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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Someone had to tell them that the emperor has no clothes - austerity is mere foppery and Keynes still has something to teach us.
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...
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40 of 53 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Better at problems than solutions
As you would expect from a Nobel prize winner, Stiglitz knows his stuff. In this book he gives intellectual coherence to the anger of the 1% movement. He is strong on outlining the problems and challenges of an increasingly unequal America: this book is focused on America, although most of the lessons and trends apply to the UK to a greater or lesser extent. Some of the...
Published on 14 July 2012 by Jo Owen


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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Someone had to tell them that the emperor has no clothes - austerity is mere foppery and Keynes still has something to teach us., 27 Sep 2013
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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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars makes sense, 14 Nov 2013
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Easy to read and well researched. Could do with more on the solutions to the problem, but certainly makes you think.
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40 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent book with an important argument, 2 July 2012
This review is from: The Price of Inequality (Hardcover)
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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20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compulsory reading!, 16 Aug 2012
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Dr. I. G. Poole "ian3637" (Liverpool) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Price of Inequality (Hardcover)
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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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If only Osborne would read and understand it!!, 27 May 2013
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John S. McDonald (Norwich,England) - See all my reviews
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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 such counterproductive "solutions"on GB. in particular and on Europe in general. Much of the text is aimed in more detail at the shortcomings of the US economy and the timid Obamaesque approaches inthe face of the ignorance and self-interest of Republican blowhards .Given the clarity of the analysis and the recommendations that are obviously needed it is so painful to endure the one note,one policy of the Coalition govt. in GB and their reprehensibly divisive policies aimed at the elderly,weak and poor while a Cabinet of millionaires protects their like.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A government of, by and for the 1 percent, 29 Jun 2014
By 
Luc REYNAERT (Beernem, Belgium) - See all my reviews
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In this formidably outspoken and crystal clear book, J. Stiglitz lays bare the brutal division within the US society between the wealthy and all powerful 1 percent and the rest of the population. He unmasks apparent truths as myths, stigmatizes those responsible for the sorry state of the union, unveils the paths of power and illustrates profusely the really heavy price of inequality.

Myths
For J. Stiglitz, the US is in no way the land of (equal) opportunity anymore. Trickle-down economics (giving money to the wealthy few will be beneficial for everybody) is a lie; to the contrary, trickle-up policies should be implemented. Free markets don’t exist, only rigged ones. A ‘free market system’ is in no way self-correcting, but fundamentally unstable. Monetary policies alone cannot steer (inter)national economies.

Paths of power
The wealthy 1 percent amassed their fortunes through ‘rents’, also monopoly, tax and ‘public gift’ rents.
They dominate the political ‘democratic’ system with their campaign contributions (one dollar - one vote). Its permits them to concoct the basic rules of the socio-economic game (laws, (de)regulations, taxations, institutional and judicial procedures) to their own advantage.
They control the information circuits through their media conglomerates.

Failed governments and bad economics
For J. Stiglitz, recent US governments failed to enhance the living standard of the vast majority of the population. They created a nation with a bad educational system, bad banking regulations allowing predatory lending, and, most importantly, high unemployment.
The overall picture is one of lacking fairness and justice, where everything seems acceptable and nobody accountable: those who brought recently the world economy to the brink of ruin were not found guilty.
The US economic system is highly inefficient: huge needs (infrastructure, schools) are not met and vast resources (workers, machinery) are underutilized. Thereby economic growth and productivity are undermined. Governmental spending is highly biased: money for useless jet fighters, not for skilled labor, money for troubled banks not for troubled homeowners.

Remedies
The first and foremost goal of all economic policies should be full employment.
In order to limit budget deficits wars should be ended and defense spending curtailed.
Taxation should be fair and more progressive.
Corporate welfare and hidden subsidies should be stopped, while drug companies should not be overpaid.

Even after this devastating indictment of heavily biased economic policies, J. Stiglitz still remains hopeful that a political reform agenda can be implemented.

This hard-hitting book is a must read for all men and women of good will.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An astonishing eye opener, 23 May 2013
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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. In a world of increasingly globalised corporations and capital movements, and politics infested with relentless lobbying, governments are increasingly emasculated - Stiglitz does an excellent job of warning of the threat to democracy this entails.

Incidentally, it is not a socialist doctrine as some would no doubt suggest; it is a wake up call for capitalism itself, in that it needs to learn how to work for all its citizens, not just the top 1%.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Must read, 26 May 2013
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Everyone who is concerned about the rising differences between the haves (the 1%) and the rest of society should read this.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enlightening, 4 Feb 2013
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To me this book brought a lot of new knowledge of how things are knit together. How various measures put in place by politicians and nations impact on ordinary people, and whom they eventually benefit. It's a mind opening book that results in some rethinking.
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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb study of our current crisis, 31 Aug 2012
By 
William Podmore (London United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Price of Inequality (Hardcover)
In this remarkable book, the greatest living economist shows how the economic and political system has failed - the market is not working and government has not corrected this market failure. His focus is on the USA, but his insights apply to other countries too.

Most people in the USA are worse off than they were 30 years ago. 18 per cent of young people are unemployed and eight million families have been evicted from their homes. Wages are falling by $0.5 trillion a year, far more than Obama's stimulus packages.

Some say that flexible labor markets and lower wages will aid recovery. But, as Stiglitz points out, "the United States, with allegedly the most flexible labor market, performed far worse than countries with stronger labor protections (like Sweden and Germany). And the reason is obvious: cuts in wages reduce total demand and deepen the downturn."

Gordon Brown told us that an independent central bank would improve matters. But as Stiglitz points out, "The independent central banks of the United States and Europe didn't perform particularly well in the last crisis. They certainly performed far more poorly than less independent central banks like those of India, China, and Brazil. The reason was obvious: America's and Europe's central banks had, in effect, been captured by the financial sector. They might not have been democratically accountable, but they did respond to the interests and perspectives of the bankers. The bankers wanted low inflation, a deregulated financial sector, with lax supervision, and that's what they got - even though the economic losses from inflation were minuscule compared with the losses that arose from the excessively deregulated financial market. The losses to ordinary consumers from predatory lending were given short shrift - indeed, the additional profits increased the financial strength of the banks. The soundness of the financial system was, after all, the central banks' first charge."

As he observes, "As soon as wages start to recover, the central bankers, with their single-minded focus on inflation, raise the spectre of price increases. They raise interest rates and tighten credit, to maintain unemployment at an unnecessarily high level."

The Coalition tells us that their `austerity' policies (actually, poverty policies) will bring recovery, but Stiglitz emphasises, "The critical point to bear in mind in thinking about deficit reduction is that the recession caused the deficits, not the other way around. More austerity will only worsen the downturn, and the hoped-for improvement in the fiscal position will not emerge."

He points out, "Europe's crisis is not an accident, but it's not caused by excessive long-term debts and deficits or by the `welfare' state. It's caused by excessive austerity - cutbacks in government expenditures that predictably led to the recession of 2012 - and a flawed monetary arrangement, the euro. When the euro was introduced, most disinterested economists were skeptical." "Looking across Europe, among the countries that are doing best are Sweden and Norway, with their strong welfare states and large governments, but they chose not to join the euro." After the crisis started, "The countries could agree only on further belt tightening, which forced Europe into a double-dip recession."

Stiglitz warns, "cutbacks in expenditures and taxes will lead to a contraction in the economy. And if we go one step further, as the Right wants to do, to cut back expenditures even more, in a valiant if possibly fruitless attempt to reduce the deficit, the contraction will be even greater." Simply, "cutting back on government spending destroys demand and destroys jobs." He compares `austerity' policies to medieval doctors' bloodletting.

He notes, "The worst myths are that austerity will bring recovery and that more government spending will not. ... Recessions are caused by lack of demand - total demand is less than what the economy is capable of producing. When the government cuts back on spending, demand is lowered even more, and unemployment increases. ... Underlying the myth that austerity will bring confidence is often another myth - the myth that the national government's budget is like a household's budget. Every household, sooner or later, has to live within its means. When an economy has high unemployment, the simple rule does not apply to the national budget. This is because an expansion of spending can actually expand production by creating jobs that will be filled by people who would otherwise be unemployed. A single household, by spending more than its revenues, cannot change the macro-economy. A national government can. And the increase in GDP can be a multiple of the amount spent by the government."

So the solution is clear - spend more. But why isn't it happening? What's the problem?

As Stiglitz writes, the USA has a government of the one per cent, for the one per cent, by the one per cent. He notes, "the success of the moneyed interests in creating a system of `one dollar, one vote'", in `corporations controlling Congress'.

So the 99 per cent in the USA will have to organise to break Wall Street's stranglehold. To do this they will have to shed illusions about American society.
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