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What Went Wrong with Capitalism

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About The Book

A century of expanding government has distorted financial markets, stoked massive inequality, and soaked America in debt.

Capitalism didn’t fail, it was ruined...

What went wrong with capitalism? Ruchir Sharma’s account is not like any you will have heard before. He says progressives are right, in part, when they mock modern capitalism as “socialism for the rich.” For a century, governments have expanded in just about every measurable dimension, from spending to regulation and the scale of financial rescues when the economy wobbles. The result is expensive state guarantees for everyone—bailouts for the rich, entitlements for the middle class, welfare for the poor.

Taking you back to the 19th century, Sharma shows how completely the reflexes of government have changed: from hands-off to hands-on, from doing too little to help anyone in hard times to today trying to prevent anyone suffering any economic pain, ever. Trading sins of omission and indifference for excesses of spending and meddling, governments from the United States to Europe and Japan have pumped so much money into their economies that financial markets can no longer invest all that capital efficiently.

Inadvertently, they have fueled the rise of monopolies, “zombie” firms, and billionaires. They have made capitalism less fair and less efficient, which is slowing economic growth and fueling popular anger. The first step to a cure is a correct diagnose of the problem. Capitalism has been badly distorted by constant government intervention and the relentless spread of a bailout culture. Building an even bigger state will only double down on what ruined capitalism in the first place.

About The Author

Matt Greenslade

Ruchir Sharma is chairman of Rockefeller International and founder and chief investment officer of Breakout Capital, an investment firm focused on emerging markets. He moved to Rockefeller in 2022 after a twenty-five-year career at Morgan Stanley, where he was head of emerging markets and chief global strategist. Based in New York, he is a contributing editor at the Financial Times and a contributing opinion writer at The New York Times. His work has also appeared in The Wall Street JournalForeign AffairsThe AtlanticThe Guardian, and Foreign Policy. He is the author of four books, the international bestseller Breakout Nations, the New York Times bestseller The Rise and Fall of NationsDemocracy on the Road, and The 10 Rules of Successful Nations.

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Raves and Reviews

“Eye opening…a convincing case,” Columnist Brett Stephens of the New York Times: “Why the broad dissatisfaction with an economic system that is supposed to offer unsurpassed prosperity? Ruchir Sharma has an answer that boils down to two words: easy money. In an eye-opening new book, “What Went Wrong With Capitalism,” he makes a convincing case.”

“Invigorating,” Columnist George F. Will of the Washington Post: “A safety net once meant to catch the poor at the precipice of hunger was extended under the financial markets’ … So argues Ruchir Sharma in his invigorating ‘What Went Wrong With Capitalism’.”

“Absolutely fascinating," CNN host and commentator Fareed Zakaria: “A terrific book... It’s an absolutely fascinating read. I think you will see the economy differently.”

“A future Nobel laureate after this, I think?” CNBC “Squawk Box” host Joe Kieran to Sharma on June 11, 2024: “You [don’t just] preach to the choir, you want to bring in people who hate capitalism and show them what the real problem is… there’s something for everyone in this. This is not just government’s fault, this is big corporations that want bailouts…”

“Superbly written and cogently argued,” critic Barton Swaim in the Wall Street Journal: “Fear of risk has, over the past half-century, robbed American capitalism of its capacity for robust growth… [argues] Ruchir Sharma’s superbly written and cogently argued ‘What Went Wrong with Capitalism’.”

"Brilliant," columnist Matthew Lynn of the Daily Telegraph, London: "As Ruchir Sharma argues in his brilliant new book, What Went Wrong with Capitalism: "Because the EU lacks the power to tax and spend directly... it has turned itself into a pure regulatory state."

“This book will reshape how you think about the world. It is bound to provoke people on both the left and the right.”
Larry Summers, former Secretary of the Treasury

“Ruchir Sharma stands apart because he is not ideologically driven. This fresh and accessible analysis of the issues confronting capitalism should be read by all sides.”
Robert Rubin, former Secretary of the Treasury and chairman of Citigroup

“At a moment at which democracy and free markets are under intense challenge all over the world, we are lucky that the brilliant and incomparable Ruchir Sharma has brought us a characteristically original and provocative book that tells us how to understand the ways that capitalism is falling badly short. Everyone should read, absorb and debate Sharma’s wise arguments.”
—Michael Beschloss, historian and author of the New York Times’s bestsellers Presidents of War and Presidential Courage

“In his timely and consequential book, Ruchir Sharma chronicles the government bailouts, interventions, and machinations that have brought America to this hinge point in history. His message to policymakers: Try capitalism, the real kind.”
Kevin Warsh, former member of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors

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