Gretchen Morgenson thinks so. The Pulitzer Prize–winning New York Times journalist has just edited The Capitalist’s Bible: The Essential Guide to Free Markets — and Why They Matter to You
. Even though professors and academics wrote the bulk of this detailed treatise on our economic system, which is derived from an earlier reference book called the Encyclopedia of Capitalism
, the book won’t teach you how to invest. But it does offer crucial insight for any investor who’s looking for a deeper understanding of how our financial markets work.
Morgenson throws us right into the history part — after the opening chapter, Capitalism 101 — with a chapter called Capitalist Chronology. It covers, as she says in the introduction, everything from “the first days of mercantilism and the first investment craze (tulip mania, of all things) to the panics of the 19th century to the first decade of the 21st century and our current situation.” Oh, stop your pre-emptive yawning, already — this really is a page-turner.
You’ll also find chapters called People Every Capitalist Should Know (David Hume! Thorstein Veblen!), Capitalism Around the World, Capitalist Successes and — even more fascinating to read, I found — Disasters in Capitalism. Morgenson and the writers deftly explain how the thread of capitalism weaves through so much of our lives as they expose both its dark side and many successes. The editor even tells, as an example of the enduring fluidity of free enterprise, how current events dictated prepublication changes when AIG and Citigroup were removed from the successes category after suffering their rapid reversals of fortune. The Capitalist’s Bible
is well-suited for individual investors hoping to glean anything that might prove beneficial to their portfolios, but it’s also perfect for students or devotees of economics. Yes, it does read a little like a textbook at times, but learning more about capitalism’s effect on our everyday life and the details of its global reach makes it worth any extra effort. The Capitalist’s Bible’s
two appendixes — Capitalist Glossary and Capitalist Resources, an annotated list of books, websites and other references — are also superb sources for readers itching to continue their education on this wide-ranging subject.
Morgenson declares capitalism to be “a living thing, an adapting thing — and adaptability is the capitalist’s greatest tool.” The Capitalist’s Bible
is an admirable competitor for that title of greatest tool, at least for any capitalist hoping to learn more about such an essential and timely topic as this great economic system of ours.
Angele McQuade is the author of two books, including Investment Clubs for Dummies
. You can find her online at angelemcquade.com