In this illustrated history, Steven Johnson explores the history of innovation over centuries, tracing facets of modern life (refrigeration, clocks, and eyeglass lenses, to name a few) from their creation by hobbyists, amateurs, and entrepreneurs to their unintended historical consequences. Filled with surprising stories of accidental genius and brilliant mistakes—from the French publisher who invented the phonograph before Edison but forgot to include playback, to the Hollywood movie star who helped invent the technology behind Wi-Fi and Bluetooth—How We Got to Now investigates the secret history behind the everyday objects of contemporary life.
In his trademark style, Johnson examines unexpected connections between seemingly unrelated fields: how the invention of air-conditioning enabled the largest migration of human beings in the history of the species—to cities such as Dubai or Phoenix, which would otherwise be virtually uninhabitable; how pendulum clocks helped trigger the industrial revolution; and how clean water made it possible to manufacture computer chips. Accompanied by a major six-part television series on PBS, How We Got to Now is the story of collaborative networks building the modern world, written in the provocative, informative, and engaging style that has earned Johnson fans around the globe.
With characteristic tenacity, John Stossel outlines and exposes the fallacies and facts of the most pressing issues of today’s social and political climate—and shows how our intuitions about them are, frankly, wrong:
• the unreliable marriage between big business, the media, and unions
• the myth of tax breaks and the ignorance of their advocates
• why “central planners” never create more jobs and how government never really will
• why free trade works—without government Interference
• federal regulations and the trouble they create for consumers
• the harm caused to the disabled by government protection of the disabled
• the problems (social and economic) generated by minimum-wage laws
• the destructive daydreams of “health insurance for everyone”
• bad food vs. good food and the government’s intrusive, unwelcome nanny sensibilities
• the dumbing down of public education and teachers’ unions
• how gun control actually increases crime
. . . and more myth-busting realities of why the American people must wrest our lives back from a government stranglehold.
Stossel also reveals how his unyielding desire to educate the public with the truth caused an irreparable rift with ABC (nobody wanted to hear the point-by- point facts of ObamaCare), and why he left his long-running stint for a new, uncensored forum with Fox. He lays out his ideas for education innovation as well and, finally, makes it perfectly clear why government action is the least effective and desirable fantasy to hang on to. As Stossel says, “It’s not about electing the right people. It’s about narrowing responsibilities.” No, They Can’t is an irrefutable first step toward that goal.
In Can America Survive? Hagee asserts that the seeds for tragedy are once again being sown, evidenced by the disturbing economic, geopolitical, and religious trends that now threaten to dismantle the very nation itself. “Think it can’t happen?” Hagee asks in a theme repeated throughout the book. “Think again.” Indeed, Hagee presents alarming examples of recent events, current research, scientific evidence, and biblical prophecy that are gathering to create a “perfect storm” that could bring down the “unsinkable” United States of America including:
The U.S.’s negligent handling of Israel, and history’s evidence of the danger to any nation that challenges Israel’s God-mandated right to exist The dangerous belittling of Iran’s nuclear threat by careless spy agencies—and the super-weapon that could stop the U.S. in its tracks instantly The chilling biblical prophecy that confirms Iran as one of six countries that will form an Islamic military force “as a cloud to cover the land” The real $2.5 trillion price tag of healthcare reform, the international currency shifts, and the national economic trends that are poised to bring about the death of the American dollar The criminalization of Christianity around the world;Can America Survive? is not just a warning. It is a wake-up call and a rallying cry to Christian citizens everywhere to prevent the next unthinkable American disaster. After all, as Hagee points out, “those who do not remember the mistakes of the past are doomed to repeat them in the future.” Think it can’t happen? Think again.
Yet Matt Ridley does more than describe how things are getting better. He explains why. Prosperity comes from everybody working for everybody else. The habit of exchange and specialization—which started more than 100,000 years ago—has created a collective brain that sets human living standards on a rising trend. The mutual dependence, trust, and sharing that result are causes for hope, not despair.
This bold book covers the entire sweep of human history, from the Stone Age to the Internet, from the stagnation of the Ming empire to the invention of the steam engine, from the population explosion to the likely consequences of climate change. It ends with a confident assertion that thanks to the ceaseless capacity of the human race for innovative change, and despite inevitable disasters along the way, the twenty-first century will see both human prosperity and natural biodiversity enhanced. Acute, refreshing, and revelatory, The Rational Optimist will change your way of thinking about the world for the better.
Is it culture, the weather, geography? Perhaps ignorance of what the right policies are?
Simply, no. None of these factors is either definitive or destiny. Otherwise, how to explain why Botswana has become one of the fastest growing countries in the world, while other African nations, such as Zimbabwe, the Congo, and Sierra Leone, are mired in poverty and violence?
Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson conclusively show that it is man-made political and economic institutions that underlie economic success (or lack of it). Korea, to take just one of their fascinating examples, is a remarkably homogeneous nation, yet the people of North Korea are among the poorest on earth while their brothers and sisters in South Korea are among the richest. The south forged a society that created incentives, rewarded innovation, and allowed everyone to participate in economic opportunities.
The economic success thus spurred was sustained because the government became accountable and responsive to citizens and the great mass of people. Sadly, the people of the north have endured decades of famine, political repression, and very different economic institutions—with no end in sight. The differences between the Koreas is due to the politics that created these completely different institutional trajectories.
Based on fifteen years of original research Acemoglu and Robinson marshall extraordinary historical evidence from the Roman Empire, the Mayan city-states, medieval Venice, the Soviet Union, Latin America, England, Europe, the United States, and Africa to build a new theory of political economy with great relevance for the big questions of today, including:
- China has built an authoritarian growth machine. Will it continue to grow at such high speed and overwhelm the West?
- Are America’s best days behind it? Are we moving from a virtuous circle in which efforts by elites to aggrandize power are resisted to a vicious one that enriches and empowers a small minority?
- What is the most effective way to help move billions of people from the rut of poverty to prosperity? More philanthropy from the wealthy nations of the West? Or learning the hard-won lessons of Acemoglu and Robinson’s breakthrough ideas on the interplay between inclusive political and economic institutions?
Why Nations Fail will change the way you look at—and understand—the world.
The United States is in the midst of an economic implosion that could make the Great Depression look like child's play. In THE CRASH OF 2016, Thom Hartmann argues that the facade of our once-great United States will soon disintegrate to reveal the rotting core where corporate and billionaire power and greed have replaced democratic infrastructure and governance. Our once-enlightened political and economic systems have been manipulated to ensure the success of only a fraction of the population at the expense of the rest of us.
The result is a "for the rich, by the rich" scheme leading to policies that only benefit the highest bidders. Hartmann outlines the destructive forces-planted by Lewis Powell in 1971 and come to fruition with the "Reagan Revolution"-that have looted our nation over the past decade, and how their actions fit into a cycle of American history that lets such forces rise to power every four generations.
However, a backlash is now palpable against the "economic royalists"-a term coined by FDR to describe those hoarding power and wealth-including the banksters, oligarchs, and politicians who have plunged our nation into economic chaos and social instability.
Although we are in the midst of what could become the most catastrophic economic crash in American History, a way forward is emerging, just as it did in the previous great crashes of the 1760s, 1856, and 1929. The choices we make now will redefine American culture. Before us stands a genuine opportunity to embrace the moral motive over the profit motive-and to rebuild the American economic model that once yielded great success.
Thoroughly researched and passionately argued, THE CRASH OF 2016 is not just a roadmap to redemption in post-Crash America, but a critical wake-up call, challenging us to act. Only if the right reforms are enacted and the moral choices are made, can we avert disaster and make our nation whole again.
A Globe and Mail Best Books of the Year 2011 Title
A Kirkus Reviews Best Nonfiction of 2011 title
Virtually all human societies were once organized tribally, yet over time most developed new political institutions which included a central state that could keep the peace and uniform laws that applied to all citizens. Some went on to create governments that were accountable to their constituents. We take these institutions for granted, but they are absent or are unable to perform in many of today's developing countries—with often disastrous consequences for the rest of the world.
Francis Fukuyama, author of the bestselling The End of History and the Last Man and one of our most important political thinkers, provides a sweeping account of how today's basic political institutions developed. The first of a major two-volume work, The Origins of Political Order begins with politics among our primate ancestors and follows the story through the emergence of tribal societies, the growth of the first modern state in China, the beginning of the rule of law in India and the Middle East, and the development of political accountability in Europe up until the eve of the French Revolution.
Drawing on a vast body of knowledge—history, evolutionary biology, archaeology, and economics—Fukuyama has produced a brilliant, provocative work that offers fresh insights on the origins of democratic societies and raises essential questions about the nature of politics and its discontents.
Joe Studwell has spent two decades as a reporter in the region, and The Financial Times said he “should be named chief myth-buster for Asian business.” In How Asia Works, Studwell distills his extensive research into the economies of nine countries—Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, Vietnam, and China—into an accessible, readable narrative that debunks Western misconceptions, shows what really happened in Asia and why, and for once makes clear why some countries have boomed while others have languished.
Studwell’s in-depth analysis focuses on three main areas: land policy, manufacturing, and finance. Land reform has been essential to the success of Asian economies, giving a kick start to development by utilizing a large workforce and providing capital for growth. With manufacturing, industrial development alone is not sufficient, Studwell argues. Instead, countries need “export discipline,” a government that forces companies to compete on the global scale. And in finance, effective regulation is essential for fostering, and sustaining growth. To explore all of these subjects, Studwell journeys far and wide, drawing on fascinating examples from a Philippine sugar baron’s stifling of reform to the explosive growth at a Korean steel mill.
Thoroughly researched and impressive in scope, How Asia Works is essential reading for anyone interested in the development of these dynamic countries, a region that will shape the future of the world.
The Spirit Level does not simply provide a diagnosis of our ills, but provides invaluable instruction in shifting the balance from self-interested consumerism to a friendlier, more collaborative society. It shows a way out of the social and environmental problems which beset us, and opens up a major new approach to improving the real quality of life, not just for the poor but for everyone. It is, in its conclusion, an optimistic book, which should revitalize politics and provide a new way of thinking about how we organize human communities.
In this shocking and groundbreaking new book, economic historian Burton W. Folsom exposes the idyllic legend of Franklin D. Roosevelt as a myth of epic proportions. With questionable moral character and a vendetta against the business elite, Roosevelt created New Deal programs marked by inconsistent planning, wasteful spending, and opportunity for political gain -- ultimately elevating public opinion of his administration but falling flat in achieving the economic revitalization that America so desperately needed from the Great Depression. Folsom takes a critical, revisionist look at Roosevelt's presidency, his economic policies, and his personal life.
Elected in 1932 on a buoyant tide of promises to balance the increasingly uncontrollable national budget and reduce the catastrophic unemployment rate, the charismatic thirty-second president not only neglected to pursue those goals, he made dramatic changes to federal programming that directly contradicted his campaign promises. Price fixing, court packing, regressive taxes, and patronism were all hidden inside the alphabet soup of his popular New Deal, putting a financial strain on the already suffering lower classes and discouraging the upper classes from taking business risks that potentially could have jostled national cash flow from dormancy. Many government programs that are widely used today have their seeds in the New Deal. Farm subsidies, minimum wage, and welfare, among others, all stifle economic growth -- encouraging decreased productivity and exacerbating unemployment.
Roosevelt's imperious approach to the presidency changed American politics forever, and as he manipulated public opinion, American citizens became unwitting accomplices to the stilted economic growth of the 1930s. More than sixty years after FDR died in office, we still struggle with the damaging repercussions of his legacy.
While sugar came to dictate imperial policy, for those on the ground the British West Indian empire presented a disturbing moral universe. Parker brilliantly interweaves the human stories of those since lost to history whose fortunes and fame rose and fell with sugar. Their industry drove the development of the North American mainland states, and with it a slave culture, as the plantation model was exported to the warm, southern states. Broad in scope, rich in detail, The Sugar Barons freshly links the histories of Europe, the West Indies, and North America and reveals the full impact of the sugar revolution, the resonance of which is still felt today.
With a new introduction by the author, this “erudite and brilliantly readable book” (The Observer, London) astutely dissects the political, economic and social origins of Western civilization to reveal a culture cripplingly enslaved to crude notions of rationality and expertise.
The Western world is full of paradoxes. We talk endlessly of individual freedom, yet we’ve never been under more pressure to conform. Our business leaders describe themselves as capitalists, yet most are corporate employees and financial speculators. We call our governments democracies, yet few of us participate in politics. We complain about invasive government, yet our legal, educational, financial, social, cultural and legislative systems are deteriorating.
All these problems, John Ralston Saul argues, are largely the result of our blind faith in the value of reason. Over the past 400 years, our “rational elites” have turned the modern West into a vast, incomprehensible, directionless machine, run by process-minded experts—“Voltaire’s bastards”—whose cult of scientific management is empty of both sense and morality. Whether in politics, art, business, the military, entertainment, science, finance, academia or journalism, these experts share the same outlook and methods. The result, Saul maintains, is a civilization of immense technological power whose ordinary citizens are increasingly excluded from the decision-making process.
In this wide-ranging anatomy of modern society and its origins—whose “pages explode with insight, style and intellectual rigor” (Camille Paglia, The Washington Post)—Saul presents a shattering critique of the political, economic and cultural establishments of the West.
Drawing on exclusive access to J.P. Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon and a tightly bonded team of bankers known on Wall Street as the “Morgan Mafia,” as well as in-depth interviews with dozens of other key players, including Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, Tett brings to life in gripping detail how the Morgan team’s bold ideas for a whole new kind of financial alchemy helped to ignite a revolution in banking, and how that revolution escalated wildly out of control.
The deeply reported and lively narrative takes readers behind the scenes, to the inner sanctums of elite finance and to the secretive reaches of what came to be known as the “shadow banking” world. The story begins with the intense Morgan brainstorming session in 1994 beside a pool in Boca Raton, where the team cooked up a dazzling new idea for the exotic financial product known as credit derivatives. That idea would rip around the banking world, catapult Morgan to the top of the turbocharged derivatives trade, and fuel an extraordinary banking boom that seemed to have unleashed banks from ages-old constraints of risk.
But when the Morgan team’s derivatives dream collided with the housing boom, and was perverted—through hubris, delusion, and sheer greed—by titans of banking that included Citigroup, UBS, Deutsche Bank, and the thundering herd at Merrill Lynch—even as J.P. Morgan itself stayed well away from the risky concoctions others were peddling—catastrophe followed. Tett’s access to Dimon and the J.P. Morgan leaders who so skillfully steered their bank away from the wild excesses of others sheds invaluable light not only on the untold story of how they engineered their bank’s escape from carnage but also on how possible it was for the larger banking world, regulators, and rating agencies to have spotted, and heeded, the terrible risks of a meltdown.
A tale of blistering brilliance and willfully blind ambition, Fool’s Gold is both a rare journey deep inside the arcane and wildly competitive world of high finance and a vital contribution to understanding how the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression was perpetrated.
Thing 1: There is no such thing as free market.
Thing 4: The washing machine has changed the world more than the Internet.
Thing 5: Assume the worst about people, and you get the worst.
Thing 13: Making rich people richer doesn't make the rest of us richer.
If you've wondered how we did not see the economic collapse coming,
Ha-Joon Chang knows the answer: We didn't ask what they didn't tell us
about capitalism. This is a lighthearted book with a serious purpose: to
question the assumptions behind the dogma and sheer hype that the
dominant school of neoliberal economists-the apostles of the
freemarket-have spun since the Age of Reagan.
Chang, the author of the international bestseller Bad Samaritans,
is one of the world's most respected economists, a voice of sanity-and
wit-in the tradition of John Kenneth Galbraith and Joseph Stiglitz. 23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism
equips readers with an understanding of how global capitalism works-and
doesn't. In his final chapter, "How to Rebuild the World," Chang offers
a vision of how we can shape capitalism to humane ends, instead of
becoming slaves of the market.
THE UNITED STATES TAX CODE HAS UNDERGONE NO SERIOUS REFORM SINCE 1986. Since then, loopholes, exemptions, credits, and deductions have distorted its clarity, increased its inequity, and frustrated our ability to govern ourselves. By tracing the history of our own tax system and assessing the way other countries have solved similar problems, Bruce Bartlett explores the surprising answers to all these issues, giving a sense of the tax code’s many benefits—and its inevitable burdens. From one of the most respected political and economic thinkers, advisers, and writers of our time, The Benefit and the Burden is a thoughtful and surprising argument for American tax reform.
The crisis was partly a failure of mathematical modeling. But even more, it was a failure of some very sophisticated financial institutions to think like physicists. Models—whether in science or finance—have limitations; they break down under certain conditions. And in 2008, sophisticated models fell into the hands of people who didn’t understand their purpose, and didn’t care. It was a catastrophic misuse of science.
The solution, however, is not to give up on models; it's to make them better. Weatherall reveals the people and ideas on the cusp of a new era in finance. We see a geophysicist use a model designed for earthquakes to predict a massive stock market crash. We discover a physicist-run hedge fund that earned 2,478.6% over the course of the 1990s. And we see how an obscure idea from quantum theory might soon be used to create a far more accurate Consumer Price Index.
Both persuasive and accessible, The Physics of Wall Street is riveting history that will change how we think about our economic future.
We’re used to thinking of the United States in opposing terms: red versus blue, haves versus have-nots. But today there are three Americas. At one extreme are the brain hubs—cities like San Francisco, Boston, and Durham—with workers who are among the most productive, creative, and best paid on the planet. At the other extreme are former manufacturing capitals, which are rapidly losing jobs and residents. The rest of America could go either way. For the past thirty years, the three Americas have been growing apart at an accelerating rate. This divergence is one the most important developments in the history of the United States and is reshaping the very fabric of our society, affecting all aspects of our lives, from health and education to family stability and political engagement. But the winners and losers aren’t necessarily who you’d expect.
Enrico Moretti’s groundbreaking research shows that you don’t have to be a scientist or an engineer to thrive in one of the brain hubs. Carpenters, taxi-drivers, teachers, nurses, and other local service jobs are created at a ratio of five-to-one in the brain hubs, raising salaries and standard of living for all. Dealing with this split—supporting growth in the hubs while arresting the decline elsewhere—is the challenge of the century, and The New Geography of Jobs lights the way.
"Moretti has written a clear and insightful account of the economic forces that are shaping America and its regions, and he rightly celebrates human capital and innovation as the fundamental sources of economic development."—Jonathan Rothwell, The Brookings Institution
Blending vivid reporting from the 2012 campaign trail and deep perspective from decades covering American and international media and politics, political journalist John Nichols and media critic Robert W. McChesney explain how US elections are becoming controlled, predictable enterprises that are managed by a new class of consultants who wield millions of dollars and define our politics as never before. As the money gets bigger—especially after the Citizens United ruling—and journalism, a core check and balance on the government, declines, American citizens are in danger of becoming less informed and more open to manipulation. With groundbreaking behind-the-scenes reporting and staggering new research on “the money power,” Dollarocracy shows that this new power does not just endanger electoral politics; it is a challenge to the DNA of American democracy itself.
Robert Bennett, chairman of the Ohio Republican Party
One of the enduring legacies of the 2012 Presidential campaign was the demise of the white American male voter as a dominant force in the political landscape. On election night, after Obama was announced the winner, a distressed Bill O'Reilly lamented that he didn't live in “a traditional America anymore.” He was joined by others who bellowed their grief on the talk radio airwaves, the traditional redoubt of angry white men. Why were they so angry? Sociologist Michael Kimmel, one of the leading writers on men and masculinity in the world today, has spent hundreds of hours in the company of America's angry white men – from white supremacists to men's rights activists to young students –in pursuit of an answer. Angry White Men presents a comprehensive diagnosis of their fears, anxieties, and rage.
Kimmel locates this increase in anger in the seismic economic, social and political shifts that have so transformed the American landscape. Downward mobility, increased racial and gender equality, and a tenacious clinging to an anachronistic ideology of masculinity has left many men feeling betrayed and bewildered. Raised to expect unparalleled social and economic privilege, white men are suffering today from what Kimmel calls "aggrieved entitlement": a sense that those benefits that white men believed were their due have been snatched away from them.
Angry White Men discusses, among others, the sons of small town America, scarred by underemployment and wage stagnation. When America's white men feel they've lived their lives the ‘right' way – worked hard and stayed out of trouble – and still do not get economic rewards, then they have to blame somebody else. Even more terrifying is the phenomenon of angry young boys. School shootings in the United States are not just the work of “misguided youth” or “troubled teens”—they're all committed by boys. These alienated young men are transformed into mass murderers by a sense that using violence against others is their right.
The future of America is more inclusive and diverse. The choice for angry white men is not whether or not they can stem the tide of history: they cannot. Their choice is whether or not they will be dragged kicking and screaming into that inevitable future, or whether they will walk openly and honorably – far happier and healthier incidentally – alongside those they've spent so long trying to exclude.
What is money, and how does it work? In this tour de force of political, cultural and economic history, Felix Martin challenges nothing less than our conventional understanding of money. He describes how the Western idea of money emerged from interactions between Mesopotamia and ancient Greece and was shaped over the centuries by tensions between sovereigns and the emerging middle classes. He explores the extraordinary diversity of the world’s monetary systems, from the Pacific island of Yap, where value was once measured by immovable stones, to the currency of today that exists solely on globally connected computer screens. Martin shows that money has always been a deeply political instrument, and that it is our failure to remember this that led to the crisis in our financial system and so to the Great Recession. He concludes with practical solutions to our current pressing, money-based problems.
Money skips nimbly among such far-ranging topics as John Locke’s disastrous excursion into economic policy, Montesquieu’s faith in finance to discipline the power of kings, the social organization of ancient Sparta and the Soviet Union’s ill-fated attempt to abolish money and banking altogether. Throughout, Martin makes vivid sense of a chaotic and sometimes incoherent system—the everyday currency that we all share—in the clearest and most stimulating terms. This is a magisterial work of history and economics, with profound implications for the world today.
Today's superclass has achieved unprecedented levels of wealth and power. They have globalized more rapidly than any other group. But do they have more in common with one another than with their own countrymen, as nationalist critics have argued? They control globalization more than anyone else. But has their influence fed the growing economic and social inequity that divides the world? What happens behind closeddoor meetings in Davos or aboard corporate jets at 41,000 feet? Conspiracy or collaboration? Deal-making or idle self-indulgence? What does the rise of Asia and Latin America mean for the conventional wisdom that shapes our destinies? Who sets the rules for a group that operates beyond national laws?
Drawn from scores of exclusive interviews and extensive original reporting, Superclass answers all of these questions and more. It draws back the curtain on a privileged society that most of us know little about, even though it profoundly affects our everyday lives. It is the first in-depth examination of the connections between the global communities of leaders who are at the helm of every major enterprise on the planet and control its greatest wealth. And it is an unprecedented examination of the trends within the superclass, which are likely to alter our politics, our institutions, and the shape of the world in which we live.
—New York Times
An international bestseller, The Miracle by business journalist Michael Schuman offers a fascinating exploration of the most meaningful and far-reaching global event since World War II: the economic ascent of the Asian continent. CNN’s Wolf Blitzer calls The Miracle, “An amazing story and it’s all true,” while the New York Times praises Schuman for being, “not just a skilled reporter [but] also a gifted journalistic storyteller.” The Miracle is essential reading for anyone who truly wants to understand today’s—and tomorrow’s—world.
In a feat of daring reportage, Potter gets onto the flight deck with these outlaws and tells the story of their fearless missions. Dodging gunfire, Potter is taken from place to place by men trafficking everything from illicit weapons to emergency aid, making enemies everywhere but no reliable friends. As the world changes, we see the options for the crew first explode, then slowly diminish, until, in a desperate maneuver, they move their operations to the most lawless corners of Africa, where they operate to this day.
The story of these outlaws is a microcosm of the world since the end of the cold war: secret contracts, guerrilla foreign policy, and conflicts too thorny to be handled in public. Potter uses the story of these men to articulate an underground history of the globalized world. At once thrilling, provocative, and morally circumspect, this book is a must-read for anyone with an interest in espionage, or in how the world works today.
Widely respected for his Newsweek and Slate coverage of the crash and the recovery, Daniel Gross shows that much of the talk about decline is misplaced. In the wake of the crash, rather than accept the inevitability of a Japan-style lost decade, America’s businesses and institutions tapped into the very strengths that built the nation’s economy into a global powerhouse in the first place: speed, ingenuity, adaptability, pragmatism, entrepreneurship, and, most significant, an ability to engage with the world. As the United States wallowed in self-pity, the world continued to see promise in what America has to offer—buying exports, investing in the United States, and adopting American companies and business models as their own. Global growth, it turns out, is not a zero-sum game.
Better, Stronger, Faster is an account of the remarkable reconstruction and reorientation that started in March 2009, a period that Gross compares to March 1933—as both marked the start of unexpected recoveries. As the U.S. public sector undertook aggressive fiscal and monetary actions, the private sector sprang into action. Companies large and small restructured, tapped into long-dormant internal resources, and invested for growth, at home and abroad. Between 2009 and 2011, as Europe struggled with a cascade of crises, the U.S. got back on its feet—and began to run.
Through stories of innovative solutions devised by policy makers, businesses, investors, and consumers, Gross explains how America has the potential to emerge from this period, not as the unrivaled ruler of the global economy but as a healthier leader and an enabler of sustainable growth.
A Vermeer painting shows a military officer in a Dutch sitting room, talking to a laughing girl. In another canvas, fruit spills from a blue-and-white porcelain bowl. Familiar images that captivate us with their beauty--but as Timothy Brook shows us, these intimate pictures actually give us a remarkable view of an expanding world. The officer's dashing hat is made of beaver fur from North America, and it was beaver pelts from America that financed the voyages of explorers seeking routes to China-prized for the porcelains so often shown in Dutch paintings of this time, including Vermeer's. In this dazzling history, Timothy Brook uses Vermeer's works, and other contemporary images from Europe, Asia, and the Americas to trace the rapidly growing web of global trade, and the explosive, transforming, and sometimes destructive changes it wrought in the age when globalization really began.
Bestselling author Clyde Prestowitz reveals the astonishing extent of the erosion of the fundamental pillars of American economic might—beginning well before the 2008 financial crisis—and the great challenge we face for the future in competing with the economic juggernaut of China and the other fast-rising economies. As the arresting facts he introduces show, the U.S. is rapidly losing the basis of its wealth and power, as well as its freedom of action and independence. If we do not make dramatic changes quickly, we will confront a painful permanent slide in our standard of living; the dollar will no longer be the world’s currency; our military strength will be whittled away; and we will be increasingly subject to the will of China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and various malcontents.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. As Prestowitz shows in a masterful account of how we’ve come to this fateful juncture, we have inflicted our economic decline on ourselves—we abandoned the extraordinary approach to growth that drove the country’s remarkable rise to superpower status from the early days of the republic up through World War II. For most of our history, we supported our home industries, protected our market against unfair trade, made the world’s finest products—leading the way in technological innovation—and we were strong savers. But in the post-WWII era, we reversed course as our leadership embraced a set of simplistically attractive but disastrously false ideas—that consumption rather than production should drive our economy; that free trade is always a win-win; that all globalization is good; that the market is always right and government regulation or intervention in the economy always causes more harm than good; and that it didn’t matter that our factories were fleeing overseas because we were moving to the "higher ground" of services. In a devastating account, Prestowitz shows just how flawed this orthodoxy is and how it has gutted the American economy. The 2008 financial crisis was only its most blatant and recent consequence.
It is time to abandon these false doctrines and to get back to the American way of growth that brought us to world leadership; Prestowitz presents a deeply researched and powerful set of highly practical steps that we can begin implementing immediately to reverse course and restore our economic leadership and excellence.
The Betrayal of American Prosperity is vital reading for all Americans concerned about the future of the economy and of our power in the coming era.
InEscape Velocity Geoffrey A. Moore, author of the marketing masterwork Crossingthe Chasm, teaches twenty-first century enterprises how to overcome thepull of the past and reorient their organizations to meet a new era ofcompetition. The world’s leading high-tech business strategist, Moore connectsthe dots between bold strategies and effective execution, with an action planthat elucidates the link between senior executives and every other branch of acompany. For readers of Larry Bossidy’s Execution,Clay Christensen’s Innovator’s Solution, and Gary Vaynerchuck’sCrush It!, and for anyone aiming for the pinnacle of business success, EscapeVelocity is an irreplaceable roadmap to the top.
—Paul Krugman, New York Times Book Review
“Fox makes business history thrilling.”
—St. Louis Post-Dispatch
A lively history of ideas, The Myth of the Rational Market by former Time Magazine economics columnist Justin Fox, describes with insight and wit the rise and fall of the world’s most influential investing idea: the efficient markets theory. Both a New York Times bestseller and Notable Book of the Year—longlisted for the Financial Times Business Book of the Year Award and named one of Library Journal Best Business Books of the Year—The Myth of the Rational Market carries readers from the earliest days of Wall Street to the current financial crisis, debunking the long-held myth that the stock market is always right in the process while intelligently exploring the replacement theory of behavioral economics.
about it, because the prospect of bringing it under control is
unimaginable. We consider it a national liability and fear our children
will be forced to pay for our current excesses. John Steele Gordon is a
welcome antidote. In 1997, his book, Hamilton's Blessing, offered a
"biography" of the debt, making it very much a human drama while
explaining the myriad, mostly positive, ways it has influenced America's
history since Alexander Hamilton first proposed the virtues of a
national debt in 1792.
However, the 12 years since the book's
initial publication have been perhaps the most dramatic in the debt's
history-since it has more than doubled and continues on an ever-upward
spiral. Now, more than ever, we need John Steele Gordon's wisdom-his
revised and expanded edition of Hamilton's Blessing will put this
historic expansion in perspective, allowing us to better participate in
debate and discussion.
Bringing a remarkable national
institution to life, Gordon offers, in the process, an original view of
American history, and insight into both well- and lesser-known figures
who have influenced and charted our voyage, from Hamilton to Jay Cooke
to John Maynard Keynes to the present. The national debt helped rescue
the Union during the Civil War and raise the nation out of the
Depression-thus offering hope it may serve a similar purpose in the
decades to come.
Drawing on a wealth of primary and secondary sources, Egnal shows that between 1820 and 1850, patterns of trade and production drew the North and South together and allowed sectional leaders to broker a series of compromises. After midcentury, however, all that changed as the rise of the Great Lakes economy reoriented Northern trade along east-west lines. Meanwhile, in the South, soil exhaustion, concerns about the country's westward expansion, and growing ties between the Upper South and the free states led many cotton planters to contemplate secession. The war that ensued was truly a "clash of extremes."
Sweeping from the 1820s through Reconstruction and filled with colorful portraits of leading individuals, Clash of Extremes emphasizes economics while giving careful consideration to social conflicts, ideology, and the rise of the antislavery movement. The result is a bold reinterpretation that will challenge the way we think about the Civil War.
Enter James K. Galbraith, the iconoclastic economist. In this riveting book, Galbraith first dissects the stale remains of Reaganism and shows how Bush and company had no choice except to dump them into the trash. He then explores the true nature of the Bush regime: a "corporate republic," bringing the methods and mentality of big business to public life; a coalition of lobbies, doing the bidding of clients in the oil, mining, military, pharmaceutical, agribusiness, insurance, and media industries; and a predator state, intent not on reducing government but rather on diverting public cash into private hands. In plain English, the Republican Party has been hijacked by political leaders who long since stopped caring if reality conformed to their message.
Galbraith follows with an impertinent question: if conservatives no longer take free markets seriously, why should liberals? Why keep liberal thought in the straitjacket of pay-as-you-go, of assigning inflation control to the Federal Reserve, of attempting to "make markets work"? Why not build a new economic policy based on what is really happening in this country?
The real economy is not a free-market economy. It is a complex combination of private and public institutions, including Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, higher education, the housing finance system, and a vast federal research establishment. The real problems and challenges -- inequality, climate change, the infrastructure deficit, the subprime crisis, and the future of the dollar -- are problems that cannot be solved by incantations about the market. They will be solved only with planning, with standards and other policies that transcend and even transform markets.
A timely, provocative work whose message will endure beyond this election season, The Predator State will appeal to the broad audience of thoughtful Americans who wish to understand the forces at work in our economy and culture and who seek to live in a nation that is both prosperous and progressive.
The importance of money in our lives is readily apparent to everyone--rich, poor, and in between. However grudgingly, most of us accept the expression "Money makes the world go round" as a universal truth. We are all aware of the power of money--how it influences our moods, compels us to take risks, and serves as the yardstick of success in societies around the world. Yet because we take the daily reality of money so completely for granted, we seldom question how and why it has come to play such a central role in our lives.
In Coined: The Rich Life of Money And How Its History Has Shaped Us, author Kabir Sehgal casts aside our workaday assumptions about money and takes the reader on a global quest to uncover a deeper understanding of the relationship between money and humankind. More than a mere history of its subject, Coined probes the conceptual origins and evolution of money by examining it through the multiple lenses of disciplines as varied as biology, psychology, anthropology, and theology. Coined is not only a profoundly informative discussion of the concept of money, but it is also an endlessly fascinating and entertaining take on the nature of humanity and the inner workings of the mind.
Now, in this new and completely updated edition of Wealth and Poverty, Gilder compares America’s current economic challenges with her past economic problems–particularly those of the late 1970s–and explains why Obama’s big-government, redistributive policies are doing more harm than good for the poor.
Making the case that supply-side economics and free market policies are–and always will be–the answer to decreasing America’s poverty rate and increasing her prosperity, Wealth & Poverty offers solutions to America’s current economic problems and hope to those who fear that our best days are behind us.
Sounding the alarm about the increasing gap between reality and "conventional wisdom" -- a phrase he coined -- Galbraith tells, along with much else, how we have reached a point where the private sector has unprecedented control over the public sector. We have given ourselves over to self-serving belief and "contrived nonsense" or, more simply, fraud. This has come at the expense of the economy, effective government, and the business world.
Particularly noted is the central power of the corporation and the shift in authority from shareholders and board members to management. In an intense exercise of fraud, the pretense of shareholder power is still maintained, even with the immediate participants. In fact, because of the scale and complexity of the modern corporation, decisive power must go to management. From management and its own inevitable self-interest, power extends deeply into government -- the so-called public sector. This is particularly and dangerously the case in such matters as military policy, the environment, and, needless to say, taxation. Nevertheless, there remains the firm reference to the public sector.
How can fraud be innocent? In his inimitable style, Galbraith offers the answer. His taut, wry, and severe comment is essential reading for everyone who cares about America's future. This book is especially relevant in an election year, but it deeply concerns the much longer future.
In Twelve Steps to Political Revelation, Mosley outlines a guide to recovery from oppression. First we must identify the problems that surround us. Next we must actively work together to create a just, more holistic society. And finally, power must be returned to the embrace of the people.
Challenging and original, Recovery confronts both self-understanding and how we define ourselves in relation to others.
A hundred years ago, many theorists believed-just as they did at the beginning of our twenty-first century-that the world had reached a state of economic perfection, a never before seen human interdependence that would lead to universal growth and prosperity. Then, as now, the German mark was one of the most trusted currencies in the world. Yet the early years of the Weimar Republic in Germany witnessed the most calamitous meltdown of a developed economy in modern times. The Downfall of Money will tell anew the dramatic story of the hyperinflation that saw the mark-worth 4.2 to the dollar in 1914-plunge until it traded at over 4 trillion to 1 by the autumn of 1923.
The story of the Weimar Republic's financial crisis clearly resonates today, when the world is again anxious about what money is, what it means, and how we can judge if its value is true. It is a trajectory of events uncomfortably relevant for our own uncertain world.
Frederick Taylor-one of the leading historians of Germany writing today- explores the causes of the crisis and what the collapse meant to ordinary people and traces its connection to the dark decades that followed. Drawing on a wide range of sources and accessibly presenting vast amounts of research, The Downfall of Money is a timely and chilling exploration of a haunting episode in history.
Beginning by shattering our fetish for GDP, What's the Economy For, Anyway? offers a fresh perspective on quality of life, health, security, work-life balance, leisure, social justice, and perhaps most important, sustainability. This sparkling, message-driven book is exactly what those lost in the doldrums of partisan sniping and a sluggish economy need: a guide to what really matters, and a map to using America's resources to make the world a better place.
Law soon engineered the revival of the French economy and found himself one of the most powerful men in Europe. In August 1717, he founded the Mississippi Company, and the Court granted him the right to trade in France's vast territory in America. The shareholders in his new trading company made such enormous profits that the term "millionaire" was coined to describe them. Paris was soon in a frenzy of speculation, conspiracies, and insatiable consumption. Before this first boom-and-bust cycle was complete, markets throughout Europe crashed, the mob began calling for Law's head, and his visionary ideas about what money could do were abandoned and forgotten.
In Millionaire, Janet Gleeson lucidly reconstructs this epic drama where fortunes were made and lost, paupers grew rich, and lords fell into penury -- and a modern fiscal philosophy was born. Her enthralling tragicomic tale reveals two great characters: John Law, with his complex personality and inscrutable motives, and money itself, whose true nature even to this day remains elusive.
As Eric Hobsbawm argues in his acute and elegant introduction to this modern edition, in such times The Communist Manifesto emerges as a work of great prescience and power despite being written over a century and a half ago. He highlights Marx and Engels’s enduring insights into the capitalist system: its devastating impact on all aspects of human existence; its susceptibility to enormous convulsions and crises; and its fundamental weakness.
Examining a series of El Niño-induced droughts and the famines that they spawned around the globe in the last third of the 19th century, Mike Davis discloses the intimate, baleful relationship between imperial arrogance and natural incident that combined to produce some of the worst tragedies in human history.
Late Victorian Holocausts focuses on three zones of drought and subsequent famine: India, Northern China; and Northeastern Brazil. All were affected by the same global climatic factors that caused massive crop failures, and all experienced brutal famines that decimated local populations. But the effects of drought were magnified in each case because of singularly destructive policies promulgated by different ruling elites.
Davis argues that the seeds of underdevelopment in what later became known as the Third World were sown in this era of High Imperialism, as the price for capitalist modernization was paid in the currency of millions of peasants’ lives.
The philosophies of John Stuart Mill were well-received in the author’s lifetime during the mid-nineteenth century, and On Liberty is still an essential treatise in the fields of philosophy and political science.
HarperTorch brings great works of non-fiction and the dramatic arts to life in digital format, upholding the highest standards in ebook production and celebrating reading in all its forms. Look for more titles in the HarperTorch collection to build your digital library.
In short, it is the story of what makes us human.
In What Caused the Financial Crisis leading economists and scholars delve into the major causes of the worst financial collapse since the Great Depression and, together, present a comprehensive picture of the factors that led to it. One essay examines the role of government regulation in expanding home ownership through mortgage subsidies for impoverished borrowers, encouraging the subprime housing bubble. Another explores how banks were able to securitize mortgages by manipulating criteria used for bond ratings. How this led to inaccurate risk assessments that could not be covered by sufficient capital reserves mandated under the Basel accords is made clear in a third essay. Other essays identify monetary policy in the United States and Europe, corporate pay structures, credit-default swaps, banks' leverage, and financial deregulation as possible causes of the crisis.
With contributions from Richard A. Posner, Vernon L. Smith, Joseph E. Stiglitz, and John B. Taylor, among others, What Caused the Financial Crisis provides a cogent, comprehensive, and credible explanation of why the crisis happened. It will be an essential resource for scholars and students of finance, economics, history, law, political science, and sociology, as well as others interested in the financial crisis and the nature of modern capitalism and regulation.
Noted scholar and finance expert Silber draws on hours of candid personal interviews and complete access to Volcker's personal papers to render dramatic behind-the-scenes accounts from Volcker's career at the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve: secret negotiations with European ministers; confrontations with the White House; crisis conferences with Wall Street titans, and even tense boardroom rebellions within the Fed itself. Filled with frank commentary from Volcker himself-including why he was personally irked with the "Volcker Rule" label-this will be the definitive account of Volcker's indispensable role in American economic history.
The genuine prosperity of the preceding two decades slowly morphed into a false sense of wealth, brought about by excessive dependence on credit by both the public and private sector. When the credit bubble burst, the economy collapsed. In short, policy makers dismissed sound classical economics and instead relied on the false promise of Keynesianism, the theory that the government itself can generate prosperity through easy credit and heavy government spending.
Offering enlightening answers in an uncertain time, The Great Money Binge not only traces the failures of Keynesian policies and past administrations, but outlines a clear, authoritative solution: a return to supply-side economics and a rejection of the trendy but ultimately disastrous stimulus packages, which only lead to a new era of inflation and global depression.
The ideas of John Maynard Keynes inspired the New Deal and helped rebuild world economies after World War II -and were later dismissed as "depression economics." Then came the great meltdown of 2008. Market forces that the world relied on suddenly failed to self-correct-and Keynes's doctrine of corrective action in an imperfect world became more relevant than ever.
Keynes was not a traditional economist: He was a polemicist, iconoclastic public intellectual, peer of the realm, and political operative, as well as an openly homosexual Bohemian who befriended Virginia Woolf and E. M. Forster. In Keynes, noted historian Peter Clarke provides a timely and masterful accounting of Keynes's life and work, bringing his genius and skepticism alive for an era fraught with economic difficulties that he surely would have relished solving.
The attacks on September 11th, 2001, shook the rich West out of its complacency; suddenly, peace looked to be in peril. Even before that time prosperity was endangered, as campaigns mounted against the purported evils of capitalist globalization, such as inequality, pollution, and financial instability, and as America's high-tech stockmarket boom turned to bust. Yet, in the decade following the end of the Cold War, prospects had looked so rosy, with peace prevailing among the world's great powers, with billions of people joining the world market economy, and with great waves of technological change driving economies forwards.
What to make of such confusion and disappointment? What will the 21st century be like now? Bill Emmott, editor of the world's leading current affairs weekly, The Economist, argues that the best way to think about the future is to look back at the past, at the forces that have shaped our world and at what they tell us about the things that really matter in determining whether we are at peace or at war, in a state of liberty or repression, in a period of prosperity or of depression. From the twentieth century we can learn that two questions matter above all others: Will America continue to lead the world and to protect its peace? And will we continue to accept capitalism, with all its strengths and weaknesses, or will it be challenged once again? Bill Emmott's 20:21 Vision provides the answers that matter for all our lives in the twenty-first century.
England. A century ago, give or take a few years.
An England where people who are wicked in thought or deed are marked by the Smoke that pours forth from their bodies, a sign of their fallen state. The aristocracy do not smoke, proof of their virtue and right to rule, while the lower classes are drenched in sin and soot. An England utterly strange and utterly real.
An elite boarding school where the sons of the wealthy are groomed to take power as their birthright. Teachers with mysterious ties to warring political factions at the highest levels of government. Three young people who learn everything they’ve been taught is a lie - knowledge that could cost them their lives. A grand estate where secrets lurk in attic rooms and hidden laboratories. A love triangle. A desperate chase. Revolutionaries and secret police. Religious fanatics and coldhearted scientists. Murder. A London filled with danger and wonder. A tortured relationship between a mother and a daughter, and a mother and a son. Unexpected villains and unexpected heroes. Cool reason versus passion. Rich versus poor. Right versus wrong, though which is which isn’t clear.
This is the world of Smoke, a narrative tour de force, a tale of Dickensian intricacy and ferocious imaginative power, richly atmospheric and intensely suspenseful.
Stacy Carlson, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson's speechwriter, takes you inside the Treasury Department and explains the events and issues in a wry, personal narrative. You want to understand what brought us to the brink of collapse? After reading You, Me & the U.S. Economy, you will.
With clarity and humor, Stacy explains the multiple causes of our financial, housing and economic troubles and the multiple attempts to solve them. She isn't a financial wizard and writes so other non-wizards can understand, too. Wrapped within is her story of faith and persistence in a new, mid-life career and as a silent witness to tremendous turmoil, You, Me & the U.S. Economy tells Main Street what really happened and why. Finally.