A field guide to the twenty-first century, written by one of its most celebrated observers
We all sense it—something big is going on. You feel it in your workplace. You feel it when you talk to your kids. You can’t miss it when you read the newspapers or watch the news. Our lives are being transformed in so many realms all at once—and it is dizzying.
In Thank You for Being Late, a work unlike anything he has attempted before, Thomas L. Friedman exposes the tectonic movements that are reshaping the world today and explains how to get the most out of them and cushion their worst impacts. You will never look at the world the same way again after you read this book: how you understand the news, the work you do, the education your kids need, the investments your employer has to make, and the moral and geopolitical choices our country has to navigate will all be refashioned by Friedman’s original analysis.
Friedman begins by taking us into his own way of looking at the world—how he writes a column. After a quick tutorial on that subject, he proceeds to write what could only be called a giant column about the twenty-first century. His thesis: to understand the twenty-first century, you need to understand that the planet’s three largest forces—Moore’s law (technology); the Market (globalization); and Mother Nature (climate change and biodiversity loss)—are accelerating all at once. These accelerations are transforming five key realms: the workplace, politics, geopolitics, ethics, and community.
Why is this happening? As Friedman shows, the exponential increase in computing power defined by Moore’s law has a lot to do with it. The year 2007 was a major inflection point: the release of the iPhone, together with advances in silicon chips, software, storage, sensors, and networking, created a new technology platform. Friedman calls this platform “the supernova”—for it is an extraordinary release of energy that is reshaping everything from how we hail a taxi to the fate of nations to our most intimate relationships. It is creating vast new opportunities for individuals and small groups to save the world—or to destroy it.
Thank You for Being Late is a work of contemporary history that serves as a field manual for how to write and think about this era of accelerations. It’s also an argument for “being late”—for pausing to appreciate this amazing historical epoch we’re passing through and reflecting on its possibilities and dangers. To amplify this point, Friedman revisits his Minnesota hometown in his moving concluding chapters; there, he explores how communities can create a “topsoil of trust” to anchor their increasingly diverse and digital populations.
With his trademark vitality, wit, and optimism, Friedman shows that we can overcome the multiple stresses of an age of accelerations—if we slow down, if we dare to be late and use the time to reimagine work, politics, and community. Thank You for Being Late is Friedman’s most ambitious book—and an essential guide to the present and the future.
In his most provocative and practical book yet, one of the foremost thinkers of our time redefines what it means to understand the world, succeed in a profession, contribute to a fair and just society, detect nonsense, and influence others. Citing examples ranging from Hammurabi to Seneca, Antaeus the Giant to Donald Trump, Nassim Nicholas Taleb shows how the willingness to accept one’s own risks is an essential attribute of heroes, saints, and flourishing people in all walks of life.
As always both accessible and iconoclastic, Taleb challenges long-held beliefs about the values of those who spearhead military interventions, make financial investments, and propagate religious faiths. Among his insights:
• For social justice, focus on symmetry and risk sharing. You cannot make profits and transfer the risks to others, as bankers and large corporations do. You cannot get rich without owning your own risk and paying for your own losses. Forcing skin in the game corrects this asymmetry better than thousands of laws and regulations.
• Ethical rules aren’t universal. You’re part of a group larger than you, but it’s still smaller than humanity in general.
• Minorities, not majorities, run the world. The world is not run by consensus but by stubborn minorities imposing their tastes and ethics on others.
• You can be an intellectual yet still be an idiot. “Educated philistines” have been wrong on everything from Stalinism to Iraq to low-carb diets.
• Beware of complicated solutions (that someone was paid to find). A simple barbell can build muscle better than expensive new machines.
• True religion is commitment, not just faith. How much you believe in something is manifested only by what you’re willing to risk for it.
The phrase “skin in the game” is one we have often heard but rarely stopped to truly dissect. It is the backbone of risk management, but it’s also an astonishingly rich worldview that, as Taleb shows in this book, applies to all aspects of our lives. As Taleb says, “The symmetry of skin in the game is a simple rule that’s necessary for fairness and justice, and the ultimate BS-buster,” and “Never trust anyone who doesn’t have skin in the game. Without it, fools and crooks will benefit, and their mistakes will never come back to haunt them.”
Thomas L. Friedman's no. 1 bestseller The World Is Flat has helped millions of readers to see globalization in a new way. Now Friedman brings a fresh outlook to the crises of destabilizing climate change and rising competition for energy—both of which could poison our world if we do not act quickly and collectively. His argument speaks to all of us who are concerned about the state of America in the global future.
Friedman proposes that an ambitious national strategy— which he calls "Geo-Greenism"—is not only what we need to save the planet from overheating; it is what we need to make America healthier, richer, more innovative, more productive, and more secure.
As in The World Is Flat, he explains a new era—the Energy-Climate era—through an illuminating account of recent events. He shows how 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, and the flattening of the world by the Internet (which brought 3 billion new consumers onto the world stage) have combined to bring climate and energy issues to Main Street. But they have not gone very far down Main Street; the much-touted "green revolution" has hardly begun. With all that in mind, Friedman sets out the clean-technology breakthroughs we, and the world, will need; he shows that the ET (Energy Technology) revolution will be both transformative and disruptive; and he explains why America must lead this revolution—with the first Green President and a Green New Deal, spurred by the Greenest Generation.
Hot, Flat, and Crowded is classic Thomas L. Friedman—fearless, incisive, forward-looking, and rich in surprising common sense about the world we live in today.
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.
Over the past decade, Americans watched in bafflement and rage as one institution after another – from Wall Street to Congress, the Catholic Church to corporate America, even Major League Baseball – imploded under the weight of corruption and incompetence. In the wake of the Fail Decade, Americans have historically low levels of trust in their institutions; the social contract between ordinary citizens and elites lies in tatters.
How did we get here? With Twilight of the Elites, Christopher Hayes offers a radically novel answer. Since the 1960s, as the meritocracy elevated a more diverse group of men and women into power, they learned to embrace the accelerating inequality that had placed them near the very top. Their ascension heightened social distance and spawned a new American elite--one more prone to failure and corruption than any that came before it.
Mixing deft political analysis, timely social commentary, and deep historical understanding, Twilight of the Elites describes how the society we have come to inhabit – utterly forgiving at the top and relentlessly punitive at the bottom – produces leaders who are out of touch with the people they have been trusted to govern. Hayes argues that the public's failure to trust the federal government, corporate America, and the media has led to a crisis of authority that threatens to engulf not just our politics but our day-to-day lives.
Upending well-worn ideological and partisan categories, Hayes entirely reorients our perspective on our times. Twilight of the Elites is the defining work of social criticism for the post-bailout age.
For over 30% new material including many startling developments that have occurred in the past few years, check out The Real Crash Fully Revised and Updated Edition, on sale now.
You might be thinking everything's okay: the stock market is on the rise, jobs are growing, the worst of it is over.
You'd be wrong.
In The Real Crash, New York Times bestselling author Peter D. Schiff argues that America is enjoying a government-inflated bubble, one that reality will explode . . . with disastrous consequences for the economy and for each of us. Schiff demonstrates how the infusion of billions of dollars of stimulus money has only dug a deeper hole: the United States government simply spends too much and does not collect enough money to pay its debts, and in the end, Americans from all walks of life will face a crushing consequence.
We're in hock to China, we can't afford the homes we own, and the entire premise of our currency---backed by the full faith and credit of the United States---is false. Our system is broken, Schiff says, and there are only two paths forward. The one we're on now leads to a currency and sovereign debt crisis that will utterly destroy our economy and impoverish the vast majority of our citizens.
However, if we change course, the road ahead will be a bit rockier at first, but the final destination will be far more appealing. If we want to avoid complete collapse, we must drastically reduce government spending---eliminate entire agencies, end costly foreign military escapades and focus only on national defense---and stop student loan or mortgage interest deductions, as well as drug wars and bank-and-business bailouts. We must also do what no politician or pundit has proposed: America should declare bankruptcy, restructure its debts, and reform our system from the ground up.
Persuasively argued and provocative, The Real Crash explains how we got into this mess, how we might get out of it, and what happens if we don't. And, with wisdom born from having predicted the Crash of 2008, Peter Schiff explains how to protect yourself, your family, your money, and your country against what he predicts.
The Great Recession that began in 2007 is now more than four years old—and counting. Some 24 million Americans are unemployed or underemployed, and at recent rates of job creation we won’t be back to normal levels of employment until late this decade. This is a tragedy. Do we have to accept it?
“No!” is the resounding answer given by Nobel Prize–winning economist Paul Krugman in this call to arms. We have seen this situation before and we know how to fix it; all we lack is the political will to take action.
Krugman walks us through the financial crisis that triggered the greatest downturn since the Great Depression and outlines the efforts that have been made thus far. The way forward is clear. Our priority must be to get ourselves back on the path to growth; every day that we lag behind normal production levels only adds to the astronomical economic loss of this depression. What we need for a rapid, powerful recovery is precisely what we’ve needed in crises past—a burst of government spending to jump-start the economy. We owe it not only to the unemployed, but to everyone affected by this tragedy to end this depression now.
Includes a bonus PDF of charts from the book
The shift toward automation is about to create a tsunami of unemployment. Not in the distant future--now. One recent estimate predicts 45 million American workers will lose their jobs within the next twelve years--jobs that won't be replaced. In a future marked by restlessness and chronic unemployment, what will happen to American society?
In The War on Normal People, Andrew Yang paints a dire portrait of the American economy. Rapidly advancing technologies like artificial intelligence, robotics and automation software are making millions of Americans' livelihoods irrelevant. The consequences of these trends are already being felt across our communities in the form of political unrest, drug use, and other social ills. The future looks dire-but is it unavoidable?
In The War on Normal People, Yang imagines a different future--one in which having a job is distinct from the capacity to prosper and seek fulfillment. At this vision's core is Universal Basic Income, the concept of providing all citizens with a guaranteed income-and one that is rapidly gaining popularity among forward-thinking politicians and economists. Yang proposes that UBI is an essential step toward a new, more durable kind of economy, one he calls "human capitalism."
Economism: an ideology that distorts the valid principles and tools of introductory college economics, propagated by self-styled experts, zealous lobbyists, clueless politicians, and ignorant pundits.
In order to illuminate the fallacies of economism, James Kwak first offers a primer on supply and demand, market equilibrium, and social welfare: the underpinnings of most popular economic arguments. Then he provides a historical account of how economism became a prevalent mode of thought in the United States—focusing on the people who packaged Econ 101 into sound bites that were then repeated until they took on the aura of truth. He shows us how issues of moment in contemporary American society—labor markets, taxes, finance, health care, and international trade, among others—are shaped by economism, demonstrating in each case with clarity and élan how, because of its failure to reflect the complexities of our world, economism has had a deleterious influence on policies that affect hundreds of millions of Americans.
That was Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s vow as the worst financial panic in more than fifty years gripped the world and he struggled to avoid the once unthinkable: a repeat of the Great Depression. Brilliant but temperamentally cautious, Bernanke researched and wrote about the causes of the Depression during his career as an academic. Then when thrust into a role as one of the most important people in the world, he was compelled to boldness by circumstances he never anticipated.
The president of the United States can respond instantly to a missile attack with America’s military might, but he cannot respond to a financial crisis with real money unless Congress acts. The Fed chairman can. Bernanke did. Under his leadership the Fed spearheaded the biggest government intervention in more than half a century and effectively became the fourth branch of government, with no direct accountability to the nation’s voters.
Believing that the economic catastrophe of the 1930s was largely the fault of a sluggish and wrongheaded Federal Reserve, Bernanke was determined not to repeat that epic mistake. In this penetrating look inside the most powerful economic institution in the world, David Wessel illuminates its opaque and undemocratic inner workings, while revealing how the Bernanke Fed led the desperate effort to prevent the world’s financial engine from grinding to a halt.
In piecing together the fullest, most authoritative, and alarming picture yet of this decisive moment in our nation’s history, In Fed We Trust answers the most critical questions. Among them:
• What did Bernanke and his team at the Fed know–and what took them by surprise? Which of their actions stretched–or even ripped through–the Fed’s legal authority? Which chilling numbers and indicators made them feel they had no choice?
• What were they thinking at pivotal moments during the race to sell Bear Stearns, the unsuccessful quest to save Lehman Brothers, and the virtual nationalization of AIG, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac? What were they saying to one another when, as Bernanke put it to Wessel: “We came very close to Depression 2.0”?
• How well did Bernanke, former treasury secretary Hank Paulson, and then New York Fed president Tim Geithner perform under intense pressure?
• How did the crisis prompt a reappraisal of the once-impregnable reputation of Alan Greenspan?
In Fed We Trust is a breathtaking and singularly perceptive look at a historic episode in American and global economic history.
From the Hardcover edition.
From the bestselling author of What's the Matter with Kansas?, a wonderfully insightful and sardonic look at how the worst economy since the 1930s has brought about the revival of conservatism
Economic catastrophe usually brings social protest and demands for change—or at least it's supposed to. But when Thomas Frank set out in 2009 to look for expressions of American discontent, all he could find were loud demands that the economic system be made even harsher on the recession's victims and that society's traditional winners receive even grander prizes. The American right, which had seemed moribund after the election of 2008, was strangely reinvigorated by the arrival of hard times. The Tea Party movement demanded not that we question the failed system but that we reaffirm our commitment to it. Republicans in Congress embarked on a bold strategy of total opposition to the liberal state. And TV phenom Glenn Beck demonstrated the commercial potential of heroic paranoia and the purest libertarian economics.
In Pity the Billionaire, Frank, the great chronicler of American paradox, examines the peculiar mechanism by which dire economic circumstances have delivered wildly unexpected political results. Using firsthand reporting, a deep knowledge of the American right, and a wicked sense of humor, he gives us the first full diagnosis of the cultural malady that has transformed collapse into profit, reconceived the Founding Fathers as heroes from an Ayn Rand novel, and enlisted the powerless in a fan club for the prosperous. What it portends is ominous for both our economic health and our democracy.
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John Maynard Keynes died in 1946, but his name is still one to conjure with in economics and politics worldwide. Although his contributions to economic theory established and maintain his fame, he also - particularly at the time in his life when he wrote the present book, Economic Consequences of the Peace - showed a flair for practical political work on the basis of economics in his work with the Royal Commission on Indian Currency and Finance.
At the outbreak of World War I, he began working with the British Treasury; in January 1915 he took up an official position there. At the end of the war he was appointed as the British Treasury's representative to the Versailles Peace Conference. His experiences at the Conference formed the basis of this book.
In short, he was so disgusted with the resulting treaty that he resigned his post.
This is not a theoretical text. It is a data-driven study of the consequences that must follow if the provisions of the Treaty of Versailles were put into full effect. To the extent that they were, Keynes was largely proven right; to the extent that they were ignored, delayed, or abrogated altogether, Keynes was also proven right: such measures were never put in practice because they were impossible.
Beyond practical economics and politics, his book is also a clear call for intelligent magnanimity in politics, both in peace and in war. His vision is of a world at peace in which the prosperity of each nation contributes to the prosperity of all people. He clearly demonstrates the practical working of that vision in his analysis of the disasters that would happen if the effort to rebuild war-torn Europe proceeded on a punitive basis versus the positive results of proceeding on a basis not of enmity, but of equity.
In order to avoid forcing the listener to listen to long recitations of numeric tables, there are small abridgements at a few points in the book. However, no substantial text has been removed and Keynes' arguments and methods of analysis remain intact.
This is economics; there are some places where the numerical facts get a little dense, but Keynes succeeds in keeping his argument clear even when the going gets heavy.
A Freshwater Seas audio production.
Completely uncensored, there are few indictments of the American banking system as incendiary.
LOUIS D. BRANDEIS was an Associate Justice Of The Supreme Court and a patriot.
He is widely regarded as one of the greatest crusaders for social justice in our nation's history, credited with drafting our most important Right To Privacy Laws, as well as championing our right to freedom of speech.He wrote "Other People's Money and How Bankers Use It" to warn the American people about the greedy bankers that control the United States and drive us into financial ruin.
The bestselling author of Nickel and Dimed goes back undercover to do for America's ailing middle class what she did for the working poor.
Barbara Ehrenreich's Nickel and Dimed explored the lives of low-wage workers. Now, in BAIT AND SWITCH, she enters another hidden realm of the economy—the world of the white-collar unemployed. Armed with a plausible resume of a professional "in transition," attempts to land a "middle class job" undergoing career coaching and personality testing, then begins trawling a series of EST-like "boot camps," job fairs, "networking events," and evangelical job-search "ministries." She gets an "image makeover" to prepare her for the corporate world and works hard to project the "winning attitude" recommended for a successful job search. She is proselytized, scammed, lectured and, again and again, rejected.
BAIT AND SWITCH highlights the people who've done everything right—gotten college degrees, developed marketable skills, and built up impressive resumes—yet have become repeatedly vulnerable to financial disaster and not simply due to the vagaries of the business cycle. Today's ultra-lean corporations take pride in shedding their "surplus" employees—plunging them, for months or years at a stretch, into the twilight zone of white-collar unemployment, where job-searching becomes a full-time job in itself. As Ehrenreich discovers, there are few social supports for the new disposable workers—and little security even for those who have jobs.
Like the now classic Nickel and Dimed, BAIT AND SWITCH is alternately hilarious and tragic, a searing expose of economic cruelty where we least expect it.
From the bestselling author of Missoula and Into the Wild: a selection of the singular investigative journalism that made Krakauer famous, covering topics from avalanches on Mt. Everest to a volcano in Washington state; from a wilderness therapy program for teens to an extraordinary cave in New Mexico so unearthly that is used by NASA to better understand Mars.
In these fascinating essays--first published in the pages of The New Yorker, Outside, Smithsonian, and Rolling Stone, among others--Jon Krakauer shows why he is considered one of the finest investigative journalists of our time. The articles, gathered together here for the first time, take us from an otherworldly cave in New Mexico to the heights of Mt. Everest; from the foot of the volcano Mt. Ranier to the Gates of the Arctic in Alaska; from the notebook of one Fred Becky, who has catalogued the greatest unclimbed mountaineering routes on the planet, to the last days of legendary surfer Mark Foo. These extraordinary articles are unified by the author's passion for nature and unrelenting search for truth.
Wall or no wall, deeply intertwined social, economic, business, cultural, and personal relationships mean the US-Mexico border is more like a seam than a barrier, weaving together two economies and cultures.
Mexico faces huge crime and corruption problems, but its remarkable transformation over the past two decades has made it a more educated, prosperous, and innovative nation than most Americans realize. Through portraits of business leaders, migrants, chefs, movie directors, police officers, and media and sports executives, Andrew Selee looks at this emerging Mexico, showing how it increasingly influences our daily lives in the United States in surprising ways--the jobs we do, the goods we consume, and even the new technology and entertainment we enjoy.
From the Mexican entrepreneur in Missouri who saved the US nail industry, to the city leaders who were visionary enough to build a bridge over the border fence so the people of San Diego and Tijuana could share a single international airport, to the connections between innovators in Mexico's emerging tech hub in Guadalajara and those in Silicon Valley, Mexicans and Americans together have been creating productive connections that now blur the boundaries that once separated us from each other.
A handful of corporations and financial institutions command an ever-greater concentration of economic and political power in an assault against markets, democracy, and life. It's a “suicide economy,” says David Korten, that destroys the very foundations of its own existence.
The bestselling 1995 edition of When Corporations Rule the World helped launch a global resistance against corporate domination. In this twentieth-anniversary edition, Korten shares insights from his personal experience as a participant in the growing movement for a New Economy. A new introduction documents the further concentration of wealth and corporate power since 1995 and explores why our institutions resolutely resist even modest reform. A new conclusion chapter outlines high-leverage opportunities for breakthrough change.
In recent decades, a Corporate Capitalism of top down mismanagement and backroom deal-making has smothered America's innovative spirit. Policy now favors the big, the corporate, and the status quo at the expense of the small, the inventive, and the entrepreneurial. The result is that working and middle class Americans have seen their incomes flat-lining and their American Dreams slipping away. In response, Smick calls for the great equalizer, a Main Street Capitalism of mass small-business startups and bottom-up innovation, all unfolding on a level playing field. Introducing a fourteen-point plan of bipartisan reforms for unleashing America's creativity and confidence, his forward-thinking book describes a new climate of dynamism where every man and woman is a potential entrepreneur-especially those at the bottom rungs of the economic ladder.
Ultimately, Smick argues, economies are more than statistical measurements of supply and demand, economic output, and rates of return. Economies are people-their hopes, fears, dreams, and expectations. The Great Equalizer is a call for a set of new paradigms that inspire and empower average American people to reimagine and reboot their economy. It is a manifesto asserting that, with a new kind of economic policy, America's best days lie ahead.
Maybe you think the banks should be broken up and the bankers should be held accountable for the financial crisis in 2008. Maybe you hate the greed of Wall Street but know that it’s important to the proper functioning of the world economy. Maybe you don’t really understand Wall Street, and phrases such as “credit default swap” make your eyes glaze over. Maybe you are utterly confused by the fact that after attacking Wall Street mercilessly during his campaign, Donald Trump has surrounded himself with Wall Street veterans. But if you like your smart phone or your widescreen TV, your car or your morning bacon, your pension or your 401(k), then—whether you know it or not—you are a fan of Wall Street.
William D. Cohan is no knee-jerk advocate for Wall Street and the big banks. He’s one of America’s most respected financial journalists and the progressive bestselling author of House of Cards. He has long been critical of the bad behavior that plagued much of Wall Street in the years leading up to the 2008 financial crisis, and because he spent seventeen years as an investment banker on Wall Street, he is an expert on its inner workings as well.
But in recent years he’s become alarmed by the cheap shots and ceaseless vitriol directed at Wall Street’s bankers, traders, and executives—the people whose job it is to provide capital to those who need it, the grease that keeps our economy humming. In this brisk, no-nonsense narrative, Cohan reminds us of the good these institutions do—and the dire consequences for us all if the essential role they play in making our lives better is carelessly curtailed.
Praise for William D. Cohan
“Cohan writes with an insider’s knowledge of the workings of Wall Street, a reporter’s investigative instincts and a natural storyteller’s narrative command.”—The New York Times
“[Cohan is] one of our most able financial journalists.”—Los Angeles Times
“A former Wall Street man and a talented writer, [Cohan] has the rare gift not only of understanding the fiendishly complicated goings-on, but also of being able to explain them in terms the lay reader can grasp.”—The Observer (London)
Richard Heinberg, Senior Fellow, Post-Carbon Institute, and author, The Party’s Over and The End of Growth bracket-right.png
Things fall apart; the center cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.
Although writing nearly a century ago, William Butler Yeats could easily be describing the United States today. The central feature of today’s geopolitical landscape is the imminent decline and fall of America’s global empire, and our response to it will determine much of our future, with implications reaching far beyond the limits of the United States’ borders.
Decline and Fall: The End of Empire and the Future of Democracy in 21st Century America challenges the conventional wisdom of empire. John Michael Greer uses a wealth of historical examples combined with groundbreaking original analysis to show how, in the pursuit of political and economic power, the United States has backed itself into a corner, explores the inevitable consequences of imperial collapse, and argues that the only constructive way forward is a renewal of democratic institutions.
Rather than asking whether today’s American empire should survive, Greer shifts the conversation to whether it can survive, and argues persuasively that the answer to the latter question is “no.” An invaluable contribution to the body of speculative post-industrial literature, this book is a must-read for anyone worried about the state of the Union, or who thinks that it is time to reinvent the American Dream. John Michael Greer is a scholar of ecological history, an internationally renowned Peak Oil theorist, and the author of more than thirty books including The Long Descent.
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.
Includes a bonus PDF with maps from the book