Yale Prof. Robert Shiller, author of Irrational Exuberance (2000; 2005), predicted the 2008 financial collapse years before it happened. Last year, Shiller partnered with UC Berkeley Prof. George Akerlof to produce Animal Spirits–elaborating on the psychology that inspires “irrational exuberance” and other mass human behavior that affects the economy. . . . → Read More: Animal Spirits, by Akerlof and Shiller
As Kevin Phillips recorded in Wealth and Democracy (2002), war has created the opportunity for many great fortunes. Thus the frenzied looting–and disregard for the lives of both US soldiers and corporate employees–displayed in Robert Greenwald’s new film Iraq for Sale: The War Profiteers. One small example: drivers shuttle empty mail trucks up and down . . . → Read More: Benefits of Military Spending
This is the scariest book I’ve read since The Day of the Triffids. Back in the ‘70’s, US business monopolization seemed bad, but not getting worse. Spinoffs and breakups balanced mergers. Since then, as documented in Cornered by financial journalist Barry Lynn, global monopolization has rapidly returned us to a new age of robber barons. . . . → Read More: Cornered: The New Monopoly Capitalism and the Economics of Destruction, by Barry C. Lynn
Malcolm Gladwell’s bestseller, David and Goliath, asks how and why the weak win far more often than we expect. What characteristics of the weak can sometimes make them strong? What characteristics of the powerful can often make them vulnerable? For a long-time inequality buff like me, Gladwell provides some new insights. . . . → Read More: David and Goliath, or Why the One Percent Has to Rig the System
David Warsh’s engaging new book Knowledge and the Wealth of Nations tells two stories. One story, beginning with Adam Smith, covers the history of thought about the relationship of economic growth and economies of scale. Warsh finds in Smith a contradiction between the huge technical economies of the pin factory, which should create monopolies, and . . . → Read More: Economan Captures the Knowledge Economy: David Warsh on Knowledge and the Wealth of Nations
Remy Welling, an IRS tax auditor, had a problem. In December 2002, her boss asked her to sign off on an audit that hadn’t yet begun, essentially giving a company an advance free pass. She refused, and began investigating. Pretty soon, she discovered what the company was up to: changing the issue date of options . . . → Read More: Free Lunch: How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense (and Stick You With the Bill) by David Cay Johnston
David Ellerman’s new book, Helping People Help Themselves: From the World Bank to an Alternative Philosophy of Development Assistance, (forward by Albert O. Hirschman) is finally out in affordable paperback. Yay!
“The best kind of help to others, whenever possible, is indirect, and consists in such modifications of the conditions of life, of the general . . . → Read More: Helping People Help Themselves, by David Ellerman
Two years ago, an urgent call from my father: My mother, then 84, was ill. Gray skin, sunken eyes, confused. At the hospital, her blood tests showed abnormally high levels of calcium. She had calcium poisoning. Calcium poisoning? Six weeks prior, it turned out, the family doctor had instructed her to start taking calcium tablets . . . → Read More: How Doctors Think, by Jerome Groopman M.D.
In the May 24 New York Review of Books, Paul Krugman writes, “The truth is that recovery would be almost ridiculously easy to achieve; all we need is to reverse the austerity policies of the past couple of years and temporarily boost spending.” He continues, “… The strong measures that would all go a long . . . → Read More: How to (Really) End This Depression: a Response to Paul Krugman
Conventional economics wittingly or unwittingly provides cover for the One Percent, by professing that “the market” operates benevolently on its own. Alex Marshall gives us an entertaining, thoughtful, and well-written antidote to this dangerous abstraction. . . . → Read More: It Takes Government to Create Markets: Alex Marshall’s The Surprising Design of Market Economies