2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Stimulating 'insider' perspective on American inequality and its causes,
This review is from: The Price of Inequality (Paperback)
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. Stiglitz's book is an eye-opening analysis as to why those in the top 1% of American society are getting disproportionately richer as the 99% beneath them get poorer. Whether he's discussing how the 1%'s rent-seeking (using wealth to get more wealth without actually producing anything) distorts markets, or the way they manipulate democratic debate and legislative processes, Stiglitz amasses a wealth of supporting figures, examples and detail (there are 106 pages of endnotes).
But it isn't just that this transfer of wealth from the bottom and the middle to the top is inefficient and stifles entrepreneurship: it also distorts markets (which are anything but `free'), creates instability and further entrenches the already frighteningly deep inequalities of American society. Stiglitz's proposals for a more dirigiste approach to the economy are well-thought out, too: whether it's better corporate governance to stop CEOs enriching themselves at the expense of the company and its workers; much tighter controls over the banking sector, including offshore; tax reforms; or improving access to education and beefed-up (rather than slashed) social programs, Stiglitz talks a lot of sense. The only slight disappointment of this impressive book for me was that the author didn't turn his expert, and critical, eye more frequently on the very similar situation this side of the pond where, I suspect, there's a disturbingly similar tale to be told.