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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 6 November 2017
If we believe much of what passes for the political narrative of the last 40 years it would be easy to imagine that it is the state that stifles innovation, restricts enterprise and burdens citizens and businesses with unnecessary regulation, wasteful expenditure and life sapping tax policies. As with every argument, there may be some truth there, lurking in the intellectual undergrowth, but how much of it is a shaky justification for perpetuating the currently socially injurious power relations?

What the Left and indeed the Centre Right in British politics has needed a core of ideas and beliefs (as well as credible historical examples /policy ideas)that can justify the idea that the role of the state in the politico eco-system is vital to the future growth and prosperity of the economy. This rigorously researched, tightly argued, accessible book is indeed a sturdy intellectual platform for those readers who feel that free markets are only part of the story in the way that the modern economy functions. Readers of a more Libertarian hue, will also have much to ponder here. Understanding the role of state and its promotion of enterprise and innovation will undoubtedly turn more than a few heads!

Here are some of the core ideas:

Industry – farming, consumer electronics, construction, aviation, banking to name but a few has always relied upon sought state intervention in one form or another: subsidy, protectionist policies, ‘bailing out’, tax breaks, incentives, regulatory frame works and so on. The corporate world likes government when it is acting in the interests of business but the tone changes when some degree of reciprocity or responsibility is required.

Engineering firms, chemical producers, capital goods producers, defence contractors have regularly get to taste the honey of public largesse, sometimes just to keep capacity or expertise ( see shipyards) available. The drug industry of course has a major customer in the form of the NHS.

Business needs government in times of recession to exercise its influence in the economy via expansionary fiscal and monetary policies. The only problem is of course, corporations are notoriously adept at managing their revenue flows to reduce their tax liabilities to negligible proportions whilst taking full advantage of all the opportunities that operating in an advanced economy such as the UK offers.

Primary research is essentially a public good. Mazzucato suggests that companies such as Apple benefit from research undertaken elsewhere. The genius of Steve Jobs was to harness ideas (such as touchscreen technology) and incorporate them into a pleasing consumer products. This is product development rather than the sort of research that can lead to fundamental shifts in technology or scientific understanding such as provided by nuclear research or the development of the internet. Research has become increasingly from state sponsorship and the activities of universities, not corporations. The private sector takes advantage of such research without paying their due.

The state fosters enterprise, it creates opportunities for business, it educates citizens, and it can create new markets (green power). The state can do so much more then be a market gatekeeper and corrector of market failures. In short, markets need government. What government has to do is gain expertise, be prepared to ‘fail’ sometimes and become more confident in the way that it can motivate markets to think more long term and be more socially responsible. Theresa May is already thinking along these lines her ideas on a UK industrial strategy.

What I have described above is but a few of the ideas that Mariana Mazzucato outlines in this invigorating book. Read it and see what more of interest there is to glean.

Highly recommended.
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on 2 September 2016
Really enjoyed reading what is clearly a well researched book

It calls into question the whole free market ideology that privatisation is good for nation states and the idea that it is private business that is at the forefront of innovation and creativity

The material/research identified by the author in actual fact reveals that is is public investment i.e. tax payer money that underlies the greatest innovations/creative leaps

As a whole - the book is easy to read (even for the layman), concepts and ideas are expressed clearly and objectively (I myself underook some research in order to find fault with this book - I found next nothing to contradict the material in this book)

Overall, ver well written, easily explained and well presented book

I highly recommend it to lay people and those with an interest in socio-economic/socio-political thinking
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on 16 November 2014
This book is an absolute must! Economic decisions about the best allocation of resources must be based on the truth. To base economic decisions on half-truths and deception is to waste resources and leads to the ineffeciencies that all rational people wish to avoid. The Soviet Empire collapsed because it made economic decisions based on half-truths and deception. Western economies should not follow the Soviet example but should embrace the truth to achieve maximum efficiency and the best allocation of resources. And that is why this book is so important, because it rejects the superficial dogma put forward by neoliberal fundamentalists, that governments can never pick winners, only markets can. This very well researched book should be read by all political decision-makers, especially by neoliberals. It is a sign of robust and honest thinking to dare confront yourself with points of view that challenge your beliefs. Let the neoliberals show us that they are robust and honest thinkers by reading his book and then telling us where this book is wrong, if that is still what they truly believe after reading it.
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on 28 October 2015
Having written a masterly review of State funded innovation benefiting the private sector the Apple case study is fascinating.Integrating key technologies (GPS,Touch Screen Functionality and Voice Activation ) into their tablet and Iphone offerings Apple have been able to turn themselves into the world's largest corporation.But where is the return to the State and ultimately the taxpayer.The only people to directly benefit are the VCs and Apple shareholders.
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on 14 November 2016
A fascinating corrective to all the free market good/state bad acolytes plagueing the world.
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on 18 July 2017
This book was very accessible without watering down the argument at all, which is a very difficult thing to achieve. It is full of very interesting examples throughout, especially with often not talked about industries. It was a very hard book to put down.
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on 6 April 2018
No problems!!
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on 15 April 2018
Useful and interesting
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on 29 March 2018
Gives good overview of how publicly funded research stimulates innovation that is then commercialised via the private sector.
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on 26 September 2015
Smart and challenging established narratives
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