The world is a largely capitalistic economy - one that even communist China is embracing. But with a worldwide financial crisis, towering government debt and the public outrage of the 99 per cent, perhaps the free market is not free enough.

The world's largest economy, the US, has a $15.2tn debt. According to Tea Partiers, that is because government spending and central bank meddling has distorted the market. Occupy campaigners, however, argue that capitalism brings excessive wealth to the few.

To even the most fiscally unlearned, the disparity is obvious.

The Economic Policy Institute has found that 1 per cent of US households control 42.7 per cent of the country's assets.

And with wealth, comes influence - 24.3 per cent of all political donations in the 2010 election cycle were made by 0.01 per cent of Americans.

Sadly, the developing world gets left behind as well. According to the United Nations Children's Fund, the richest 20 per cent of the world’s population control 82.8 per cent of its income, while the poorest 20 per cent control just 1 per cent.

Capitalism is often celebrated as the panacea for the world's financial problems but in this episode, Counting the Cost looks at how the system is open to abuse, corruption and could benefit from taking a page out of the experiences of emerging economies.

Kamahl Santamaria speaks to Mark Weisbrot from the Centre for Economic and Policy Research; Bryan Caplan, an adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute in Fairfax; and Loretta Napoleoni, the author of Maonimcs: Why Chinese Communists Make Better Capitalists Than We Do.


Counting the Cost can be seen each week at the following times GMT: Friday: 2230; Saturday: 0930; Sunday: 0330; Monday: 1630.

Click here for more on Counting the Cost.

Source: Al Jazeera