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The Cost of Inequality [Paperback]

Stewart Lansley
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
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Book Description

23 Feb 2012
What failed the 1980s mantra that inequality would lead to robust economies? Why does the modern economy consist of two tracks: a fast one for the super-rich and a stalled one for everyone else? What is the cost of a consumer economy without purchasing power? This ground-breaking book, based on years of research, shows that greater equality will lead us out of permanent recession.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 280 pages
  • Publisher: Gibson Square Books Ltd; Paperback edition (23 Feb 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1908096292
  • ISBN-13: 978-1908096296
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 62,972 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'A great book - read it!' Richard Wilkinson, co-author of The Spirit Level --1

'Compelling... urgent.' --Times Higher Education Supplement

'Seminal.' Neal Lawson, --Guardian Comment

About the Author

Stewart Lansley is a research fellow at the University of Bristol. He is the author of Poor Britain (with Joanna Mack), Rich Britain and a biography of Philip Green. He has written on wealth and poverty for academic and specialist journals as well as the Guardian, Independent and Sunday Times, and has held previous academic posts at the Universities of Reading and Brunel. He lives in London.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive and comprehensible 25 Jun 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
We have all heard the arguments about how fair/unfair the tax system is. Lansley doesn't go there. Wisely, in my opinion, because most of us have already got fixed ideas about that.

The strength of his book is that it takes a new angle, namely, that inequality stops a free enterprise system from working properly. His target is workability, not morality. He then shows that it isn't new. The same arguments were being made years ago, and it was only when they were heeded that the recovery from previous great depressions began. Lansley doesn't rely on rhetoric, however: he presents plenty of cogently-argued evidence that the same conditions which produced the Great Depression of the 1930s were also visible in the 2000s. What's more, many people saw it and warned what was to come. The politicians put their hands over their ears and refused to listen, like an over-excited child who's been told it's bedtime.

The fact is that if too much wealth is held by the super-rich, they don't do anything productive with it. No one can spend that much on consumables, so they spend it on pushing up the value of van Goghs and on financial speculation. That accumulates even more money, but it doesn't produce anything. The squeeze is on the rest of us. This argument is very similar to that of the Patriotic Millionaires in the USA, who argue that they should be taxed more in order to leave less well-off people more free cash. What creates jobs and new businesses is ordinary people having money to spend. That's what creates demand, and without demand there can be no growth. It remains to be seen whether "quantitative easing" will make any difference, but my hunch is it won't, because the money goes where the money already is, not into demand.

Sounds simple? It is. Everyone should read this book.
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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must Read 1 Nov 2011
This is a must read book. Beautifully written, the author has made economics enjoyable and easy to understand. The book demonstrates that excessive profits over wages and vice-versa will result in an imbalance in the fragile working of the western economic model and lead to the dire consequences of the 1930s, the 1970s and more recently since 2007. The book has many examples of how the greedy 1% seek to invest in high risk financial instruments, despite their wealth generating the highly volatile speculation which the City of London facilitates to the detriment of the other 99%. Whether you agree of disagree with the arguments in this book, it is a great read and highly recommended to anybody who is at all interested in the current state of world economics.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Cost of Inequality 10 Aug 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book isn't as 'high brow' as I had feared and explains quite clearly how and why the economy is up and down like a yoyo. It also paints a very grim picture of the greed of those at the top - and the outcome of this greed on those at the bottom. That those with so much can still want so much more is very sad, especially when to get it the ordinary working person is sacrificed. I now understand what hostile take-overs are and why jobs are 'shed' in the name of profit. This book won't make me an economist, but I now have a better grasp of what goes on in the world of big business.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars New ideas for liberals 16 May 2012
By S. Hare
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Usually progressives don't like free markets because, they say, they are often unfair to the weak and cause high degrees of social inequality. Free-marketeers retort there's no other way to efficiency, so everybody is due to become better off at the end of the story. In this readable book British economist Stewart Lansley explores and summarizes a new set of ideas: too much inequality leads to heavy losses of efficiency, so in the end it is harmful to all. Profits and very high incomes that outstrip productive investment opportunities lead to an overgrowth of finance; and financial instability now risks throttling productive capitalism. Lansley is no enemy of free markets; he only wants to show they work better if carefully regulated towards fairness.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the cost of inequality --stewart lansley. 21 Nov 2011
A superb review of the power and importance of money in the world today.
As someone curious, but almost totally ignorant of the factors involved, it has given me real understanding of the current global economic crisis.
Credible measures to try to tackle the crisis are suggested.
A compusory read for all thinking people.
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30 of 35 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well-researched study of capitalism's failure 2 Feb 2012
This excellent book looks at how huge and growing inequality affects Britain's economy. It complements Richard Wilkinson's splendid The spirit level, which looks at inequality's moral and social effects.

Since 1980, Britain has had three recessions, 1980-81, 1990-91 and 2008-09, in which output fell by 4.7 per cent, 2.5 per cent and 6.4 per cent.

These crises resulted from worsening relations between the classes: Thatcher's attack on the working class cut wages, causing a fall in demand. Inequality is not the cause of the crisis: it is an effect of the current state of the class struggle.

As two IMF economists, Michael Kumhof and Romain Rancière, wrote, "The crisis is the ultimate result, after a period of decades, of a shock to the relative bargaining powers over income of two groups of households, investors who account for 5 per cent of the population, and whose bargaining power increases, and workers who account for 95 per cent of the population (and whose bargaining power has fallen)."

The ruling class, primarily its financial component, loot the productive economy. We, the vast majority, suffer a slump. Since 2005, our living standards have fallen every year. The Office for Budget Responsibility forecasts that our real take-home pay will keep falling till 2016 at least.

Thatcher's hero Milton Friedman said in 1980 that Britain's industry should be allowed to fall to bits. Financial services would fill the gap. Thatcher embraced this view and enforced it. Labour followed Thatcher.

Thatcher removed lending controls, enabling the growth of credit card companies, loan companies and building societies turned banks. But between 1979 and 2009, financial services generated only 140,000 new jobs.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Eye opener.
1% of the global population have more money then the rest of us put together not for any other reason than greed this is a must read for anyone interested in sociology.
Published 5 months ago by dawn edgenton
4.0 out of 5 stars Greed is not great
An argument in "The Cost of Inequality" is that income inequality can and does cause economic instability, something that would have to come as a blow to advocates of financial... Read more
Published 5 months ago by GL
5.0 out of 5 stars In The Shadow of Economic Inequality
A well presented argument that brings together, analyses and explains many strategies and situations about which, I, for one, have been concerned for many years. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Michael George Redhead
5.0 out of 5 stars Well researched
Depressingly accurate view of the current economic situation. Lots of facts and figures to back up the view that high income inequality is not only morally wrong but also bad for... Read more
Published 15 months ago by Wombat's friend
4.0 out of 5 stars Deregulation and excesive greed is bad for capitalism
Well argued case for ending the disparaging gap between rich and poor, not on the political grounds of socialistic ideology, but from a capitalistic point of view. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars great book
For the reader who wants some perspective on the growth of inequality in the UK---and in particular, how inequality affects Britain's growth prospects---this is an excellent book. Read more
Published 17 months ago by gwi
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent account
This is a very clear explanation of the reasons for the financial crisis, and it has made a number of factors that played a part and their underlying significance clear to me. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Ellen
4.0 out of 5 stars Continuing cost of inequality
Chock a block full of statistics backing a logical & informed argument for economic reform of the global monetary system of Capitalism. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Chris R
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyed
Excellent read. Would recommend everyone reads it. Explained so much about the way things are. Very good book on subject.
Published 18 months ago by Capt C
5.0 out of 5 stars Cost of Inequality
Should be made compulsory reading for all politicians, greedy CEO's and fat cat bankers. A complete condemnation of the economic policy of making the rich super rich at the expense... Read more
Published 18 months ago by Grizzly Adams
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