I have not read this book, "The Clash of Economic Ideas". Yet, it sounds as if it would be worth anyone's time (if only I had the time!) To my eyes, that the clash of "the marketplace" versus economic management by the government is one of the great issues of our time.
The ongoing clash of economic ideas reflects not only deep-seated philosophical differences about the value of individual liberty but also theoretical differences about the relative merits of free markets and government for steering the economy. Are competitive markets, guided by impersonal forces of profit and loss, better than government command-and-control for directing investment toward the greatest prosperity? The key insight of economics as a discipline—its greatest contribution to understanding the social world and to avoiding harmful policies—is that, under the right conditions (property rights, rule of law, free entry), an economic order arises without central design that effectively serves the ends of its participants. In Adam Smith’s analysis and famous phrase, investors are “led by an invisible hand” that aligns their private pursuit of profits with (what is no part of their intention) the greatest contribution to the economy’s overall prosperity. This Smithian idea has ever since been reaffirmed and elaborated by a long line of economists. Though challenged by others, it has been repeatedly borne out by the experiences of the last hundred years.
I must admit it still mystifies me why so many liberals believe it is superior to leave our economy and our destiny to the choice of a few in power, rather than to we, the people. We, the people, assuredly do not always get it right. Still - when we err, we definitely can correct more rapidly than by having the bureaucratic boot of government demanding where and how we go!