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The Price of Civilization: Economics and Ethics After the Fall
The Price of Civilization: Economics and Ethics After the Fall
by Jeffrey Sachs
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 16.47

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars diagnosis of the US and solution, 15 Jan 2012
This book is about what to do to correct the three decades of mistakes by Reagan politics which has been characterised by an unprecedented inequality. Tax cut only for the rich, deregulation, and unfettered belief about the market power do everything right has been the dominant ideology among both sides of the Atlantic. This is not a new idea now as we already saw the Occupy movements around the world from London, Seoul to New York. The new point of the author's argument lies with the statement that we are entering a new era where Asia, which before the 18th century accounted for more than half of production of the world, once again becomes a powerful region.Mass job loss and an increasing pay gap between skilled and unskilled labour market are explained in terms of Asia's economic resurgence. During the 1980s developed nations such as the United States should have invested more heavily on education and put in place some job sharing scheme similar to that of Germans. However the United States and the United Kingdom were eager to please business classes. They selected job cuts and tax cut for the rich. The result is mass unemployment among the working class and a new Gilded age for Americans. The author also describes and criticises the moneyed interests of corporate America. Lobbying firms and revolving door system between lobbyists and politicians put American politics in the grip of corporations.

The most powerful is the traditional military industrial complex. They have been thriving on wars in the middle east contracting out defence work project. Financial industry also became a powerful player in Washington. The industry received bailout money and continued massive executive compensation payment. Major reforms, even in the face of financial collapse, were thwarted and postponed or simply labeled as socialistic ideas. Healthcare industry now wields as much political influence in American politics as the military industrial complex. Obama's health care has some benefits for the ordinary people, however the juice of money is for the industry and no reform was instigated for the reduction of health care cost. The oil industry also grabbed the Congress, the Senate as well as the House of Representatives. Sustainable developments and alternative energy development were never raised seriously by the government.

The book's main point is that it provides answers very clearly to the aforementioned challenge. The author emphasises the paramount importance of investment for the future. Early childhood education was mentioned as the most profitable investment by the public sector. The government should provide money and infrastructure for never ending education. Other investment projects such as roads and public facilities should be renewed. His idea of public investment is mentioned not so much in terms of demand boost as in terms of future investment. Active labour market policies is also encouraged to boost employment.
All in all the alternative to today's America is a mixed economy in which the federal government provides money and resources for investment for children and young adults.

Inevitably thus we have to search where we can find money for all the social spending. After a careful reading of the book we realises that there's no money left even if we dissect government's budget in detail. The truth is without tax increase for the rich there is no large amount of money for social investment. Tax increase for the rich is essential to cure the United States of this problem.

To do the aforementioned reform he suggest a social movement such as the third party to criticise the right wing two party system, Republicans and Democrats. The young generation, who are socially active and articulate, are encouraged to fight for new America.


Globalization and Its Discontents
Globalization and Its Discontents
by Joseph Stiglitz
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The IMF was indicted by the supporter of capitalism with human face, 20 Feb 2011
This is an indictment for the IMF. The crimes are region according to the author. The IMF was the direct result from the experience of the Great Depression in the 1930s when nations reduced deficit and increased interest rate in the face of the Depression. The IMF, under the aegis of Keynes,was supposed to provide liquidity to countries who might experience economic difficulties. After the Reagan era, however, the IMF was hijacked by market fundamentalists who were modern day Hooverites.

The IMF became the nub of problem rather than the solution to the Asian financial crisis. First it, together with the Treasury, demanded capital market liberalisation from South Korea. Korea finally succumbed to the demand even though Korean officials had many worries about unregulated capital market which is dominated by hot money. This had become the seed of Asian Financial Crisis. When the crisis finally came, the IMF prescriptions was a disaster for many people. It almost ordered the Korean government to raise interest rate and reduce budget deficit. The sudden hike of interest rate forced even healthy businesses to go to the wall. For three decades Korea recorded at most less than 5% of unemployment. During the `IMF crisis' the number crossed over double digit. In Asia the Asian Financial crisis has been called the IMF crisis. The Crisis was almost engineered in that without the harsh IMF demand for high interest rate and fiscal austerity the Crisis wound't have caused such economic hardship for many Asian people. Even though the IMF prescription is difficult to understand on intellectual basis, it is plausible if we assume that the IMF was just seeking the interests of US financial industry. However that is not the IMF's mission or its reason for existence.

In the chapter `Who lost Russia' the author reveals how the IMF supported corrupt Russian government. The sudden privatisation with no proper frame work for market brought out oligarchs who were usually friends of the Kremlin and usurped newly privatised companies in asset stripping. The economy lost more than half of its production capacity during the IMF led transition period. The failure of transition from communism to capitalist economy in Russia was not inevitable pain for transition economies. These were caused by policy failures of market fundamentalists who got the majority power at the IMF and the Treasury. The IMF concerned about only exchange rate and inflation while unemployment and social stability were totally disregarded.

International trade organisations like WTO are also the subject of criticism. The huge agricultural subsidies for rich farmers in developed countries maintained while developing countries were forced to open market for manufactured goods. This is why anti-globalisation forces are so strong wherever the international trade meetings take place.

Stiglitz is not just criticising the IMF and the Treasury, he also gives alternatives to existing flawed policies. China's slow but measured approach toward modern capitalism is praised and Malaysia's capital control during the Crisis is also given special attention.

The IMF is obsessed with market fundamentalism and the belief in it is so strong there is no need of evidence to support its theories. This is the main reason that the IMF made systematic policy mistakes during the whole 1990s.

However, it must be recognised that Stiglitz is a fervent supporter for globalisation. East Asia's successful stories from Japan to South Korea to China through foreign trade are raised as an example of successful globalisation.

The author's main claim is that there is a different version of globalisation in which the concerns of developing nations like poverty reduction and inequality should play as much an important role as the interests of developed nations' finance in making decisions on the global issues.


The Conscience of a Liberal: Reclaiming America From The Right
The Conscience of a Liberal: Reclaiming America From The Right
by Paul Krugman
Edition: Paperback
Price: 8.76

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How America became such an unequal society and what is to be done to create new New Deal policies, 18 Feb 2011
This book is a history book about America's politics and economy since the second world war. The argument is that the inequality since the 1980s is not the product of inevitable market forces but that of political decisions instigated by movement conservatives. Today's Americans with median income does not enjoy as much material well being as their father's generations did. This is almost a scandal considering during the period the GDP of the US increased enormously. The economic inequality also reinforces political inequality as ever small number of executives put money and efforts to maintain current unfair system.

The author began his argument by reexamining pre-New Deal America. This is quite relevant as the level of inequality of the time is very similar to that of current period. This is new Gilded age in which the rich and powerful live in the sunshine of fabulous riches while the majority, even the middle class families, face job insecurity and uncertain future. Revisiting the politics of welfare state, the author proves that America's welfare state was not the result of gradual evolution but the result of sudden political decision making taken by Roosevelt administration. The great compression, the great equality among the masses, was the product of progressive politics such as giving unions great power in political activity as well as in wage negotiations and income tax increases.

The movement conservative began to rear its ugly head in the 1960s and found its public face in the person of Reagan when he waged a fierce battle against Berkley University students. Racial prejudice was used to corrupt the minds of southern Democrats. Finally the movement conservative captured the southern conservative Democrats in its wing.

As soon as the power of America was fallen into the hands of movement conservative, the gap between the rich and the ordinary began to increase. The tax cut and deregulation helped the executives and powerful people to consolidate wealth and power. The great inequality since the 1980s is the direct result of political decisions and choices by the rightwing politics in the US. The glaring inequality is especially clear when we compare the difference in income between the haves and the more haves. The median Americans just enjoy as much as or less than their fathers in material well-being while the 1% of the population enjoy as much as or more than their counterparts in the Gilded age.

The movement conservative gained power in the 1980s and created fabulously unequal society within a very short period. However their base is on the deception and divergence. New democratic majority can be forged to revitalise the New Deal spirits. The author particularly emphasise the importance of establishing universal healthcare by which the government makes sure every citizen in America get access affordable health care. The new democratic majority will revitalise unions and introduce policies to reduce inequality.

This book was written before the Great Recession of 2008. After the Recession, it is very clear that the rightwing politics of unlimited deregulation is a very dangerous gamble on the lives of many ordinary people. This book will be useful to understand America's political economy.


Freefall: Free Markets and the Sinking of the Global Economy
Freefall: Free Markets and the Sinking of the Global Economy
by Joseph Stiglitz
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars critical review of American economy by an economist with human heart, 13 Feb 2011
This book is about dissecting the cause of the Great Recession in 2008 and critically assessing measures to tackle the Recession under the Bush and Obama administration. This book is not just about Republican bashing but also criticising Obama's approach toward the Crisis. His criticism about Obama's financial reform is harsh and stern. He suggests that the old guards, the ones who have blood on their hands during the Crisis such as Ben Bernanke and Timothy Geitner, should be sent home by the New Obama administration. However, Obama picked old guards as his new team for financial reform. This resulted in the reform's half-heartedness and ineffectiveness. The banks who had caused the crisis received billions of dollars in assistance from the government in the hope that they might begin lending money to small and medium sized businesses. This approach is labeled trickle down economics by the author. The effect was small and unreliable as banks sought profits and gave bonuses for their executives before any money going to the small and medium sized businesses. There are no fairness and no effectiveness in Obama's financial reform. The bankers win if the economy booms and they also win if the economy fails as the government bailouts them. He also cast a critical eye on the unfair redistribution of national wealth through the Bush-Obama bailouts. The rich got richer and became more powerful thanks to the unfair bailouts while ordinary Americans lost homes and healthcare.

Another point of this book is the harsh assessment of flawed Reagan economics. The 2008 Crisis was not the inevitable result which happens once in a thousand years. The Crisis was the result of the deliberate choices and policy selections by previous American governments such as Reagan and Bush administrations. Financial deregulations made possible banks and financial institutions took big risks. The regulators of government offices were filled with people like Alan Greenspun who despised and abandoned government regulations on financial market. The result is the New Gilded Age in which executives were paid in millions while median income for ordinary Americans stagnated or fell during the decade of new millennium. Bush tax cuts made the government deficit soaring while the rich became richer when the Crisis came in 2008. The Crisis have its cheerleaders and supporters in the supply side economics including all the major economists like Milton Friedman as well as in the Republican politicians like Reagan who bashed the government as the cause of all the major problems. The crisis was the result of their flawed economics and inappropriate policy choices.

On global scale Stieglitz also mentions the Sino-American relationship. The reason the Fed can sell T-bills at close to zero interest rate is China and many Asian countries' willingness to obtain foreign reserves at any cost. This is another result of flawed measures of the IMF and the Treasury during the Asian Financial crisis. At the time the IMF demanded interest rate hike and government deficit reduction from governments in Asia while the economy is in deep recession. As a result of these policies many Asian governments are fear of the IMF bailouts more than they fear of the economic crisis itself. The huge dollar reserves by Asian governments is the desperate attempt to avoid any possible future IMF bailouts. Rather than resorting the IMF bailouts they choose putting their hard earned money into almost zero interest paying T-bills.

In his afterword the author emphasises that the Crisis is not over, the US economy just avoided falling over the precipice but nothing more than that. The government bailout package worked despite all the defects and half-hearted measures in the sense that the US avoided the current crisis. However, as the main reasons and causes of the Crisis were not dealt with adequately there might be another day to face the looming crisis all over again.


The Return of Depression Economics
The Return of Depression Economics
by Paul Krugman
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars economic crisis and easy, less painful solution by Keynesian economics, 7 Feb 2011
For several years I have tried to read books about economics. Among them this book is the easiest and clearest book I've ever read.

This book is begun from quotes by eminent central bankers like Ben Bernanke and Alan Greenspan which praise the Great Moderation of capitalism. However, we all know what happened after the Moderation.

This book chronicles modern economic crisis from Latin America. The unique point of this book is that the author does not subscribe to conventional wisdom. According to conventional wisdom, which is the so-called supply side economics, the Latin American crisis was caused by corrupt and inefficient capitalism. The unmentioned assumption is that if Latin American countries had adopted New York or London style capitalism there would have been no crisis.
For Asian countries during the financial crisis the IMF demanded high interest rate and austerity budget from Asian governments. This is in stark contrast to Keynesian remedy for depression. Lower interest rate and budget deficit for fiscal stimulus spending are right remedy for depression economics. The US government even under Bush presidency did these things for their economy. However, for the Asian countries in the 1990s the Treasury and the IMF demanded severe punishment for crony capitalism. The conventional treatment for the Asian countries were austerity measures. Under this condition many Asian businesses suffered sudden failures and unemployed people roamed the streets for years. The author's idea is that the Asian countries should have adopted demand management policies such as reduced interest rates and fiscal stimulus measures to deter a looming crisis.

As for the Great Financial Crunch of 2008 the author explains the crisis by describing the collapsing business confidence in shadow banking sector. This is the sector which has grown in the importance in the economy but exists outside of the government regulation.

Overall this book is about recent credit crunches which happened from Latino American countries through east Asian countries to the US. Throughout the book the author's main argument is that if the economy had been managed by Keynesian demand approach there wouldn't have been such frequent crisis which had happened recently and the severity of the crisis would have been much more bearable than the actual cases.

However, there are something you should not expect to gain from reading this book. There are no extensive explanation for the 2008 financial crisis in the US. Rather you find detailed description of Asian financial crisis and Japanese depression.

Reading this book is like reading detective novels. I've read this book within just two days. Record for an economic book.


Economics
Economics
by Paul R. Krugman
Edition: Hardcover

11 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good book by a Novel laureate and easy to understand with minimum math and rightwing ideology, 2 Feb 2011
This review is from: Economics (Hardcover)
I know there are many economics textbooks whose writers are Novel laureates. Therefore it is not that important that Paul Krugman is a Novel laureate. This book, however, is different in several points from other economic textbooks. The first thing is that the author openly acknowledges the imperfect market suggesting that government intervention should be sought to correct the imperfections. Of course other books also recognise the defects of the market system. The difference is that the other books are still insisting that market is the solution even for the imperfect market. Eventually you get the impression that only the market is the solution after reading other economic textbooks. The government represents inefficiency and upsetting natural equilibrium. If you read about minimum wage in any economic textbooks you get the idea that trade union is disrupting the efficient labour market. Today's ordinary economic textbooks are on the whole rightwing ideology textbooks bent on busting unions and fighting welfare state. This book is not one of them.After the Great Crisis in 2008 we know what the market can do and can't do. However ordinary economic textbooks still pretends the Crisis never happened. They still teach efficient market hypothesis and rational expectations. They are plainly wrong theories. Why did the market go down in 2008? Existing economic textbooks needs serious rewriting. In this book you will find plenty of examples actually happened during the Crisis or after the Crisis.
In the macroeconomics of this book, you will understand why demand is important in supporting real GDP in the short term.

Another important point of this books is the fact that mathematics in this book is really basic. You will find that your level of mathematical skills are enough to understand this book. However, there are many historical examples of economic events. I think this is a proper approach to deal with economic issues. If you depend too much on mathematics in economic study, your economics might be beautiful logically but have nothing to do with actual economics.

My point of this books is that this is not right wing economic textbooks like any other books. It is also easy to understand basic concept of economics. One drawback is that there is no answer key for problems unless your professor give you the answer. What a pity it is.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 7, 2012 9:52 PM BST


Keynes: The Return of the Master
Keynes: The Return of the Master
by Robert Skidelsky
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.99

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars review of the current economic affairs, 29 Jan 2011
This must be a good book. I've just finished this book. However, this is apparently not for a novice like me. I had much difficulty understanding this book. This book is not a biography about Keynes. There is no mention of his private life. Rather this book is a review of the current economic affairs by a scholar who adopts Keynesian approach. Especially important to understand this book is understanding uncertainty in Keynesian economics.
New classical economists introduced rational expectation by which concept all the government's efforts to increase aggregate demand ends up disrupting the economics which has a natural tendency of finding proper equilibrium. The author constantly criticises "Freshwater economics" for their Newtonian approach towards macroeconomic issues such as unemployment, savings and investment. For this part I don't understand clearly. Despite this the clear impression I get is that the assumption that the market always and naturally finds its own equilibrium for employment and investment looks like a fairy tale in the guise of social science. I always find unemployed friends and relatives while the new classical economists are always saying that they are unemployed voluntarily. The new classical economics must be a fairy tale as its narrative has no relevance to reality and its approach to the crisis in 2008 provided no prescription for people. They are quasi-scientists like communist were pseudo-scientists.
After reading this book I am still confused over macroeconomics. However, this book must be good for serious readers who want to understand the world we live in.


DAYLIGHT FULL SPECTRUM NATURAL LIGHT READING LAMP 5000lux:IF YOU ARE SERIOUS ABOUT READING YOU WILL WANT ONE OF THESE. BRAND NEW MODEL 1.02 mtrs FOR MAXIMUM LIGHT OVER TEXT.
DAYLIGHT FULL SPECTRUM NATURAL LIGHT READING LAMP 5000lux:IF YOU ARE SERIOUS ABOUT READING YOU WILL WANT ONE OF THESE. BRAND NEW MODEL 1.02 mtrs FOR MAXIMUM LIGHT OVER TEXT.

3.0 out of 5 stars Good product but should include a screw, 20 Jan 2011
Good product. Easy to assemble.
The only problem is there is no screw to fit into the device.
I once lived in Korea. When I bought a small desk there the seller sent it with a screw driver and lots of spare screws.Why don't you also include several screws in the package?


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