Lost Decades: The Making of America's Debt Crisis and the Long Recovery

W. W. Norton & Company
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A clear, authoritative guide to the crisis of 2008, its continuing repercussions, and the needed reforms ahead.

The U.S. economy lost the first decade of the twenty-first century to an ill-conceived boom and subsequent bust. It is in danger of losing another decade to the stagnation of an incomplete recovery. How did this happen? Read this lucid explanation of the origins and long-term effects of the recent financial crisis, drawn in historical and comparative perspective by two leading political economists.

By 2008 the United States had become the biggest international borrower in world history, with more than two-thirds of its $6 trillion federal debt in foreign hands. The proportion of foreign loans to the size of the economy put the United States in league with Mexico, Indonesia, and other third-world debtor nations. The massive inflow of foreign funds financed the booms in housing prices and consumer spending that fueled the economy until the collapse of late 2008. This was the most serious international economic crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Menzie Chinn and Jeffry Frieden explain the political and economic roots of this crisis as well as its long-term effects. They explore the political strategies behind the Bush administration’s policy of funding massive deficits with foreign borrowing. They show that the crisis was foreseen by many and was avoidable through appropriate policy measures. They examine the continuing impact of our huge debt on the continuing slow recovery from the recession. Lost Decades will long be regarded as the standard account of the crisis and its aftermath.

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About the author

Menzie D. Chinn teaches at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and coauthors the influential blog Econbrowser.

Jeffry A. Frieden is Professor of Government at Harvard University. He specializes in the politics of international monetary and financial relations. Frieden is the author of Currency Politics: The Political Economy of Exchange Rate Politics and (with Menzie Chinn) of Lost Decades: The Making of America’s Debt Crisis and the Long Recovery. His previous books include Global Capitalism: Its Fall and Rise in the Twentieth Century; Debt, Development, and Democracy: Modern Political Economy and Latin America, 1965–1985; and Banking on the World: The Politics of American International Finance. He is also the co-author or co-editor of many other books on related topics. His articles on the politics of international economic issues have appeared in a wide variety of scholarly and general interest publications.

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Publisher
W. W. Norton & Company
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Published on
Sep 19, 2011
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Pages
304
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ISBN
9780393080506
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Features
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Language
English
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Genres
Business & Economics / Economic History
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Brilliant and engagingly written, Why Nations Fail answers the question that has stumped the experts for centuries: Why are some nations rich and others poor, divided by wealth and poverty, health and sickness, food and famine?

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 exchange rate is the most important price in any economy, since it affects all other prices. Exchange rates are set, either directly or indirectly, by government policy. Exchange rates are also central to the global economy, for they profoundly influence all international economic activity. Despite the critical role of exchange rate policy, there are few definitive explanations of why governments choose the currency policies they do. Filled with in-depth cases and examples, Currency Politics presents a comprehensive analysis of the politics surrounding exchange rates.

Identifying the motivations for currency policy preferences on the part of industries seeking to influence politicians, Jeffry Frieden shows how each industry's characteristics—including its exposure to currency risk and the price effects of exchange rate movements—determine those preferences. Frieden evaluates the accuracy of his theoretical arguments in a variety of historical and geographical settings: he looks at the politics of the gold standard, particularly in the United States, and he examines the political economy of European monetary integration. He also analyzes the politics of Latin American currency policy over the past forty years, and focuses on the daunting currency crises that have frequently debilitated Latin American nations, including Mexico, Argentina, and Brazil.

With an ambitious mix of narrative and statistical investigation, Currency Politics clarifies the political and economic determinants of exchange rate policies.

Winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics

Get ready to change the way you think about economics.

Nobel laureate Richard H. Thaler has spent his career studying the radical notion that the central agents in the economy are humans—predictable, error-prone individuals. Misbehaving is his arresting, frequently hilarious account of the struggle to bring an academic discipline back down to earth—and change the way we think about economics, ourselves, and our world.

Traditional economics assumes rational actors. Early in his research, Thaler realized these Spock-like automatons were nothing like real people. Whether buying a clock radio, selling basketball tickets, or applying for a mortgage, we all succumb to biases and make decisions that deviate from the standards of rationality assumed by economists. In other words, we misbehave. More importantly, our misbehavior has serious consequences. Dismissed at first by economists as an amusing sideshow, the study of human miscalculations and their effects on markets now drives efforts to make better decisions in our lives, our businesses, and our governments.

Coupling recent discoveries in human psychology with a practical understanding of incentives and market behavior, Thaler enlightens readers about how to make smarter decisions in an increasingly mystifying world. He reveals how behavioral economic analysis opens up new ways to look at everything from household finance to assigning faculty offices in a new building, to TV game shows, the NFL draft, and businesses like Uber.

Laced with antic stories of Thaler’s spirited battles with the bastions of traditional economic thinking, Misbehaving is a singular look into profound human foibles. When economics meets psychology, the implications for individuals, managers, and policy makers are both profound and entertaining.

Shortlisted for the Financial Times & McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award

The exchange rate is the most important price in any economy, since it affects all other prices. Exchange rates are set, either directly or indirectly, by government policy. Exchange rates are also central to the global economy, for they profoundly influence all international economic activity. Despite the critical role of exchange rate policy, there are few definitive explanations of why governments choose the currency policies they do. Filled with in-depth cases and examples, Currency Politics presents a comprehensive analysis of the politics surrounding exchange rates.

Identifying the motivations for currency policy preferences on the part of industries seeking to influence politicians, Jeffry Frieden shows how each industry's characteristics—including its exposure to currency risk and the price effects of exchange rate movements—determine those preferences. Frieden evaluates the accuracy of his theoretical arguments in a variety of historical and geographical settings: he looks at the politics of the gold standard, particularly in the United States, and he examines the political economy of European monetary integration. He also analyzes the politics of Latin American currency policy over the past forty years, and focuses on the daunting currency crises that have frequently debilitated Latin American nations, including Mexico, Argentina, and Brazil.

With an ambitious mix of narrative and statistical investigation, Currency Politics clarifies the political and economic determinants of exchange rate policies.

This is a reader that applies the newest debates in political economy to the analysis of Latin America in a way that is thematically and theoretically cohesive.. Modern Political Economy and Latin America consists of carefully selected, edited readings in Latin American political economy. The editors, Jeffry Frieden and Manuel Pastor, Jr., include an introductory chapter, and a concluding article as well as brief introductions to all sections. These inclusions will make explicit the theoretical underpinnings of each article, and will highlight their respective contributions to the ongoing debates in Latin America. } Modern Political Economy and Latin America consists of carefully selected, edited readings in Latin American political economy. The editors, Jeffry Frieden and Manuel Pastor, Jr., include an introductory chapter, and a concluding article as well as brief introductions to all sections. These inclusions will make explicit the theoretical underpinnings of each article, and will highlight their respective contributions to the ongoing debates in Latin America.Latin American economies are undergoing profound transformations. And, in the wake of a decade-long debt crisis, the statist models of the past are giving way to a reliance on the market even as authoritarian rule seems to have ebbed in favor of new or reborn democratic institutions. As a result, the policy framework guiding economic and political development is likely to be fundamentally different. The analysis of Latin America needs a strong dose of modern political economy--one that can bring the area studies field up to date with the recent developments on the theoretical end of the economics and political science professions. This book helps fill that need. }
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