When the Italian-born economist Luigi Zingales first came to the United States to study economics in the 1980s, he embraced the American Dream: the belief that what brings you success is hard work, not luck or who you know. Our unique history and style of capitalism have made even our poor rich, by global standards.
But the economic events of the past decade, combined with the actions of politicians from both major political parties, have undermined capitalism's reputation. Now, living in America's heartland and teaching at one of the nation’s foremost business schools, Zingales warns in his acclaimed book, A Capitalism for the People, that the U.S. economy risks deteriorating into a crony-capitalist system—pro-business rather than pro-market, and run by corrupt politicians who are more concerned with lining the pockets of the connected elite than with improving opportunity for the people. If this perverted arrangement persists, can true capitalism ever gain the popular support it needs to survive?