Reinventing the Bazaar: The Natural History of Markets

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9780393050219: Reinventing the Bazaar: The Natural History of Markets

From the wild swings of the stock market to the online auctions of eBay to the unexpected twists of the world's post-Communist economies, markets have suddenly become quite visible. It is now questioned what makes these institutions work, how important they are and how we can improve them. This text takes the reader on a tour of a world we once took for granted, offering examples ranging from a camel trading fair in India to the 20 million dollar per day Aalsmeer flower market in the Netherlands to the global trade in AIDS drugs. Eschewing ideology, this text aims to show that markets are neither magical nor immoral. Rather, they are powerful if imperfect tools, the best we've found for improving our living standards.

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John McMillan's Reinventing the Bazaar is an extremely accessible description of markets large and small, as well as an explanation of their underlying mechanisms. An "absolutely free market," he says, is a "free-for-all brawl," while a "real market" is an "ordered brawl." Sprinkling his analysis with hundreds of anecdotes and examples--prison camps, eBay, the American experiment with alcohol prohibition, the Tokyo fish market, and traditional Ghanaian bazaars--and pertinent quotes from the likes of Chekhov, Twain, and Steinbeck, McMillan animates his subject. Why do banks build showcase headquarters? Which "frictions" brake, and which spur, various markets? Is the "invisible hand" attached to a clothed arm? Why are both pro- and antimarket absolutists, in McMillan's view, the economics equivalent of "flat-earthers"? Is there such an animal as a "perfect" market? Reinventing the Bazaar answers these questions, and many more, in an eminently wise, entertaining, and instructive way. --H. O'Billovich

About the Author:

John McMillan is the Jonathan B. Lovelace Professor of Economics at Stanford University's Graduate School of Business.

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