HONG KONG — The global economic turmoil has sparked international debate over whether we are witnessing the death throes of capitalism or signs that a “new capitalism” needs to be devised. French commentators have gloated over the end of the Anglo-Saxon way of doing business, citing the need for the state to play a bigger guiding role.

The worrying thing about the state’s guiding hand is that too often politicians, and sometimes bureaucrats, have made spectacularly poor choices. The British motor industry, and the Anglo-French accord on supersonic airliners, offer excellent examples of how easy it is to throw pots of money at hopeless causes.

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