Financial Times on Philanthrocapitalism

Philanthrocapitalism was reviewed by John Gapper in the Financial Times today, who found it "thoroughly researched and enjoyable".

John agrees that the new philanthropists have the potential to achieve their ambition of revolutionising philanthropy: "Institutions such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation", he writes "achieve big things not only because they are rich but because Mr Gates himself is at the helm, obsessing about the breeding patterns of the female mosquito and how to eliminate malaria. He has the talent, ambition and money to make a serious run at it."

John does, however, question "whether the gilded age of the early 21st century was no more than a debt-induced hallucination" and suggests that, rather than philanthrocapitalism, "the end of capitalism feels more like it." But he goes on to say that "the boom in the super-rich is not going away", nor the need for private donors to fund projects that government cannot.

We would go even further – although there may have been casualties from the financial crisis among the super-rich on Wall Street (including Dick Fuld, who has been in the media recently over his substantial salary for running the now-collapsed Lehman Brothers), many of the super-rich, like Warren Buffett with his $5 billion investment in Goldman Sachs, have a buying opportunity to make them considerably richer.

Buffett has already committed to give his entire fortune away. Others need to follow. Governments were already over-stretched before the crisis and the cost of rescuing the financial system is going to put a further squeeze on discretionary expenditure. Foreign aid, in particular, looks likely to be the first cut, going by Joe Biden’s comments in last week’s VP debate. Philanthropy needs to fill the gap if ambitious targets, like ending malaria by 2015, are to be met.

Furthermore, with capitalism under attack at the moment, now is an ideal time for the rich to show that they do give back to society.