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A Future for the American Economy: The Social Market.

A key contradiction in America's economy today is that markets are technically "free" but are heavily regulated by government, resulting in inefficiency and inequity, says sociology professor Severyn T. Bruyn of Boston College. In A Future for the American Economy, Bruyn foretells a major shift toward self-regulation of market systems, arguing that such a trend would encourage cooperation among businesses, improve productivity, create a more-humane economy, and reduce taxes by reducing the need for government regulations.

The contending forces of market freedom and government regulation are built into the current American economic system, says Bruyn. The factors underlying this contradictory system are social rather than economic, he contends. If the social factors can be changed, markets could be made more self-regulating, thus reducing government regulations in the future. Among the changes that are already under way and likely to continue: More workers are participating in higher management; more workers are owning companies through employee pension funds and self-managed firms; and more investors are making choices based on social criteria, such as whether companies use environmentally benign production techniques.

A significant point is that competition may not be the most important goal for future businesses. Competition alone cannot make an industry self-regulating, says Bruyn. Firms need to cooperate and communicate among themselves. Expanded trade and industry associations that are self-accountable and that compete both horizontally and vertically within industries can improve cooperation and communication, he suggests.

Self-regulation is the key component in any future economic system freed from government regulation, Bruyn believes. He concludes by outlining public policies that promote a self-regulatory market, such as new legal foundations for corporate cooperation and government-industry partnership and a new federal commission on industry cooperation.

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Publication:The Futurist
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Nov 1, 1991
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