by going to high school I am automatically smarter than a US college graduate... even though I had to learn that knowing where Malaysa and Phoenix are (I've 'always' known), somehow don't give me the edge on the job-market that I thought it would. :-( There are Americans who audaciously compete with me, despite flagrant lack of geographical knowledge... And win out! Perhaps other factors matter, too? Drats.

Unemployment rates are not measured by whether one "has to work" or not. Unemployment rates are measured by how many people *want* to work and can't. A busy little Hausfrau who takes care of the kids and whose husband makes enough to support the entire family doesn't show up in the unemployment numbers, because she probably doesn't run out and declare herself unemployed. So the higher numbers of unemployment of women in Europe reflect women who "have to work" -- but won't find a job. And that's the real problem... whether one likes the social ramnification and the dissolution of the family nucleus or not.

Computer use, Internet access et al. in Germany is well behind that of the US. Especially among the crowd that didn't grow up with them.

Computers, even made from recycled materials or made with the use of recycled parts (I've done that, years ago, but I wonder how common that still is) would still show up as a computer sold... They don't sit around trash-heaps and maker their own computers out of trash, after all.

The last point - oil-war-obesety-pharma-industry - is a little too dense fore me to get into. I am baffled.

Cowboy Capitalism does not pretend not to take sides. But it wants to show that it takes the side of greater economic freedom, because there are benefits to more people to be had - at the price of less security for others. (That's obviously a gross oversimplification... but aims in the right direction, I should believe.) The way this book does it is humorous (in a dry way) and merciless... but not with blindfolds or immune to "inconvenient" facts. This is a must-read for when your European friends come over to visit and try to tell you why everything is so much better in the old part of the world. (30% youth unemployment in France, a terribly efficient but very rigid economy, are just one of many points to consider...)

P.S. The Thinktank CATO is a libertarian institution, not a conservative one. The two overlap on many issues, but are not the same. (Legalization of drugs, Gay marriage et al. are points libertarians support; conservatives by-and-large don't.)
24 of 30 people found the following review helpful
Examines common misperceptions of the American economy 8 Nov. 2004
By Midwest Book Review - Published on
Format: Hardcover
German reporter Olaf Gersemann examines common misperceptions of the American economy in Cowboy Capitalism, providing a survey of the continental econ-omies of Europe versus the United States and examining common myths and realities on both sides of the world. His survey reveals a variety of myths many Europeans believe about Americans and their economy, discussing the realities underlying the rumors. An excellent survey most valuable for its expose of European common sentiments about the U.S.
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