Giacomo Corneo, Bessere Welt. Berlin, Germany:
Goldegg Verlag, 2014. 368 Pages. 24,90 € (hardcover)
Published online: 2 September 2014
Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014
In Better World, the author presents a broad overview of real and purely conceptual
alternatives to the contemporary varieties of capitalism. They range from the platonic
Guardian state to Morus’ Utopia and Kropotkin’s Anarchy. The second half of the book
is dedicated to various forms of economic planning. It culminates in a stand-off
between a model based on John Roemer’s fifth generation market socialism (coupon
stock market) (Roemer and Bardhan 1994; also see Stauber 1977) and the Swedish
While the scope of the book is impressive and this reviewer considers the
endeavor of conversing with intelligent lay-people of a left-leaning persuasion a worthy
one, the author offers both too much and too little.
The first 150 pages are a somewhat tedious read and can be skipped safely (too
much). The descriptions of the state philosophers or freely accessible public ware-
houses are designed to prepare an audience with little background in economics for the
discussion of more pressing issues of modern inequality and political power. Basic
economic insights on political interest groups, incentives, and the prisoner’sdilemma
are sprinkled in. In this regard, this long winded introduction might serve as an
undergrad text for a first year seminar.
Unfortunately, these superficial excursions into political philosophy do not only
distract from the main conversation, but take up scarce space (and reader’s attention!)
that could have been used for a more detailed treatment of the main topics (too little),
i.e. the question of how society could be less unequal, how the political power of a
wealthy elite could be restricted, and how the ideal of meaningful work can best be
achieved (p. 216).
In chapter six, the author finally starts to present a socialist master plan of the Lange-
Arrow-Hurwicz variety which includes shadow prices, supply curves based on com-
pany reports and an iterative process of price adjustment, which is well-known to the
readers of this journal. Corneo crisply identifies the economic weaknesses of such a
system (complexity, manipulation and a lack of innovation).
Rev Austrian Econ (2016) 29:99–102
Roemer (2014) appears to question the feasibility of his own idea of stock market based socialism.
P. Ru nst ( *)
Institute for Small Business Economics (ifh), University of Göttingen, Heinrich-Düker-Weg 6,
37073 Göttingen, Germany