Editorial: Putting capitalism to rights

Well, that was the kind of summer we'd all like to forget about. Lousy weather, the death throes of the euro, a new market crash and riotous looting spreading throughout England. (Although not Scotland as that statesman for our times Alex Salmond thrust himself in front of the cameras to point out.) We've never been ones to dwell on misery and disaster here, so this edition is a best foot forward special.

by Matthew Gwyther, MT editor
Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

There was always a lot riding on the London Olympics and the low mood plus the feeble economic prognosis mean the Games are even more vital to give us all a boost. We've grabbed an exclusive interview with Chris Townsend, the low-key but quietly determined bloke who is responsible for raising the cash to pay for the whole shebang. You find it hard to say 'no' to Townsend, who set out five years ago with just a copy of the Yellow Pages, which he used to track down the person in charge of sponsorship at Lloyds bank. He's subsequently persuaded sponsors to cough up more than £2bn. You'll all give him even more respect when you hear he was once the boyfriend of the brilliant Jane Leeves (Daphne from Frasier) whom he used dutifully to drop off at Teddington Studios - now our office - so she could be chased round Bushey Park by Benny Hill in her bra and knickers. Both Jane and Chris have come a long way since then.

And capitalism still has a long way to go. The free market system has taken a mighty battering over the past few years. It has become a dragon (or vampire squid) so rapacious it has started to eat its own tail. There are now people out there who claim its failings are so profound we'd be better off giving Marxism and Stalinist five-year plans another try. This is plainly madness as any Cuban or North Korean will tell you, but Simon Caulkin's thoughtful piece gives some of the leading business thinkers of recent decades a chance to say how they'd put things to rights. Look out especially for some mea culpas from Dominic Barton, the head of McKinsey - it's not often you see the smartest guys in the room in hairshirts. And MT has weighed in with its own manifesto of Eight Good Ideas to get the UK economy back into the fast lane. A new London airport, a British Bill Gates and a revamp of our tax system are some of our Modest Proposals.

And, finally, congratulations to Alastair Dryburgh whose first MT book, Everything You Know About Business is Wrong, is out now. He's been MT's resident contrarian for the past three years. There's never been a better time to question received wisdoms about how to do business and Dryburgh is a man who resides permanently outside the box. He doesn't think capitalism is dead, either.

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