"Capitalism depends on people keeping their promises to one another, often over very long periods of time."
William Davies, British academic and writer
Source: New Statesman (London) (November 16, 2011)
"A free market was never meant to be a free licence to take whatever you can get, however you can get it."
Barack Obama (1961–), US president
On the need for radical reform of the US financial industry
Source: Speech (April 22, 2010)
"Since the crisis, developing countries have lost interest in the old Washington consensus that promoted democracy and liberal economics … The West must come up with a new model of capitalism that’s consistent with our political values. Either we reinvent ourselves or we will lose."
Anonymous US diplomat referring to the financial crisis of 2008–09
Source: Quoted in The Times (London) (Anatole Kaletsky, February 4, 2010)
"The free market doesn't exist. Every market has some rules and boundaries that restrict freedom of choice. A market looks free only because we so unconditionally accept its underlying restrictions that we fail to see them."
Ha-Joon Chang (1963–), South Korean economist and author
Source: 23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism (2010)
"There are different ways to organise capitalism. Free-market capitalism is only one of them—and not a very good one at that."
Ha-Joon Chang (1963–), South Korean economist and author
Source: 23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism (2010)
"Enterprise is a nightmare of red ink, final demands and columns that don’t add up … a biblical saga of missed deadlines, faulty documents, defective quality control and collapsing share prices."
Simon Carr, British journalist
Source: Independent (London) (June 15, 2009)
"If you bound the arms and legs of gold-medal swimmer Michael Phelps, weighed him down with chains, threw him in a pool and he sank, you wouldn’t call it a “failure of swimming.” So, when markets have been weighted down by inept and excessive regulation, why call this a “failure of capitalism”?"
Peter Boettke (1960–), US economist
On the financial crisis of 2008–09.
Source: The Times (London) (March 9, 2009)
"Capitalism is a forest fire that is never extinguished, only contained."
Bryan Appleyard (1951–), British journalist
Source: Sunday Times (London) (January 4, 2009)
"This administration made decisions that allowed the free market to operate as a barroom brawl instead of a prize fight."
L. William Seidman (1921–2009), US economist and financial commentator
On the Bush administration in the run-up to the financial crisis of 2008.
Source: Quoted in the New York Times (December 20, 2008)
"The frantic scrambling that is going on in Washington marks the passing of only one type of capitalism—the peculiar and highly unstable variety that has existed in America over the last 20 years … While the impact of the collapse will be felt everywhere, the market economies that resisted American-style deregulation will best weather the storm. Britain, which has turned itself into a gigantic hedge fund, but of a kind that lacks the ability to profit from a downturn, is likely to be especially badly hit."
John Gray (1948–), British academic and writer
Source: Observer (London) (September 28, 2008)
"After a recent trip to New York one French journalist remarked that leafing through a copy of Forbes or Fortune is like reading the operating manual of a strangely sanctimonious pirate ship."
Adam Gopnik (1956–), US writer
Source: Paris to the Moon (2001)
"The chief business of the American people is business."
Calvin Coolidge (1872–1933), US president
Source: Quoted in the New York Times (2000)
"It is just as important that business keep out of government as that government keep out of business."
Herbert Hoover (1874–1964), US president
Source: Quoted in the East Valley Tribune (2000)
"Capitalism, as practiced, is a financially profitable, non-sustainable aberration in human development."
Paul Hawken (1946–), US entrepreneur and business author
Source: Natural Capitalism (cowritten with Amory B. Lovins and L. Hunter Lovins, 1999)
"The great challenge of the twentieth century … is to create a new financial architecture in which private decisions produce a less degenerate capitalism."
Will Hutton (1950–), British author and newspaper editor
Source: The State We're In (1995)
"Our belief in salvation through the market is very much in the Utopian tradition. The economists and managers are the servants of God. Like the medieval scholastics, their only job is to uncover the divine plan. They could never create or stop it. At most they might aspire to small alterations."
John Ralston Saul (1947–), Canadian writer
Source: The Unconscious Civilization (1995)
"Capitalism works better than any of us can conceive. It is also the only truly moral system of exchange. It encourages individuals to devote their energies … to the satisfaction of others' wants and needs."
Steve Forbes (1947–), US publishing executive
Source: “Three Cheers for Capitalism,” Imprimis (September 1993)
"To speak of limits to growth under a capitalistic market economy is as meaningless as to speak of limits of warfare under a warrior society."
Murray Bookchin (1921–2006), US writer and environmentalist
Source: Remaking Society (1990)
"Capitalism without bankruptcy is like Christianity without hell."
Frank Borman (1928–), US astronaut and business executive
Source: Remark (April 21, 1986)
"What breaks capitalism, all that will ever break capitalism, is capitalists."
Raymond Williams (1921–1988), British academic, critic, and novelist
Source: Loyalties (1985)
"The prevailing theory of capitalism suffers from one central and disabling flaw, a profound distrust and incomprehension of capitalism."
George Gilder (1939–), US economist
Source: The Spirit of Enterprise (1984)
"Mr Heath talks about the unacceptable face of capitalism, but intrinsically it doesn't have an unacceptable face."
Arnold, Lord Weinstock (1924–2002), British managing director of General Electric Company
Referring to prime minister Edward Heath's description of Lonrho as the unacceptable face of capitalism.
Source: Quoted in the Daily Telegraph (London) (June 17, 1974)
"The system of private property is the most important guarantee of freedom, not only for those who own property, but scarcely less for those who do not."
Friedrich August von Hayek (1899–1992), Austro-Hungarian-born British economist
Source: The Road to Serfdom (1944), ch. 8
"Private property is a necessary institution, at least in a fallen world; men work more and dispute less when goods are private than when they are in common."
Richard Tawney (1880–1962), British economic historian and social critic
Source: Religion and the Rise of Capitalism (1926), ch. 1, sect. 1
"Capitalism, wisely managed, can probably be made more efficient for attaining economic ends than any alternative system yet in sight."
John Maynard Keynes (1883–1946), British economist
Source: The End of Laissez-Faire (1926)
"We accept and welcome, therefore, as conditions to which we must accommodate ourselves, great inequality of environment, the concentration of business, industrial and commercial, in the hands of a few, and the law of competition between these, as being not only beneficial, but essential for the future progress of the race."
Andrew Carnegie (1835–1919), US industrialist and philanthropist
Source: “Wealth,” North American Review (June 1889)
"Capital must be propelled by self-interest; it cannot be enticed by benevolence."
Walter Bagehot (1826–1877), British economist and journalist
Source: Economic Studies (1880)
"The man who accepts the laissez-faire doctrine would allow his garden to grow wild so that roses might fight it out with the weeds and the fittest might survive."
John Ruskin (1819–1900), British art critic and writer
Back to top