Source of book image: online version of the WSJ review quoted and cited below.
(p. A11) Messrs. Hubbard and Kane argue, as do others, that certain policies and core principles are the key: property rights, flexible work rules, open markets. For the authors, such matters explain economic growth entirely.
To those who would cite the primacy of technological breakthroughs, Messrs. Hubbard and Kane assert that inventions only spark growth if there are systems in place (such as intellectual-property rights) that enable inventions to flourish and their value to spread. “The wheel and the windmill were invented many times,” they write, “then forgotten, until finally one society had the institutional framework to implement them widely and pass them on permanently.” In short, “institutions explain innovation.”
For the full review, see:
Matthew Rees. “BOOKSHELF; How the Mighty Fall; The Roman empire eventually lost its economic vitality thanks to price controls, heavy taxes and state-sponsored debt relief..” The Wall Street Journal (Fri., June 21, 2013): A11.
(Note: the online version of the review has the date June 20, 2013.)
The book under review is:
Hubbard, Glenn, and Tim Kane. Balance: The Economics of Great Powers from Ancient Rome to Modern America. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2013.