Despite its worthy motives, social market philosophy provides neither a useful analytical framework for understanding modern capitalism, nor the policy tools to address our present economic and social predicament. The concept of ‘market failure’, with its underlying assumption of market equilibrium, does not capture the systemically adverse outcomes of collective market forces. A more sophisticated understanding of capitalist economies, and the societies in which they exist, would recognise that the market economy is a dynamic but not self-regulating system. It is embedded in, and impacts on, four other economies – of the natural environment, of family and care, of voluntary association, and of the public sector – which operate under different motivations and allocative principles. The role of government is central, to balance the values created by different kinds of institutions and to constrain the dynamic impacts of market forces. A number of policy conclusions are offered arising from this framework.