Central to the very idea of America is the principle that we are a nation of opportunity. But over the last quarter century we have seen a disturbing “opportunity gap” emerge. We Americans have always believed that those who have talent and try hard will succeed, but this central tenet of the American Dream seems no longer true or at the least, much less true than it was.
In Our Kids, Robert Putnam offers a personal and authoritative look at this new American crisis, beginning with the example of his high school class of 1959 in Port Clinton, Ohio. The vast majority of those students went on to lives better than those of their parents. But their children and grandchildren have faced diminishing prospects. Putnam tells the tale of lessening opportunity through poignant life stories of rich, middle class, and poor kids from cities and suburbs across the country, brilliantly blended with the latest social-science research.
“A truly masterful volume” (Financial Times), Our Kids provides a disturbing account of the American dream that is “thoughtful and persuasive” (The Economist). Our Kids offers a rare combination of individual testimony and rigorous evidence: “No one can finish this book and feel complacent about equal opportunity” (The New York Times Book Review).
Drawing on vast new data that reveal Americans' changing behavior, Putnam shows how we have become increasingly disconnected from one another and how social structures -- whether they be PTA, church, or political parties -- have disintegrated. Until the publication of this groundbreaking work, no one had so deftly diagnosed the harm that these broken bonds have wreaked on our physical and civic health, nor had anyone exalted their fundamental power in creating a society that is happy, healthy, and safe.
Like defining works from the past, such as The Lonely Crowd and The Affluent Society, and like the works of C. Wright Mills and Betty Friedan, Putnam's Bowling Alone has identified a central crisis at the heart of our society and suggests what we can do.
Challenging standard views that basic economic forces were behind postwar Europe's success, Eichengreen shows how Western Europe in particular inherited a set of institutions singularly well suited to the economic circumstances that reigned for almost three decades. Economic growth was facilitated by solidarity-centered trade unions, cohesive employers' associations, and growth-minded governments--all legacies of Europe's earlier history. For example, these institutions worked together to mobilize savings, finance investment, and stabilize wages.
However, this inheritance of economic and social institutions that was the solution until around 1973--when Europe had to switch from growth based on brute-force investment and the acquisition of known technologies to growth based on increased efficiency and innovation--then became the problem.
Thus, the key questions for the future are whether Europe and its constituent nations can now adapt their institutions to the needs of a globalized knowledge economy, and whether in doing so, the continent's distinctive history will be an obstacle or an asset.
In Better Together, Putnam and longtime civic activist Lewis Feldstein describe some of the diverse locations and most compelling ways in which civic renewal is taking place today. In response to civic crises and local problems, they say, hardworking, committed people are reweaving the social fabric all across America, often in innovative ways that may turn out to be appropriate for the twenty-first century.
Better Together is a book of stories about people who are building communities to solve specific problems. The examples Putnam and Feldstein describe span the country from big cities such as Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Chicago to the Los Angeles suburbs, small Mississippi and Wisconsin towns, and quiet rural areas. The projects range from the strictly local to that of the men and women of UPS, who cover the nation. Bowling Alone looked at America from a broad and general perspective. Better Together takes us into Catherine Flannery's Roxbury, Massachusetts, living room, a UPS loading dock in Greensboro, North Carolina, a Philadelphia classroom, the Portsmouth, New Hampshire, naval shipyard, and a Bay Area Web site.
We meet activists driven by their visions, each of whom has chosen to succeed by building community: Mexican Americans in the Rio Grande Valley who want paved roads, running water, and decent schools; Harvard University clerical workers searching for respect and improved working conditions; Waupun, Wisconsin, schoolchildren organizing to improve safety at a local railroad crossing; and merchants in Tupelo, Mississippi, joining with farmers to improve their economic status. As the stories in Better Together demonstrate, bringing people together by building on personal relationships remains one of the most effective strategies to enhance America's social health.
Unique among nations, America is deeply religious, religiously diverse, and remarkably tolerant. But in recent decades the nation’s religious landscape has been reshaped.
America has experienced three seismic shocks, say Robert Putnam and David Campbell. In the 1960s, religious observance plummeted. Then in the 1970s and 1980s, a conservative reaction produced the rise of evangelicalism and the Religious Right. Since the 1990s, however, young people, turned off by that linkage between faith and conservative politics, have abandoned organized religion. The result has been a growing polarization—the ranks of religious conservatives and secular liberals have swelled, leaving a dwindling group of religious moderates in between. At the same time, personal interfaith ties are strengthening. Interfaith marriage has increased while religious identities have become more fluid. Putnam and Campbell show how this denser web of personal ties brings surprising interfaith tolerance, notwithstanding the so-called culture wars.
American Grace is based on two of the most comprehensive surveys ever conducted on religion and public life in America. It includes a dozen in-depth profiles of diverse congregations across the country, which illuminate how the trends described by Putnam and Campbell affect the lives of real Americans.
Nearly every chapter of American Grace contains a surprise about American religious life. Among them:
• Between one-third and one-half of all American marriages are interfaith;
• Roughly one-third of Americans have switched religions at some point in their lives;
• Young people are more opposed to abortion than their parents but more accepting of gay marriage;
• Even fervently religious Americans believe that people of other faiths can go to heaven;
• Religious Americans are better neighbors than secular Americans: more generous with their time and treasure even for secular causes—but the explanation has less to do with faith than with their communities of faith;
• Jews are the most broadly popular religious group in America today.
American Grace promises to be the most important book in decades about American religious life and an essential book for understanding our nation today.
The contributors explore adjustment, liquidity, and transmission under the System; the way it affected developing countries; and the role of the International Monetary Fund in maintaining a stable rate. The authors examine the reasons for the System's success and eventual collapse, compare it to subsequent monetary regimes, such as the European Monetary System, and address the possibility of a new fixed exchange rate for today's world.
Eichengreen describes the various international monetary arrangements with which policymakers have experimented in the past. He introduces the requirements that an international monetary system must satisfy and illustrates how these requirements have been met over time. He analyzes which preconditions for the smooth operation of international monetary systems in the past will be impossible to achieve in the next century and creates a list of feasible options for future policymakers.
These feasible options, he concludes, will be limited to some form of floating exchange rates and monetary unions. In which direction countries should move is not obvious. The choice between floating and monetary unification depends on a host of economic and political factors. The book provides an in-depth analysis of Western Europe's experience and the dramatic international monetary initiatives currently under way, and compares options for Asia, Africa, the former Soviet Union, and the Western Hemisphere. A volume of Brookings' Integrating National Economies Series
Renminbi internationalization is a hot topic, for good reason. It is, essentially, a window onto the Chinese government's aspirations and the larger process of economic and financial transformation. Making the renminbi a global currency requires rebalancing the Chinese economy, developing the country's financial markets and opening them to the rest of the world, and moving to a more flexible exchange rate. In other words, the internationalization of the renminbi is a monetary and financial issue with much broader supra-monetary and financial implications. This book offers a new perspective on the larger issues of economic, financial, and institutional change in what will eventually be the world's largest economy.
In Global Imbalances and the Lessons of Bretton Woods, Barry Eichengreen takes issue with the argument that today's international financial system is largely analogous to the Bretton Woods System of the period 1958 to 1973. Then, as now, it has been argued, the United States ran balance of payment deficits, provided international reserves to other countries, and acted as export market of last resort for the rest of the world. Then, as now, the story continues, other countries were reluctant to revalue their currencies for fear of seeing their export-led growth slow and suffering capital losses on their foreign reserves. Eichengreen argues in response that the power of historical analogy lies not just in finding parallels but in highlighting differences, and he finds important differences in the structure of the world economy today. Such differences, he concludes, mean that the current constellation of exchange rates and payments imbalances is unlikely to last as long as the original Bretton Woods System.
Two of the most salient differences are the twin deficits and low savings rate of the United States, which do not augur well for the sustainability of the country's international position. Such differences, he concludes, mean that the current constellation of exchange rates and payments imbalances is unlikely to last as long as the original Bretton Woods System. After identifying these differences, Eichengreen looks in detail at the Gold Pool, the mechanism through which European central banks sought to support the dollar in the 1960s. He shows that the Pool was fragile and short lived, which does not bode well for collective efforts on the part of Asian central banks to restrain reserve diversification and support the dollar today. He studies Japan's exit from its dollar peg in 1971, drawing lessons for China's transition to greater exchange rate flexibility. And he considers the history of reserve currency competition, asking if it has lessons for whether the dollar is destined to lose its standing as preeminent international currency to the euro or even the Chinese renminbi.
Long ago, the international community agreed to a system of national ownership of natural resources, giving states sovereignty over their respective territories. In recent years, however, environmentalists have raised questions about this distribution of property rights with respect to global environmental issues, such as atmospheric disposal of waste gases, preservation of the Earth's genetic material, and the destruction of tropical rain forests. When environmental impacts are global, international action may be warranted to ensure that individual nations are complying with transnational standards.
In this book, part of the Brookings Integrating National Economies series, Richard N. Cooper evaluates the need for international policy action in natural resource and environmental management. Using numerous examples, he illustrates the issues that cause conflict in environment and resources policies. Cooper divides the use of natural resources into three categories and examines the rationale for international action in each. He discusses the use of resources not yet subject to national jurisdiction, such as Antarctica, open oceans, and outer space, and analyzes the effects of national action on other nations via both market and environmental externalities.
Taking into account the diversity of individual states' circumstances and priorities, Copper concludes that stiff environmental regulations generally are not the best answer to environmental management. He explains that developing countries are not likely to take actions to improve environmental hazards if those actions risk slowing their economic growth. Instead, policies that provide incentives for compliance with international standards are needed. The book outlines past internatioal actions, what has worked and what has not, and provides recommendations for future actions.
A volume of Brookings' Integrating National Economies Series
As John marked his 75th birthday, his friends and colleagues prepared this collection of essays to celebrate these many contributions and reflect on their relevance to the challenges that confront the world economy in the wake of the 2008 09 global financial crisis and its current aftermath in Europe.
The global credit crisis of 2008–2009 was the most serious shock to the world economy in fully 80 years. It was for the world as a whole what the Asian crisis of 1997–1998 was for emerging markets: a profoundly alarming wake-up call. By laying bare the fragility of global markets, it raised troubling questions about the operation of our deeply integrated world economy. It cast doubt on the efficacy of the dominant mode of light-touch financial regulation and more generally on the efficacy of the prevailing commitment to economic and financial liberalization. It challenged the managerial capacity of inherited institutions of global governance. And it augured a changing of the guard, pointing to the possibility that the economies that had been the leaders in the “global growth stakes” in the past might no longer be the leaders in the future.
What the crisis means for reform, however, is still unclear. This book brings together leading scholars and policy analysts to describe and weigh the options. Successive chapters assess options for the global financial system, the global trading system, the international monetary system, and the Group of 20 and global governance. A final set of chapters contemplates the policy challenges for emerging markets and the advanced economies in the wake of the financial crisis.Contents:IntroductionFinancial Reform after the CrisisDid WTO Rules Restrain Protectionism During the Recent Systemic Crisis?The International Monetary System after the Financial CrisisThe Group of 20: Trials of Global Governance in Times of CrisisEmerging Markets in the Aftermath of the Global Financial CrisisChallenges for Emerging AsiaLong-Term Challenges for the Advanced Economies: Reducing Government Debt
Readership: Students and researchers in the fields of international economics, macroeconomics, finance and development.
Keywords:World Economy;Financial Crisis;Global Trading System;Global Financial System;International Monetary System;G20;Global Governance;Emerging Markets;Asia;Advanced EconomiesKey Features:Gives comprehensive treatment covering trade, finance, macroeconomics and development policyCombines the perspectives of leading analysts from North America, Europe and AsiaContains accessible technical
Presenting evidence that even emerging markets with strong policies and institutions experience this problem, Other People's Money recognizes that the situation must be attributed to more than ignorance. Instead, the contributors suggest that the problem is linked to the operation of international financial markets, which prevent countries from borrowing in their own currencies. A comprehensive analysis of the sources of this problem and its consequences, Other People's Money takes the study one step further, proposing a solution that would involve having the World Bank and regional development banks themselves borrow and lend in emerging market currencies.
In this book, a group of leading labor economists and social scientists address an array of concerns about economic integration and provide insight into labor's likely response. They identify the challenges of the Single Market Program and explore the implications of western European integration for European industrial relations, European labor mobility, and economies and labor markets in the rest of the world.
The contributors assess the impact of economic unification on European trade unions, wage-bargaining, work rules, training programs, and benefits. They draw on U.S. experiences in the centralization and more recent decentralization of the work force, consider the German system of industrial relations as a model for power sharing between workers and managers, and explore current efforts of labor market restructuring and privatization in central and eastern Europe. They address such questions as: Will pension and health insurance arrangements constrain worker mobility? Will cross-country wage differences within the EC narrow? And will exchange rates and monetary unification exacerbate unemployment problems? They also examine the impact of unification on immigration policy, capital markets, and trade.
Labor and an Integrated Europe provides a much needed background for developing a coherent plan that deals with these crucial labor issues.
Toward an East Asian Exchange Rate Regime offers a timely and comprehensive analysis of the resulting debates, drawing on expertise from China, Japan, South Korea, and the United States. The introduction reviews the issues at stake, sketches a variety of proposed exchange rate regimes, and discusses comparisons between East Asia and the West.
Subsequent chapters examine the connection between global financial imbalances and East Asian monetary cooperation, China's potential role in regional coordination, the relationship between monetary and trade integration, and different paths toward regional cooperation. Authoritative yet concise, this is an essential primer on East Asian monetary integration.
Contributors include Gongpil Choi (Korean Institute of Finance, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco), Masahiro Kawai (University of Tokyo, Asian Development Bank), Kwanho Shin (Korea University), Yunjong Wang (SK Institute), Masaru Yoshitomi (RIETI,Tokyo), and Yongding Yu (Chinese Academy of Social Sciences).
In this book a team of leading international economists and economic historians look at parallel situations in the history of the international monetary system, focusing in particular on the gold standard. The concluding chapter uses a case study of modern Portugal to draw out implications for modern international monetary relations in Europe and for the rest of the world.
Edited by internationally renowned authors in the field and packed with articles by an impressive array of international contributors, this book examines the American and European economies; drawing comparisons between them.
Bringing together specialists from both sides of the Atlantic, including Lindert, DeLong and Buti to analyze the current state of both economies and their responses to the changing global environment, the book deals with competitiveness on the one hand and the relationship between institutions and markets on the other.
This volume is particularly relevant to postgraduate and postdoctoral students undertaking research in all areas of European integration and international political economy, while also being appropriate for a professional audience.
The book concludes that while Kenyan growth has not been to an ideal pattern, accompanied by an increase in inequality, there is little or no reason to believe that living standards have not improved. It examines the impact of aid on Kenya’s progress at both the microeconomic and macroeconomic level and provides an institutional study of the impact of aid on Kenyan Government policy formation and administration and a discussion of British aid’s political purposes and influence in Kenya.
The authors conclude that some of the effects predicted by the critics of aid are visible, but that the net effect on general living standards has been strongly positive, concluding that the problems constitute a case for improving aid procedures, but not against aid itself.
If you want to build a better future, you must believe in secrets.
The great secret of our time is that there are still uncharted frontiers to explore and new inventions to create. In Zero to One, legendary entrepreneur and investor Peter Thiel shows how we can find singular ways to create those new things.
Thiel begins with the contrarian premise that we live in an age of technological stagnation, even if we’re too distracted by shiny mobile devices to notice. Information technology has improved rapidly, but there is no reason why progress should be limited to computers or Silicon Valley. Progress can be achieved in any industry or area of business. It comes from the most important skill that every leader must master: learning to think for yourself.
Doing what someone else already knows how to do takes the world from 1 to n, adding more of something familiar. But when you do something new, you go from 0 to 1. The next Bill Gates will not build an operating system. The next Larry Page or Sergey Brin won’t make a search engine. Tomorrow’s champions will not win by competing ruthlessly in today’s marketplace. They will escape competition altogether, because their businesses will be unique.
Zero to One presents at once an optimistic view of the future of progress in America and a new way of thinking about innovation: it starts by learning to ask the questions that lead you to find value in unexpected places.
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.
In short, either we embrace radical change ourselves or radical changes will be visited upon our physical world. The status quo is no longer an option.
In This Changes Everything Naomi Klein argues that climate change isn’t just another issue to be neatly filed between taxes and health care. It’s an alarm that calls us to fix an economic system that is already failing us in many ways. Klein meticulously builds the case for how massively reducing our greenhouse emissions is our best chance to simultaneously reduce gaping inequalities, re-imagine our broken democracies, and rebuild our gutted local economies. She exposes the ideological desperation of the climate-change deniers, the messianic delusions of the would-be geoengineers, and the tragic defeatism of too many mainstream green initiatives. And she demonstrates precisely why the market has not—and cannot—fix the climate crisis but will instead make things worse, with ever more extreme and ecologically damaging extraction methods, accompanied by rampant disaster capitalism.
Klein argues that the changes to our relationship with nature and one another that are required to respond to the climate crisis humanely should not be viewed as grim penance, but rather as a kind of gift—a catalyst to transform broken economic and cultural priorities and to heal long-festering historical wounds. And she documents the inspiring movements that have already begun this process: communities that are not just refusing to be sites of further fossil fuel extraction but are building the next, regeneration-based economies right now.
Can we pull off these changes in time? Nothing is certain. Nothing except that climate change changes everything. And for a very brief time, the nature of that change is still up to us.
Icelanders wanted to stop fishing and become investment bankers. The Greeks wanted to turn their country into a pinata stuffed with cash and allow as many citizens as possible to take a whack at it. The Germans wanted to be even more German; the Irish wanted to stop being Irish.
Michael Lewis's investigation of bubbles beyond our shores is so brilliantly, sadly hilarious that it leads the American reader to a comfortable complacency: oh, those foolish foreigners. But when he turns a merciless eye on California and Washington, DC, we see that the narrative is a trap baited with humor, and we understand the reckoning that awaits the greatest and greediest of debtor nations.