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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good broadside pamphlet against neoliberal madness!
It is refreshing to read a nice old-fashioned polemic written with genuine passion! It the age of 'third way' Democrats and 'New' Labour there was too much collaboration by Social Democratic parties everywhere with ideas that progressives used to think were consigned to the scrapyard of economic history in the 1930s!
I agree with so much of this book that it feels...
Published on 21 July 2012 by Duncan R. McKeown

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Clear and correct, but there is nothing new here
There is a spectre spreading across the Northern Hemisphere, the spectre of Austerity. Western Europe and North America are recording record low growth rates. Unemployment is rising, particularly among the young. Corporations are sitting on huge piles of cash and not investing. The future is bleak.

All this is because - don't forget - of the Financial Crises in...
Published on 21 Jan. 2013 by David Tuckwell


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Clear and correct, but there is nothing new here, 21 Jan. 2013
There is a spectre spreading across the Northern Hemisphere, the spectre of Austerity. Western Europe and North America are recording record low growth rates. Unemployment is rising, particularly among the young. Corporations are sitting on huge piles of cash and not investing. The future is bleak.

All this is because - don't forget - of the Financial Crises in 2008-09.

Western governments are responding to these terrifying prospects by cutting back on government spending and cutting back on social programs. When governments do this, it is called `austerity'.

Krugman does not like austerity and thinks little of the politicians and economists who champion it - `Austerians'. He thinks they make matters worse because by austerity results in there being less `aggregate demand' in the economy. During a recession or an economic slump, private companies and individuals stop spending money. This means that unless governments make up for the difference, things will only get worse.

This is, of course the standard Keynsian argument. Close to a century ago now, the famous British economist John Maynard Keynes argued that `the boom not the slump' was when austerity should be pursued. Keynes thought policy makes should focus on lowering unemployment and that the way to do this was to increase aggregate demand. Krugman follows closely in Keynes footsteps, quoting him frequently.

Krugman is completely right of course. History shows unambiguously that cutting back on government during a recession only makes things worse. For example, witness Britain tip towards an historically unprecedented triple dip recession under the `Austerian' David Cameron.

Krugman's writing is clean and concise. He helpfully avoids any technical jargon and insofar as jargon occurs, it is explained. Yet for all the helpful explanations there is an almost total lack of original thinking. And anyone familiar with Keynes or Minsky will find there almost nothing new to discover between End This Depression Now!'s covers.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good broadside pamphlet against neoliberal madness!, 21 July 2012
By 
Duncan R. McKeown "Mozartian" (Norwich, Norfolk UK) - See all my reviews
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It is refreshing to read a nice old-fashioned polemic written with genuine passion! It the age of 'third way' Democrats and 'New' Labour there was too much collaboration by Social Democratic parties everywhere with ideas that progressives used to think were consigned to the scrapyard of economic history in the 1930s!
I agree with so much of this book that it feels somewhat churlish to criticise it...but I must because I think it underestimates the problem that faces all of us (on both sides of the Atlantic and beyond).
You see, what we face is not a simple liquidity trap in the classical sense. As the Australian (not Austerian!) economist Steve Keen has pointed out, the real obstacle in the way of a government stimulus solution to the crisis is the huge overhang of private debt. Far from deleveraging, which happens after most periods of depression, personal indebtedness continues to stay stubbornly high in countries such as the US and Britain. The late, great Hyman Minsky, although a fervent Keynesian, pointed out that when Keynes wrote the 'General Theory', the working class didn't have credit cards or mortgages. I might add student loans to this list, which in the US cannot be eliminated by declaring bankruptcy!
Keen thinks that only a universal debt 'jubilee' will solve this almighty mess. This presumably would have to be organised through a modern equivalent of Bretton Woods, with international simultaneous agreement. I think that for the medium term, there is going to have to be a serious redistribution of income in order to get any demand into the economy; a possibility, I notice, that Krugman doesn't address in any depth.
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43 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Keynesian, Very Convincing, Very Readable, . . . and more than a little Disconcerting, 1 Jun. 2012
By 
Rob Julian (Birmingham, UK) - See all my reviews
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As the title to this review suggests, this book convincingly argues that America (and in most cases the rest of the developed world) needs a boost in government spending to return our economies to a healthy state. As with all Krugman's books, this is very well written in an easy conversational style, which makes it very accessible to all those whom have only recently become interested in economics due to the recent troubles.

The books I value the most are those which generate within me challenging questions and gut reactions, and reading this book has left me with a disconcerting amount of both. Can it really be that simple? Why hadn't I seriously supported this before? Could America really just government spend it's way out of a recession? Imagine how much cash it would take! . . . But then I suppose back in the 1930s perhaps the prospect of more government debt was also very scary at the time, but after a few decades of growth and inflation the debt seemed paltry. (Reader warning, homespun analogy coming up): A number of years ago I was unemployed for a few months and became very conscious of what I was spending. After I returned to work I wished I had spent a sizeable bit of money on renovating my flat, which would have been a better use of my time!

One difference between now and the last depression was that back then America had valuable manufacturing strengths and advantages, not yet developed by the majority of the world. Where as now Asia has caught up by gaining many of these positive externalities. Krugman mentions in passing that: "it's long past time to take a tougher line on China and other currency manipulators, and sanction them if necessary".p221. Generally though this book is domestic in its subject matter, and does not for me (see my profile) include enough about the subject of trade and protectionism.

However to be fair, he does counter the Chinese peril / doom mongers (of which I am a paid up member) by arguing that in fact the US "net international investment position, the difference between our overseas assets and our overseas liabilities, is in the red only to the tune of $2.5 trillion. ... of an economy that produces $15 trillion of goods and services every year."p44. I suppose if I earned say £30,000 a year, I would feel quite comfortable owing what would be the equivalent of £5,000 in net terms. He argues that most of Americans' debt's are inherently between one another and importantly in their own currency, and therefore not as economically dangerous as some would lead us to believe. He also notes that free market believers are obliged to observe, against their own preferred analysis, that the bond markets currently have very little worries about increasing government debt, as shown by historically low interest rates / yields.

This international dimension (or lack of) to the debt issue seems the key point to me. If America's debt really is mostly owed to itself, then Krugman has a point. If on the other hand the narrative is that China has lent America the money to buy Chinese made manufactured goods, then this is decadence and a route to economic dependence and decline.

One of Krugman's earlier short books was titled "A Country is not a Company" and Krugman here also warns against us falling for the "Paradox of Thrift" by applying moral housekeeping notions of prudence admirable in an open system environment, to the economics of a country which is more of a closed system, i.e. my spending is your income. But again the international dimension matters. The large American economy is mostly a closed system, but the international imbalances of trading partners like China provide leakages and distortions. If my spending is Chinese income, and too much of their income becomes not their spending on my produce, but their lending to me and purchasing of Western assets, then the Keynesian spending loop is kind of broken isn't it?

Besides the main government spending policy recommendation, Krugman also convincingly argues that increasing inflation over the next few years would be beneficial, and that deflation alongside debt is in fact the real danger to be concerned about. Krugman's treatment of the causes of the credit crunch and the section on the particular problems of the Euro are also very good. Regarding the Euro he argues for increased inflation which would allow a heating up of the German economy, resulting in higher German wages, while allowing Greek wages to stagnate, restoring their relative competitiveness. With the unlikely help of Milton Friedman he convincingly argues that currency devaluation is a better way to restore competitiveness compared to the messy unequal process of trying to reduce nominal wages, and relatively more inflation in the stronger trade surplus countries compared to the weaker ones, would be the eurozone equivalent to this. Krugman helped me to see that German economic policy, while admirably cautious and thrifty in isolation, can appear more divisive if you factor in the competitive advantages they receive from having the strength of the currency they are in pulled down by weaker members, while they still maintain their distaste for strong stimulus spending and inflation.

Even if you do not buy the book, you have to read the extract Krugman provides below from Michael Kalecki 1943, on the subject of why right wingers and business leaders don't want governments to be able to independently solve a countries unemployment issues.

"We shall deal first with the reluctance of the "captains of industry" to accept government intervention in the matter of employment. Every widening of state activity is looked upon by business with suspicion, but the creation of employment by government spending has a special aspect which makes the opposition particularly intense. Under a laissez-faire system the level of employment depends to a great extent on the so-called state of confidence. If this deteriorates, private investment declines, which results in a fall of output and employment (both directly and through the secondary effect of the fall in incomes upon consumption and investment). This gives the capitalists a powerful indirect control over government policy: everything which may shake the state of confidence must be carefully avoided because it would cause an economic crisis. But once the government learns the trick of increasing employment by its own purchases, this powerful controlling device loses its effectiveness. Hence budget deficits necessary to carry out government intervention must be regarded as perilous. The social function of the doctrine of "sound finance" is to make the level of employment dependant on the state of confidence."p94.

This extract puts words to what many people think and feel already: right-wing economic ideology serves to make society and governments more closely follow the interests of businesses and the rich. Krugman has a point when he criticises right-wing commentators for misleadingly overlaying potent concepts of morality and profligacy on these current issues. This narrative is very powerful as it can be understood (or misunderstood) by someone who knows nothing about economics. I have spoke to people who don't really grasp the complexities surrounding the competitiveness of regions within currency blocks, but who have heard all about 50 year olds in Greece getting generous pensions, and families of doctors in Greece paying no tax.

I noticed the broad range of star ratings for this book, suggesting that its bold thesis does not sit well with everyone. Perhaps some David Cameron supporters have read it, as his austerity approach comes in for criticism. If you are to the left and work for the state, you will love this book. If you are none of the above you should still read it, and you may find it disconcertingly convincing like I did.
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60 of 68 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not for the Swabian Hausfrau, 20 May 2012
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Paul Krugman's purpose in writing this book is to:

'...go over the heads of the Serious People who have, for whatever reason, taken all of us down the wrong path, at immense cost to our economies and our societies, and to appeal to informed public opinion in an effort to get us doing the right thing instead.' (Intro, Pxii).

He starts out by analysing just what has gone wrong. Many, many writers have already done this, of course - David Harvey, Nouriel Roubini, Massimo Amato to name but a few - but Krugman's analysis is still really useful. He draws exact parallels between the Great Depression and the current so-called 'Great Recession', not only in terms of cause and effect but also in the variety of responses. His central thesis, however, is that:

'...this doesn't have to be happening [italics in original]...the problem isn't with the economic engine, which is as powerful as ever. Instead, we're talking about what is basically a technical problem, a problem of organization and co-ordination.' (P22)

We have reached a 'Minsky Moment' - as an economy expands, debtors and creditors are happy to borrow and lend until, suddenly, something pops. At that point, we all look down and discover that, like Wile E Coyote running off a cliff, there is nothing holding us up, and the whole edifice comes crashing down in a 'debt-deflation spiral' (P48) Debtors are desperately trying to pay off their debts (de-leveraging) while creditors are extremely wary of lending any more - even when interest rates are virtually zero, nothing is moving. This is the liquidity trap:

'A liquidity trap happens when even at a zero interest rate the world's residents are collectively unwilling to buy as much stuff as they are willing to produce. Equivalently, the amount people want to save - that is, the income they don't want to spend on current consumption - is more than the amount businesses are willing to invest.' (P136)

And the solution is simple - print more money:

'The answer lies in depression economics, specifically in what I hope has become the familiar concept of the liquidity trap, in which even zero interest rates aren't low enough to induce sufficient spending to restore full employment. When you're not in a liquidity trap, printing lots of money is indeed inflationary. But when you are in one, it isn't; in fact, the amount of money the Fed prints is very nearly irrelevant.' (P152)

In fact, getting some inflation into the system would actually be beneficial. While deflation exacerbates the debt problem, inflation can do the opposite - and can price workers back into jobs as the real value of their wages is reduced in comparison to competitors.

There is a real sense of exasperation running through the book - to Krugman, the Keynesian solutions are there, ready and waiting. We could get out of the current depression within the space of about two years if we simply learnt from the past. But his kind of 'salt water' economics (east and west coast universities) are not in fashion and haven't been for some thirty years. Instead, the current orthodoxy is taken from the 'fresh water' Chicago school and the 'Austerians'. The battle, then, is not simply between differing macroeconomic theories, but inevitably between political ideologies too. At this point, Krugman echoes Thomas Frank and Jeffrey Sachs in talking about the 'revolving door' between the regulators and those they are supposed to regulate. He sounds again like Thomas Frank (Pity the Billionaire) when he suggests that:

'...saltwater - freshwater is about pragmatism versus quasi-religious certainty that has only grown stronger as the evidence has challenged the One True Faith.' (P104)

This rather reminded me of Ronald Suskind's 'faith-based versus reality-based America'. Krugman is first and foremost a pragmatist.

Towards the end of the book, Krugman turns his attention to Europe. Again, we see the insistence on 'austerity measures' really not benefitting either the economies or, more importantly, the people of Europe:

'If you look at what Austerians want - fiscal policy that focuses on deficits rather than job creation, monetary policy that obsessively fights even the hint of inflation and raises interest rates even in the face of mass unemployment - all of it in effect serves the interests of creditors, of those who lend as opposed to those who borrow and/or work for a living. Lenders want governments to make honoring their debts the highest priority; and they oppose any action on the monetary side that either deprives bankers of returns by keeping rates low or erodes the value of claims through inflation.' (P207)

And that is precisely what we are seeing in Greece, Spain, Ireland - countries Krugman refers to as 'GIPSI's (perhaps slightly more attractive than 'PIIGS'). Prioritising the repayment of debt over the welfare of the people of Europe will simply prolong the pain and do nothing at all to promote growth.

This is a powerful and extremely timely book. Finally, we are hearing calls for growth over austerity from some quarters - but we are still, here in Europe, faced with both Swabian hausfraus and those that think that 'unemployment is a price worth paying.'

At times, the writing style is a bit irritating - I don't really need to be advised to go watch Stagecoach to learn about bankers. But, quibbles aside, this book goes a long, long way in debunking the 'One True Faith' and provides an immediate way forward by learning from, and not simply forgetting or ignoring, the past.

The book is dedicated 'To the unemployed, who deserve better.'
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More than economics..., 24 April 2013
By 
Dr. R. G. Bullock "Gavin Bullock" (Winchester, UK) - See all my reviews
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Paul Krugman is Professor of Economics and International Affairs at Princeton University and a columnist at The New York Times. He won the Nobel prize for economics in 2008. His book, `End this Depression Now!', argues that the present economic depression, dating from 2008, is not essentially different from other depressions, notably the Great Depression following the Wall Street crash of 1929. He argues that the experiences, actions and research of the 1930s and 1940s, augmented by recent research, has given us the tools to bring the economic situation under control. They are simply being ignored by governments in the USA, the UK and Euroland, or governments haven't the courage to do it.

He begins by outlining the tremendous costs of a prolonged depression, especially in human terms. His humanity comes through strongly, not something one normally associates with economists. For example, he notes research which shows that a graduate qualifying during a downturn has his or her whole career affected adversely, not just for the duration of the recession. Long recessions cause permanent, irretrievable losses that leave nations with weak industries and poor skill bases, unable to take full advantage of any recovery. They can lead to political extremism - look at Hungary and Greece today.

The lessons of the Great Depression are outlined. Krugman sees himself as a "sorta-kinda New Keynesian" and argues that depressions are essentially due to lack of demand. This can be counteracted effectively by government spending of particular types - infrastructure spending, mortgage debt relief, temporary higher target rates for inflation, and effective devaluation of the currency and "printing of money". He criticises the stimulus package of President Obama as being far too timid and small to be really effective. Krugman does not think debts should not be paid off, but this should be done when the economy is stronger.

His remedies mainly apply to America but there is also discussion of the UK and Europe. He is scathing about the economic policies of the coalition government. As the UK has its own currency and central bank, Krugman states that we could easily apply a stimulus package without causing a troublesome run on the currency (he talks about the "confidence fairy" in debunking the excessive weight given to "confidence" in the design of policy). He shows that such countries (the USA, Japan, the UK, Sweden) are much less prone to being at the mercy of the market compared to those in the Eurozone. He contrasts Sweden and Denmark with Finland: very similar economies but as Finland is in the Eurozone, has suffered much greater speculative pressure. However, he is much more pessimistic about the Eurozone as a whole. The individual countries do not have their own currency, nor their own central bank and this, Krugman maintains, makes all the difference. The only solution he can see is Germany enacting, for a time, strong inflationary policies - totally against the grain in that country - combined with general wage reduction in southern Europe, again not likely to happen voluntarily.

So far, so Keynesian, but the really fascinating parts of the book lie elsewhere. For example, the "paradoxes": the "Paradox of thrift", where everyone saves (and so spends less) leading to generally declining income and shrinking of the economy. The "Paradox of deleveraging" - the more debtors pay, the more they owe. And the "Paradox of flexibility" - lack of demand leads to a cut in prices e.g. for labour - in short, wage cuts. Across the board wage cuts, incomes all reduced, but debt remains the same. It is such things which really counter the usual objection - you cannot cure debt by more debt. Krugman says we need to change the metaphors used to describe the economy in slumps. He shows that in a slump, normal concepts do not apply. He likens it to being on the other side of the looking glass, and I then saw it as akin to quantum mechanics compared to Newtonian physics, or the peculiar properties of materials at extremely low temperatures, e.g. superconductivity. Certain states need ways of thinking that are superficially not logical and counter-intuitive.

Another strong theme of the book is the increasing inequality in Western societies since the early 1980s (the time of President Reagan and "Reaganomics"). Krugman sees this time as the one where the dominant economics changes from Keynesian ideas to those of the laissez-faire economists who believe that human beings are logical and markets always do the right thing. This has the ring of doctrine, not science, and Krugman mentions the messianic tendencies of some of this ilk. Keynesian ideas were seen by conservatives as the thin end of the wedge - socialism would surely follow. Keynes was certainly not a socialist.

It was the time of deregulation of the banking sector and failure to regulate the "shadow banks" and the repeal of the Glass-Steagall act (to legalise, retroactively, an illegal merger in the banking sector!) All this went hand in hand with the increasing polarisation of politics in American (and the UK). The rich, consisting of corporate executives and "financial wheeler-dealers" in the main, somehow monopolised any increase in the GDP, leaving the incomes of the vast majority flat-lining. The rich managed to do this by fixing thing to their advantage: "soft corruption" at a political level: they had and have more access to power, they are articulate and influence disproportionately. They even influenced which economists had the strongest voice: To quote Krugman:

"The preferences of university donors, the availability of fellowships and lucrative consulting contracts...must have encourages [economists] not just to turn away from Keynesian ideas but to forget much that had been learned in the 1930s and 1940s".

Not only this, but Keynesians were actively discriminated against at some universities. This could sound like a conspiracy theory but it is not a club of rich people colluding to do something. It is a myriad of such people acting in their own interest in a myriad of separate, disconnected actions. These actions carry more weight than that of "little people". There is a net vector to such actions.

He outlines the story of the housing bubble, the subprime mortgage scandal and the ludicrous idea that risk can virtually be eliminated from the financial sector by complex "instruments".

The scope of the book is far wider than one might think from the title. He outlines much of what has gone wrong in the Western democracies over the past thirty years or so. The "culture wars" in the USA, sadly spreading to our blessed isle. The disregard of experts in favour of pure ideology. The disappearance of calm but passionate political discussion in favour of ad hominem attacks. In his postscript, he says: "Tribal allegiance should have no more to do with your views about macroeconomics than with your views on, say, the theory of evolution or climate change...hmm, maybe I'd better stop right there". Who says Americans don't do irony?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Brief Summary and Review, 25 Jun. 2012
*A full executive-style summary of this book is now available at newbooksinbrief dot wordpress dot com

Since the housing and financial crash of 2008, America's economy has been stuck deep in the doldrums. Indeed, GDP has remained well beneath pre-2008 levels, and employment levels have failed to recover. In an effort to resuscitate the economy, the American government tried first to jump-start it through stimulus spending, and has now replaced this approach with greater austerity. Nothing seems to be working. For Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman, though, the answer is clear: the problem is that the original stimulus effort was too small, and, since that time, the government is moving squarely in the wrong direction. Indeed, Krugman argues that America's current situation bares a striking resemblance to the stagnation of the Great Depression, and that history has taught us what to do in such situations: the government must take an aggressive approach to stimulate the economy into recovery. This is the argument that Krugman makes in his new book `End This Depression Now!'.

Now, Krugman is not a proponent of big government spending under normal conditions. Indeed, even in a recession, Krugman's preferred approach is to drop interest rates in order to spur consumer spending. The problem now is that interest rates are already at zero, and this has not been enough to get consumer spending off the ground, thus leaving the economy in what is called a `liquidity trap'. For Krugman, the liquidity trap is actually quite common in economic downturns that follow financial crashes (as is the case with the current one, and as was the case with the Great Depression), and is why such slumps tend to be deep and prolonged.

According to Krugman, the best and surest way to save an economy from a liquidity trap is for the government to step in and undertake the spending that consumers won't. That is, the government must stimulate the economy back into action, until consumers can get back on their feet enough to take over for themselves. For Krugman, this is precisely what happened in America during WWII, when the government's military spending served to stimulate the economy and save it from the grips of the Great Depression.

Now, Krugman's opponents will point out that the American government has already tried the stimulus approach during this downturn, and that this approach did not work, thus showing that it cannot be relied upon. What's more, these same opponents argue that the government's debt is already enormous, and indeed dangerously high, and that further government spending at this point may well render the debt completely unmanageable, if not force the government into insolvency (which is indeed a threat that is currently being faced by several countries in the European Union). Finally, Krugman's detractors maintain that pumping more money into the economy at this time only threatens to drive up inflation to dangerous levels, perhaps even triggering a hyperinflationary spiral.

Krugman, though, claims that he has answers to all of these objections. In the first place, as noted above, the author maintains that the failure of the government's first stimulus effort did not prove that this approach is ineffective, but that it simply wasn't large enough to do the trick. Second, Krugman argues that though government debt does pose a concern, America's debt is actually not that dangerous by historical standards. What's more, since America has its own currency (unlike the countries of the European Union), it is able to print money to turn over its debt, thus preventing the possibility of bankruptcy. Finally, with regards to inflation, Krugman maintains that inflation simply cannot get off the ground in a depressed economy (as the current situation would attest to), and that when it is triggered in an upturn the government can always reverse its policy, thus keeping it firmly in check.

Krugman does bring up some important points that do deserve to be taken into consideration in the current economic debate. Indeed, the author does seem to make the best argument that can be made in favour of the stimulus approach. However, whether his arguments are strong enough to assuage the fears over the negative consequences that additional stimulus could provoke remains to be seen. A comprehensive summary of the main arguments in Krugman's book is now available at newbooksinbrief dot wordpress dot com.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential Reading, 17 Oct. 2012
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This is an economics book, not a polemic, and that I love. Krugman presents the case for more government spending in a short, intuitive and thorough manner.

Krugman is an American author, first and foremost, and a "can do attitude" is probably to be expected; yet for a book with such a punchy title, the proposed solution is actually the least convincing part. Krugman fails to tackle why there's value in digging up holes and filling them up again. An analysis that skirts this issue is incomplete, because the amount we'd need to spend if we follow his recommendation vastly exceeds what we can spend on sensible projects.

By means of example, I live in the UK, where the progress of the NHS under heavy Labour Party government "investment" started out in a promising way, but has ended up in what even the most fervent supporter must agree is a ton of waste that could well end up undermining the NHS itself and society overall in the medium term.

With that caveat, this book is such a good lesson in Economics that you have to own it. I had to constantly remind myself that "at some point you will have to figure out where you disagree." Krugman's deceit (and genius, let's face it) is that I had to finish the book, digest it and figure that out for myself afterwards.

Finally, if you ever thought austerity is the answer, you cannot finish this book and reasonably still hold that view. For that alone, it's a triumph.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well Argued and Easy to Read, 1 July 2012
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Paul Krugman does not pretend that this is an unbiased account of the current world economy. Instead he concentrates on establishing what he thinks the problem with the current economic situation is and how he thinks it ought to be fixed. In order to do this he examines the arguments of his opponents (The Republican Party in America and Conservative Party in the UK)and sets about demolishing them.

Krugman does a good job of explaining the economic jargon for the general reader. This makes it a reasonably easy read (considering the subject).
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting take on the crisis and the solutions required, 16 Aug. 2012
Krugman's book is surprisingly a good read where he tackles the economic situations in both the US and Europe. His analysis is heavily biased towards liberal ideology but he has the honesty to admit that it is the case, unlike many unscrupulous commentators/experts. I like the casual style of its writings and the time he spent debunking commonplace ideas linked to the discourses used since the start of the crisis.

The central idea of this book is that fiscal austerity is not the adequate response to an economy subjected to a liquidity trap, even if the latter has a huge budget deficit. As a self-confessed Keynesian, he recommends bigger, immediate and globally coordinated fiscal stimuli.

As to Europe, his opinion is clear-cut: he was skeptical, he still is and he thinks he will remain so. Its discussion of the euro zone troubles is not original in itself, but the quality of his argument combined to the harsh reality of the facts harbinger of a turbulent future for the nations using the single currency.

In brief, I might not be an economist but I enjoyed the book, I found the topics engaging and the discussions to the point.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't give up hope - something can be done!, 4 Oct. 2012
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Plenty of others have gone over the details of Krugman's arguments. But it's not a long book, and it's an easy enough read if you have any interest in economics and politics. The arguments are mostly in human behavioural terms, explaining how you and I have reacted to the crisis, and how we would react to a properly managed intervention.

His core plea that the governments do something, rather than wait for the markets (who seem to be still making money without a recovery), has some considerable resonance for those of us suffering with depressed businesses. We have been waiting four years for the recovery, and it seems years away. The optimistic tone that something could be done is somehow more reassuring than the pervasive baleful negativity of the austerity demanded by Serious People. For that alone, it is worth reading.
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