Introduction: The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly

Dennis C. Mueller

in The Oxford Handbook of Capitalism

Published in print April 2012 | ISBN: 9780195391176
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Introduction: The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly

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  • Economics
  • Economic Development and Growth
  • Industry Studies



This introductory article briefly describes the essentials of capitalism. It then proceeds to take up its good, bad, and ugly characteristics. Capitalism is at its best when individual self-interest is channeled into the production of goods and services and innovative activity. To undertake the huge risks that surround the innovation process, entrepreneurs must possess great optimism about their ability to make decisions. Although many entrepreneurs fail, the innovations generated by the few who succeed lead to the great advances in wealth associated with the developed, capitalist countries of the world. The seamy side of capitalism is largely the reverse of its attractive side. The desire to create empires, the pursuit of great wealth, and the optimism needed to fuel entrepreneurship and innovation, when channeled into rent seeking, growth through acquisitions, and asset speculation, can undermine the efficiency of a capitalist system.

Keywords: capitalism; entrepreneurship; innovation; wealth; capitalist system

Article.  6421 words. 

Subjects: Economics ; Economic Development and Growth ; Industry Studies

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