This is a review essay on Vito Tanzi’s Government versus Markets: The Changing Economic Role of the State. The bulk of this book looks backward on the relative growth of government from late in the 19th century until recent times when that growth seems to have stopped in many places. Tanzi also looks forward in speculating on possible qualitative changes in the character of state activity through substitution of regulation for taxation. Much wisdom is presented in these pages, and yet the book contains some significant conceptual shortcomings and lacunae due to its apparent embrace of the possibility of measurement without theory. All the same, the book poses significant challenges for scholarship in political economy and public economics.
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