In Review

Mission Economy by Mariana Mazzucato

Mazzucato argues that governments could solve big problems if they approached them like the Apollo project

Mission Economy by Mariana Mazzucato

“Ever since 1969, people have asked themselves why if humans can land on the Moon, can’t they solve pressing problems here on Earth,” said John Kay in the FT. In her new book, Mariana Mazzucato suggests that they can. Many of our greatest challenges, the University College London economics professor contends – including poverty, dementia and climate change – would disappear “if only governments could apply the mission-driven methods of the Apollo project”.  

Styled as a “how to” guide for policymakers, Mission Economy is a radical call not to do away with capitalism, but to “mend” it, said Tom Kibasi in The Guardian. Unbridled free market policies, Mazzucato suggests, have produced a range of ills – and an inability to tackle big problems collectively. Her remedy is to bolster the state, enabling it to rediscover its “entrepreneurial role”. As part of her “mission economy”, governments would define “grand challenges” then set “missions to solve them in partnership with business”. Her book is a welcome “shot in the arm”. 

Mazzucato’s goals may be laudable, but her thinking is too often simplistic, said Emma Duncan in The Times. Despite what she claims, the state today is far from “minimalist”: in normal times, it accounts for nearly half of all economic activity, and even without radical remodelling is capable of leading “moonshot projects” – as it has successfully done with the Covid-19 vaccine. In general, what prevents the state from formulating “missions” isn’t its inability to do so, but the opposition such projects would encounter. For instance, the reason the UK Government hasn’t yet decarbonised the economy is because voters don’t want to pay more for power and transport. But, after all, “the people’s reluctance to do the right thing is a common problem for left-wing thinkers”.

Allen Lane 272pp £20; The Week Bookshop £15.99 

Mission Economy by Mariana Mazzucato
The Week bookshop

To order this title or any other book in print, visit theweekbookshop.co.uk, or speak to a bookseller on 020-3176 3835. Opening times: Monday to Saturday 9am-5.30pm and Sunday 10am-4pm.

Recommended

Review: Hotel Villa Marquis, Paris
Photo shows a view of the Eiffel Tower from a bathroom in Hotel Villa Marquis
The big trip

Review: Hotel Villa Marquis, Paris

Citroën C5 Aircross: what the car critics say
The UK price for the Citroën C5 Aircross 2022 starts from £26,175
Expert’s view

Citroën C5 Aircross: what the car critics say

Best water filter jugs
Woman pouring water from a tap into a water filter jug
The wish list

Best water filter jugs

Why the Oscars is apologising to a Native American activist
Sacheen Littlefeather refusing to Marlon Brando's Oscar in 1973
Speed Reads

Why the Oscars is apologising to a Native American activist

Popular articles

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 18 August 2022
10 Downing Street
Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 18 August 2022

Is World War Three on the cards?
Ukrainian soldiers patrol on the frontline in Zolote, Ukraine
In Depth

Is World War Three on the cards?

Inside Adelaide Cottage: Prince William and Kate’s new home ‘away from prying eyes’
William and Kate
In Depth

Inside Adelaide Cottage: Prince William and Kate’s new home ‘away from prying eyes’

The Week Footer Banner