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Joao MOTA de CAMPOS (Lisboa, Portugal)
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Freefall: Free Markets and the Sinking of the Global Economy
Freefall: Free Markets and the Sinking of the Global Economy
by Joseph Stiglitz
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Biased, 16 Nov 2010
I love to read Stiglitz: he is informative, committed, even passionate about his theme, he thinks forward and much of his criticism of the prevailing system is accurate and to the point.
Nevertheless, he is too committed. His main thesis is that the system is biased and has fundamental flaws that would always determine its ultimate failure. He flays alive his opponents ascertaining to them a complete lack of understanding of the fundamentals of modern economics, imputing to them a complete belief in the market and its self correcting forces, whereas, he postulates, such things do not exist and the role of the State as a regulator has been bypassed, that being the cause of our present problems.
That is the thesis he develops in «Freefall», his book about the root causes of the crisis. Although Mr. Stiglitz acknowledges in the preface that the growth in the west was based on a mountain of debt and that there is something fundamentally wrong when one part of the world consumes without producing and the other produces without consuming, he does not withdraw the consequences of this.
As a matter of fact, his enmity towards the «system», what he calls the Washington Consensus, or his «receipt for disaster», blinds him to the fact of the fundamental shift in economic paradigm that occurred in the last two decades when several regions of the world fuelled by huge rates of savings, like Japan in the sixties and seventies, started to accede to enough technology to develop a good enough industry to export «en force», profiting from very low human resource costs and almost no social entitlements. In the meanwhile, the western hemisphere entered an economy of services of high added value but disconnected from the needs and education of its populations. Also, more and more entitlements put more and more pressure in Governments to cope with rising demands of social coverage.
That was the «receipt for disaster» of which Mr. Stiglitz says nothing of consequence.
As a matter of fact, there might be a lot of things quite wrong with the prevailing system, but the fundamental one about the present crisis, something that will endure in the future and is only getting worse, is that this is the «crisis of debt» both private, caused by an unsustainable model of growth based on ever growing debt due to the lack of savings, and public, caused by ever rising demands on Government to cover every aspect of people's life.
Anyone looking at the last ten years will see a glaring fact: that for long the trend of growth in the West is much lower then in emerging economies, breaking a previous long trend of higher growth in developed countries; and, that also breaking with the previous secular trend, the West became a importer of capital, instead of exporting it.
That is globalization in reverse and we are now coping with its long reaching consequences.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 31, 2011 11:21 AM BST


Stiglitz Report, The
Stiglitz Report, The
by Joseph Stiglitz
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.93

7 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Different aproaches, 16 Nov 2010
This review is from: Stiglitz Report, The (Paperback)
I love to read Stiglitz: he is informative, committed, even passionate about his theme, he thinks forward and much of his criticism of the prevailing system is accurate and to the point.
Nevertheless, he is too committed. His main thesis is that the system is biased and has fundamental flaws that would always determine its ultimate failure. He flays alive his opponents ascertaining to them a complete lack of understanding of the fundamentals of modern economics, imputing to them a complete belief in the market and its self correcting forces, whereas, he postulates, such things do not exist and the role of the State as a regulator has been bypassed, that being the cause of our present problems.
That is the thesis he develops in «Freefall», his book about the root causes of the crisis. Although Mr. Stiglitz acknowledges in the preface that the growth in the west was based on a mountain of debt and that there is something fundamentally wrong when one part of the world consumes without producing and the other produces without consuming, he does not withdraw the consequences of this.
As a matter of fact, his enmity towards the «system», what he calls the Washington Consensus, or his «receipt for disaster», blinds him to the fact of the fundamental shift in economic paradigm that occurred in the last two decades when several regions of the world fuelled by huge rates of savings, like Japan in the sixties and seventies, started to accede to enough technology to develop a good enough industry to export «en force», profiting from very low human resource costs and almost no social entitlements. In the meanwhile, the western hemisphere entered an economy of services of high added value but disconnected from the needs and education of its populations. Also, more and more entitlements put more and more pressure in Governments to cope with rising demands of social coverage.
That was the «receipt for disaster» of which Mr. Stiglitz says nothing of consequence.
As a matter of fact, there might be a lot of things quite wrong with the prevailing system, but the fundamental one about the present crisis, something that will endure in the future and is only getting worse, is that this is the «crisis of debt» both private, caused by an unsustainable model of growth based on ever growing debt due to the lack of savings, and public, caused by ever rising demands on Government to cover every aspect of people's life.
Anyone looking at the last ten years will see a glaring fact: that for long the trend of growth in the West is much lower then in emerging economies, breaking a previous long trend of higher growth in developed countries; and, that also breaking with the previous secular trend, the West became a importer of capital, instead of exporting it.
That is globalization in reverse and we are now coping with its long reaching consequences.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 12, 2013 7:31 PM BST


A Country Is Not a Company (Harvard Business Review Classics)
A Country Is Not a Company (Harvard Business Review Classics)
by Paul Krugman
Edition: Paperback

26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Clear and concise, 19 Jan 2010
A Country is not a Company is the kind of provocative book that makes you think again.
Most of its stuff goes against your common sense, but when you work it up, it makes sense. It makes economic sense, although not always «no-nonsense sense».
It is a very small booklet, really more of an essay; you can read in one hour. If economics interests you, it is a well spent one hour.


Greenspan's Bubbles: The Age of Ignorance at the Federal Reserve
Greenspan's Bubbles: The Age of Ignorance at the Federal Reserve
by William Fleckenstein
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £12.47

6 of 13 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Detractors take the stand, 2 April 2008
Public men in the public eye and with very public actions tend to have eulogists and detractors.
Alan Greenspan was Chairman of the FED for 19 years and three Presidents. During his tenure as Chairman, globalisation came of age, China erupted in the world scene, geopolitical trends shifted with the fall of the Wall, the Euro and September 11th.
The only strange thing in this long period is that no catastrophic event occurred, although a lot of recessions and financial crisis took place throughout the world.
There was never a unanimity about Greenspan's actions and decisions (although they were not only his) and those who read Joseph Stiglitz's «The Roaring Nineties» noticed that he took more then a few pot-shots at Alan Greenspan, to give an example.
When an economic downturn occurs, like the one triggered by the sub-prime crisis, those who dislike the market economics blame it on the market and its rules and of course on its Heralds and Icons; But, making an idiot and a blunderer of the man who oversaw one of the longest and most ebullient periods of growth in the United Sates and the world at large is not an useful contribution to the understanding of what is at stake now.
"Greenspan's Bubbles: The Age of Ignorance at the Federal Reserve" by William Fleckenstein and Fred Sheehan will not go down in any serious analysis of the period. The Age of Turbulence by Alan Greenspan will. Read it instead.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 6, 2008 1:47 PM BST


Finding George Orwell in Burma
Finding George Orwell in Burma
by Emma Larkin
Edition: Paperback

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Emma Larkin's Burma, 31 Mar 2008
As an introduction to "Burmese Days" by Orwell, this book can be useful.
Emma Larkin travelled extensively through Myanmar and found a lot of people and went to a lot of places, succeeding in conveying to us some of the flavour and scents of the Burmese scene, but mostly she chases after the ghost of Orwell. Her main conclusion should have been that the ghost is no longer there.
Other travel books in Burma ("the Trouser People") try to achieve the same purpose using other authors, but the idea is the same.
Clearly Myanmar is one of the most fascinating, fulfilling and memorable travels one can make, and you can dispense altogether the pretexts to get to know it better.
As a political critique, this book is mixed and not very clear. Anyway, a good reading to anyone thinking about going there.


Guests of the Ayatollah: The First Battle in the West's War on Militant Islam
Guests of the Ayatollah: The First Battle in the West's War on Militant Islam
by Mark Bowden
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £18.35

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars memories of the Ayatolla, 19 Dec 2006
When in 1979 the American Embassy in Teheran was overrun by islamic students and the diplomats made hostage no one could have imagined that fourteen months later they would still be there. This ran contrary to every notion of civilised coexistence that we westerners had. The nearest thing would be the tentative seizure of diplomatic enclave in Peking at the turn of the nineteenth century, but then it was defeated.

Mark Bowden brings superbly alive the event, explains it and gives us the point of view of the hostage, the hostage takers, President Carter fighting with increasing difficulty for his re-election and let us guess - the only thing possible - the state of mind of the men in power behind the scene in Teheran. It reads like a gripping novel and it is all true.

The only fault I find in this book is its deficient appraisal of the fear instilled in Iranians by the election of President Reagan. No doubts they could guess that his accession to the Presidency would change things for them, and for the worse.

At a certain point, a hostage is depicted talking to a guardian about the incoming presidential elections. The guard clearly prefers Reagan. The American hostage asks him if he knows what will happen to Iran if Reagan is elected. He explains: «boom!».

This book is a classic and the author deserves a hguge applause.


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