In this volume, Nobel Laureate James Meade discusses a set of radical changes in economic institutions and policies designed to show an efficient, socially acceptable third alternative between Keynesian inflation and monetarist unemployment, and between the inefficiencies of socialist centralism and the ravages of unrestrained capitalist competition. According to Meade, these changes should aim at allowing freedom of individual choice (liberty), producing a high standard of living (efficiency) and avoiding excessive divergences between riches and poverty (equality).
But there are inevitably clashes between these objectives. For example, free competition may promote liberty and efficiency but will offer high rewards to the owners of scarce resources and low rewards to those who command little earning power, resulting in the denial of equality. The author suggests a set of reforms which could mitigate the effects of such clashes. Such a review of institutions is highly relevant in the present age of social uncertainties. For example, on what lines should the post-communist economies of Eastern Europe be rebuilt? Can we avoid the stark choice between the inflation of Keynesianism and the unemployment of monetarism? Can the ravages of free capitalist competition be avoided without the inefficiencies of centralized economic planning?
Including an extensively revised version of Meade's well- known tract, Agothopia: The Economics of Partnership, Liberty, Equality, and Efficiency will be of interest to both economists and political scientists.