"If anyone can save capitalism from the capitalists, it’s Steven Pearlstein. This lucid, brilliant book refuses to abandon capitalism to those who believe morality and justice irrelevant to an economic system."

Ezra Klein
Founder and editor-at-large, Vox



Thirty years ago, “greed is good” and “maximizing shareholder value” became the new mantras woven into the fabric of our business culture, economy, and politics. Although, around the world, free market capitalism has lifted more than a billion people from poverty, in the United States most of the benefits of economic growth have been captured by the richest 10%, along with providing justification for squeezing workers, cheating customers, avoiding taxes, and leaving communities in the lurch. As a result, Americans are losing faith that a free market economy is the best system.

In Can American Capitalism Survive?, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Steven Pearlstein chronicles our descent and challenges the theories being taught in business schools and exercised in boardrooms around the country. We’re missing a key tenet of Adam Smith’s wealth of nations: without trust and social capital, democratic capitalism cannot survive. Further, equality of incomes and opportunity need not come at the expense of economic growth.

Pearlstein lays out bold steps we can take as a country: a guaranteed minimum income paired with universal national service, tax incentives for companies to share profits with workers, ending class segregation in public education, and restoring competition to markets. He provides a path forward that will create the shared prosperity that will sustain capitalism over the long term.


In this enlightening and important book…Pearlstein offers sensible ideas for rescuing American capitalism by reconnecting it to our ideals of community, virtue, and responsibility.
— Walter Isaacson
With equal measures of passion and intelligence, Pearlstein shows that today’s capitalism has gone astray, that the social contract between businesses and society is broken and that we need to rethink its moral foundations…. [A]uthoritative and fun to read, a rare combination.
— Isabel Sawhill, Brookings Institution economist
…a smart, thoughtful, and practical book about what’s wrong with American capitalism and how to fix it. In normal times, I’d strongly recommend. In these perilous times, it’s a must read.
— Robert Reich, author of The Common Good