April 9, 2019

Big Business

A Love Letter to an American Anti-Hero
  • Tyler Cowen

    Holbert L. Harris Chair of Economics at George Mason University
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We love to hate the 800-pound gorilla. Walmart and Amazon destroy communities and small businesses. Facebook turns us into addicts while putting our personal data at risk. From skeptical politicians like Bernie Sanders who, at a 2016 presidential campaign rally said, “If a bank is too big to fail, it is too big to exist,” to millennials, only 42 percent of whom support capitalism, belief in big business is at an all-time low. But are big companies inherently evil? If business is so bad, why does it remain so integral to the basic functioning of America? Economist and bestselling author Tyler Cowen says our biggest problem is that we don’t love business enough.

In Big Business, Cowen puts forth an impassioned defense of corporations and their essential role in a balanced, productive, and progressive society. He dismantles common misconceptions and untangles conflicting intuitions. According to a 2016 Gallup survey, only 12 percent of Americans trust big business “quite a lot,” and only 6 percent trust it “a great deal.” Yet Americans as a group are remarkably willing to trust businesses, whether in the form of buying a new phone on the day of its release or simply showing up to work in the expectation they will be paid. Cowen illuminates the crucial role businesses play in spurring innovation, rewarding talent and hard work, and creating the bounty on which we’ve all come to depend.

 

Big Business in the Media

 

"Cowen is a smart, original thinker with a knack for reframing criticisms in the context of a larger, utilitarian perspective ... that implicitly endorses the current economic system; he comes off more like a lawyer than an ideologue." –Publisher’s Weekly

 

“Cowen offers a highly accessible polemic touting the wonders of corporate America.” –Kirkus Reviews

 

“Tyler Cowen mounts a compelling defense of big business, finance, and the tech industry. Both their critics and their defenders will benefit from reading this book.” —Walter Frick, Harvard Business Review

 

"The strangest idea in Big Business — or perhaps the core idea — is that sometime in the past half-century, the faceless corporation changed into something more than a profit-maximizing bureaucracy. Tyler Cowen depicts a new economy "business" instead as a mini-subculture within civil society, with its own unique philosophy, relationships and memetic structure." —Sakunthala Panditharatne, @sknthla