Reinventing the Bazaar: A Natural History of Markets

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9780393323719: Reinventing the Bazaar: A Natural History of Markets

Clear, insightful, and nondogmatic, this book gives us a new appreciation for one of our most ubiquitous institutions.

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. We now have occasion to ask, "What makes these institutions work? How important are they? How can we improve them?"

Taking us on a lively tour of a world we once took for granted, John McMillan offers examples ranging from a camel trading fair in India to the $20 million per day Aalsmeer flower market in the Netherlands to the global trade in AIDS drugs. Eschewing ideology, he shows us that markets are neither magical nor immoral. Rather, they are powerful if imperfect tools, the best we've found for improving our living standards.

A New York Times Notable Book.

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Review:

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 (1951―2007) was the Jonathan B. Lovelace Professor of Economics at Stanford University's Graduate School of Business.

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