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The Price of Inequality [Hardcover]

Joseph Stiglitz
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)

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Book Description

28 Jun 2012

The top 1 percent have the best houses, the best educations, the best doctors, and the best lifestyles, but there is one thing that money doesn't seem to have bought: an understanding that their fate is bound up with how the other 99 percent live. Throughout history, this is something that the top 1 percent eventually do learn - too late.

In this timely book, Joseph Stiglitz identifies three major causes of our predicament: that markets don't work the way they are supposed to (being neither efficient nor stable); how political systems fail to correct the shortcomings of the market; and how our current economic and political systems are fundamentally unfair. He focuses chiefly on the gross inequality to which these systems give rise, but also explains how inextricably interlinked they are. Providing evidence that investment - not austerity - is vital for productivity, and offering realistic solutions for levelling the playing field and increasing social mobility, Stiglitz argues that reform of our economic and political systems is not just fairer, but is the only way to make markets work as they really should.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Allen Lane (28 Jun 2012)
  • Language: Unknown
  • ISBN-10: 1846146933
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846146930
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 3.9 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 187,042 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


An impassioned argument backed by rigorous economic analysis. " --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Joseph Stiglitz was Chief Economist at the World Bank until January 2000. He is currently University Professor of the Columbia Business School and Chair of the Management Board and Director of Graduate Summer Programs, Brooks World Poverty Institute, University of Manchester. He won the Nobel Prize for Economics in 2001 and is the best-selling author of Globalization and Its Discontents, The Roaring Nineties, Making Globalization Work and Freefall, all published by Penguin.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
It had to be written - a lone voice in the crowd (with Krugman). Gross inequality creates huge costs (externalities in the jargon) and inefficiencies down the line, both for the richest (5%) and the rest of us in the middle. US data is used more than European or Asian data, but that's not a hindrance to understanding his analysis. If you're tired of the neo-liberal economic consensus, this book will cheer you up.
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37 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent book with an important argument 2 July 2012
By G-man
In the Summer of 2011, Professor Stiglitz published an article in Vanity Fair 'Of the 1% by the 1% for the 1%' which ignited the occupy movement and unleashed a debate as to the true costs of an unequal society.

This book is the result of five decades of thinking and seven decades of living through a period of deepening economic disparities. The conclusion is clear: everyone loses in a society which has significant inequality ,including the 1%. Stiglitz's reasons are compelling, inequality induces ridigities which prevent dynamic processes from enhancing growth. Consider talent, in America today smart kids from poor backgrounds achieve lower standards of living than less talented children who have 'chosen the right parents'. This in turn prevents human capital creating the innovations and developments to further economic growth and everyone loses out.

Inequality is also endogenous to the system as a whole. It incentivises rent seeking so that individuals and organisations are encouraged to take a larger slice of the economic pie than enlarge it for the betterment of all. It promotes a legal system which protects derivative contracts but not students against university debt. It heightens crime and reduces solidarity.

However, the book is positive in outlook and places faith in the promise of deliberative democracy, argument and persuasion to forge institutions that will create a more equal society.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An astonishing eye opener 23 May 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book explains what you possibly already know - that economic policy is not guided by economic theory but by vested interests: politics, lobbyists, the super-rich. It explains how and why, and it debunks the myths of modern day ultra capitalism - such as, wealth creators create wealth that 'trickles down' to the rest of us. In fact the top 1% are getting richer and richer while the rest of us are stagnating or getting poorer. What is actually happening is that the super wealthy are all too often creating their wealth not by doing anything that has socially useful consequences but by hoovering it up from the rest of us.

This is the essence of Stiglitz's argument: that inequality is incapacitating our economies; 99% of us are better off when there is greater equality. When I say 'us' it is the citizens of the USA and UK who have lost the most in the name of supposed free market capitalism.

What struck me most about the book is that the situation has gone beyond traditional notions of right and left in politics. When 99% of us stand to gain from a different economic regime you understand that the lines are dramatically redrawn. Stiglitz claims that the super rich have achieved this position without most of us being aware of it happening. I must admit, as someone who has long believed that a world with less inequality would be more at peace with itself, and who is interested in politics and economics, I was surprised to learn exactly how bad things had got.

The most depressing aspect for me is the lack of control governments seem to have anymore.
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18 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compulsory reading! 16 Aug 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book needs to be read. It is written by an economist - former head of world bank and nobel prize winner - who knows what he is talking ablout. I am not an economist, nor could I be described as a 'socialist', but like many people I am instinctively disgusted by the world we are living in. Old people struggling in their homes, the disabled being left as there is no money to care for them, the ever-increasing sell-off of our cherished NHS to money-grabbing American organisations. All this while a subset of truly appalling people such as 'Fred the Shred' and Bob Diamond live in luxury and find paying taxes unnecessary. One knows it is so wrong, yet this book explains, in a non-technical way, exactly why it is wrong, why it doesn't work and what can be done about it.
Although written for an American market it is applicable to the UK and the Eurozone. It underlines that austerity - the 'cure' being forced upon us all, never works and only makes the situation worse. He debunks the myths that there have to be super-rich people in order for the rest of us plebs to have something to do. The 'trickle-down' effect is another evil myth. These people, the top 1% or even the top 0.1% have rigged the laws, the regulations and the polictical system so that they remain at the top and we steadily get poorer.
It is an excellent read. Impotent riots will only hurt ourselves, but this book points a way out of this mess by uniting (for once) around the concept of equality for everyone.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars We all know its true
The market is not working properly. The gap between rich and poor is wide and getting wider. No political representatives voice the problems of the masses. Read more
Published 25 days ago by Rimidalv
5.0 out of 5 stars This is very important and this book is best I had read so far on that...
Put new dimensions and back ground knowlegde to the economic crisis in a sober and very comprehensive way. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Kim Paulsen
5.0 out of 5 stars makes sense
Easy to read and well researched. Could do with more on the solutions to the problem, but certainly makes you think.
Published 5 months ago by Dom
5.0 out of 5 stars Mandatory for anyone interest in understanding the "state-of-the-art"...
Stiglitz exposes clearly a fact dismissed by blind right-wing capitalism supporters over the past 30 years: That modern capitalism is a model of economic growth that covers,... Read more
Published 6 months ago by fio
5.0 out of 5 stars Should be very widely read
I really like this book. It unpacks the arguments of those who would have us believe that unregulated capitalism brings benefits to us all. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Mr. D. Cunningham
4.0 out of 5 stars Stimulating 'insider' perspective on American inequality and its...
Books written by former insiders often provide stimulating new perspectives - and this one from the pen of the former Chief Economist to the World Bank is no exception. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Jeremy Bevan
5.0 out of 5 stars An explicit e warning to America's "one percent" to mend their ways.
An essential sourcebook for those concerned about America's future and well being. If most Americans' don't realise how distorted their economy and society is by the income and... Read more
Published 9 months ago by David ANDERSON
3.0 out of 5 stars So So
I read Stiglitz to get an alternative view that is not presented in the main stream news, the problem is that he makes claims that are easily refuted. Read more
Published 9 months ago by David Lundqvist
3.0 out of 5 stars Less even-handed than usual
While reading this book, you would not have much trouble working out which side of the political fence Professor Stiglitz sits on. Read more
Published 10 months ago by SimonR
5.0 out of 5 stars If only Osborne would read and understand it!!
A highly articulate and readable text by somebody who understands economics and its political agenda and seeks genuinely to educate the economically illiterate who are imposing... Read more
Published 10 months ago by John S. McDonald
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