THE IDEA of a Europe hostile to entrepreneurs would once have seemed laughable. At its 17th-century peak the Dutch East India Company’s appetite for capital to fuel its growth was so voracious that it demanded the invention of the public stockmarket. Investors then did not balk at its violent treatment of native peoples. The turn of the 20th century saw the founding of giants like L’Oréal, today’s highest-earning beauty empire, and Denmark’s AP Moller Maersk, the largest container-shipping line. Most of Germany’s Mittelstand firms, employers of more than half of all the country’s workers, were born at the same time.
That a continent shattered by two world wars produced far
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