The basic concept behind free-market economics was simple and
seductive: the government should not attempt to pick winners by
granting assistance to specific industries, and it should only
intervene in the market in circumstances where there has been a
substantial market failure. The only trouble with this theory - as
the global economic disaster has shown - is that it is based on
ideology, not evidence, and that it can't withstand contact with
For decades, Australia has been an enthusiastic adopter of this approach. The consequences - such as mass privatisations, tariff reforms, and flexible wages and conditions - have been lauded by the booming financial sector and the political class. Unnoticed in the hubbub, though, has been the annihilation of the manufacturing sector - which has resulted in 20 years of monthly current-account deficits and a foreign debt approaching $650 billion - and an economy dominated by footloose capital and tax-averse multinationals.
Despite propaganda to the contrary, employment in Australia is now increasingly characterised by low-paid and insecure jobs in service, logistics, and retail industries.
The Failure of Free-Market Economics explains how the triumph of a fundamentally flawed economic orthodoxy has weakened the Australian economy and now threatens our future. It also offers a range of practical reforms that the author argues are essential and urgent. This is a unique perspective from a highly qualified expert who started his career inside the free-market establishment and has ended up as a 'true unbeliever' in its ideas.
About the Author
Martin Feil was born in 1947 in Sydney. After attending university for 13 years (ten years part-time) as a scholarship boy, he got his first job in the Customs department, and then became the Industries Commission’s youngest project director at the age of twenty-six.
He was eventually responsible for 11 major industry inquiries, before striking out on his own and working as an industry-policy consultant for the next 30 years. During that time he also owned trucks, warehouses, Customs bonds-stores, and container yards, and worked for the Australian Taxation Office as its only Australian independent expert on transfer pricing and profit repatriation by multinationals. He has been chairman of the Institute of Chartered Accountants’ Customs committee, and the institute’s representative on the tax office’s transfer-pricing subcommittee.
Feil has been writing op-ed pieces for The Age for many years, accompanied by illustrations by John Spooner, warning of the dangers of free-market economics. This is his first book.
John Spooner is an Australian illustrator and political cartoonist who has regularly contributed to The Age newspaper and has also worked as a lawyer. Spooner’s credits include six Stanley awards, four Walkley awards, the 1986 Fremantle Print Prize, and the 2002 Graham Perkin Award for the Australian Journalist of the Year.
'There is something deliciously subversive about the prospect of reading a book by an insider who has become an apostate. The thrill factor is accentuated when the ideas traversed in the book are of national importance ... Written in a lucid style that explains concepts cogently, Feil documents the damage inflicted in recent decades on the national fabric by an economic and social philosophy based on unfettered market forces ... Many will find his critique of the present state of affairs unpalatable and eschew the panacea he offers. But none will doubt the importance of this book and boldness of his vision ... The ideas discussed in this book are central to an understanding of Australian politics, and their importance will intensify in the years to come.'
Frank Carrigan (Weekend Australian)
'Feil and Spooner are angry men, and rightly so. They have seen through the shibboleths of freemarket economics and the self-serving hypocrites who defend and promote it. This book is essential reading for everyone who cares about the future of Australia.'
'a fascinating look at the foibles of unfettered capitalism.'
|The Making of a Maverick||p. 13|
|Wreaking Havoc at the Tariff Board||p. 27|
|Life After the Commission||p. 45|
|My Own Seismic Shift||p. 61|
|Free-Market Australia||p. 87|
|The Contribution of Multinationals to Our Foreign Debt||p. 101|
|The Global Financial Disaster of 2007-09||p. 121|
|Fixing the Problem: domestic strategies||p. 145|
|Fixing the Problem: international strategies||p. 181|
|A User's Guide to Picking Losers the Free-Market Economics Way||p. 207|
|Measuring the Extent of the Damage||p. 245|
|A Plain-English Glossary of Relevant Terms and Names||p. 257|
|Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.|
Number Of Pages: 266
Published: 29th March 2010
Publisher: Scribe Publications
Dimensions (cm): 23.495 x 15.240 x 2.540
Weight (kg): 0.417