How to (Really) End This Depression: a Response to Paul Krugman

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

It Takes Government to Create Markets: Alex Marshall’s The Surprising Design of Market Economies

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

It Takes Government to Create Markets: Alex Marshall’s The Surprising Design of Market Economies

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

James Galbraith Tells Us What Everyone Needs to Know About Inequality

Inequality has surged in the U.S. over the last forty years; many observers now blame the deregulation and tax cuts for the rich starting with the presidency of Ronald Reagan in 1980. In his new short book, Inequality: What Everyone Needs to Know, James Galbraith explains how this happened through the change in U.S. industrial structure. He offers a surprising recommendation. . . . → Read More: James Galbraith Tells Us What Everyone Needs to Know About Inequality

John Perkins’ New Confessions of an Economic Hit Man

My father retired from the U.S. Foreign Service in 1970, shortly before John Perkins began his career as an economic consultant— “economic hit man”— with the engineering firm, MAIN. Perkins traveled to Indonesia, Panama, Colombia, Iran, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere. His job was to convince leaders to undertake wildly overambitious infrastructure projects that would enrich them and big U.S. engineering firms like Bechtel. In most cases, the projects would fail and leave nations beholden to US banks or the World Bank. Saudi Arabia was a special case; the flood of dollars from the new OPEC cartel would purchase both sophisticated infrastructure like desalinization plants and U.S. military protection against insurgents. Leaders who refused to cooperate with such plans would be picked off by CIA-supported “jackals”. Perkins originally published his story in his 2005 bestseller; he now updates the story with examples from developed countries, such as projects that sucker local governments into building public-private toll roads. Looking back, I realize that my dad knew a lot more about such activities than he let on… . . . → Read More: John Perkins’ New Confessions of an Economic Hit Man

Part II Beauty, Cooperation, and the Hadza Hunter-Gatherers

In The Evolution of Beauty, Yale ornithologist Richard Prum focuses on how female choice affects natural selection. Among the brightly-colored neotropical manakins, the females do all the work of raising chicks, while the males contribute only sperm. That gives the females the pick of the males. The males respond by dancing and singing on a common ground called a lek. Some males even dance in cooperative groups; the females mate with the alpha male of the group they pick. Prum says this cooperativeness happens because that’s what females prefer. Among the hunter-gatherer Hadza tribe in Tanzania, as reported by Nicholas Blurton-Jones in Demography and Evolutionary Ecology of Hadza Hunter-Gatherers (2016), the women produce 90% of the food. Hadza men and women are extremely cooperative and non-violent. Could this be due to female choice? . . . → Read More: Part II Beauty, Cooperation, and the Hadza Hunter-Gatherers

Pearidge, Trauma ; 99 to 1; and The Self-Made Myth

My brother and I turn, and there is my husband Tom, crumpled in the gutter, a pool of blood spreading under his head. Call 911! In five minutes, there are – count them – three police cars, two fire engines, and a passing Good Samaritan doctor. . . . → Read More: Pearidge, Trauma ; 99 to 1; and The Self-Made Myth

Putting Land and Power Back into Economics

Rethinking the Economics of Land and Housing, by three British economists, puts land and power back into economics, by recognizing–as did the classical economists–that ownership natural resources conveys wealth and political power. It also provides an enlightening history of British postwar housing policy, which has gone from building inexpensive rental housing for the working class, to pumping up property values for the ownership class. . . . → Read More: Putting Land and Power Back into Economics

Review: A Brief History of Doom by Richard Vague

A Brief History of Doom: Two Hundred Years of Financial Crises is the most important economics publication to come along in years. The author, Richard Vague, a retired banker, documents how a necessary and sufficient explanation for a boom and bust cycle is an episode over several years of excessive private sector lending, typically triggered by an exciting innovation. . . . → Read More: Review: A Brief History of Doom by Richard Vague

School Choice: A Lesson from New Zealand

I have long supported school choice–confined to public schools. My son attended primary and middle school in District Three on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. District schools are subdivided into small units, each with its own program and principal, competing to attract students from all of Manhattan. At IS 44 on west 77th Street, . . . → Read More: School Choice: A Lesson from New Zealand