In Paper Promises, Economist columnist Philip Coggan helps us to understand the origins of this mess and how it will affect the new global economy by explaining how our attitudes towards debt have changed throughout history, and how they may be about to change again.
Can we afford to take democracy for granted? It's now so much a part of our lives that we could be forgiven for thinking it mainly takes care of itself. Almost half the world's population now lives in a democratic state, while some Western democracies have now had universal suffrage for almost a century and have endured through even the most severe of global upheavals.
In The Last Vote, Philip Coggan shows how democracy today faces threats that we ignore at our own risk. Amid the turmoil of the financial crisis, high debt levels, and an ever-growing gap between the richest and the rest, it is easy to forget that the ultimate victim could be our democracy itself.
Tracing democracy's history and development, from the classical world through the revolution of the Enlightenment and on to its astounding success in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Coggan revisits the assumptions on which it is founded. What exactly is democracy? Why should we value it? What are its flaws? And could we do any better?
The Last Vote is a wake-up call, and an illuminating defence of a system, which, in Churchill's words, is the worst possible form of government, except for all the others that have been tried. Reasoned, lucid and balanced, Coggan's argument parrots neither the agenda of left nor right, but calls for us all to work together to ensure we don't end up in an even greater mess than we're in today. Finally, he proposes ideas for change and improvement to the system itself so the next vote we cast will not be the last.
Praise for Paper Promises:
'This book stands way above anything written on the present economic crisis' Nassim Taleb, author of The Black Swan
'Bold and confident... This book should be taken very seriously' John Authers, Financial Times
'The most illuminating account of the financial crisis to appear to date ... written with a lucidity that conveys deep insights without a trace of jargon' John Gray, New Statesman
Philip Coggan was a Financial Times journalist for over twenty years, and is now the Buttonwood columnist for the Economist. In 2009 he was named Senior Financial Journalist in the Harold Wincott awards and was voted Best Communicator at the Business Journalist of the Year Awards. He is the author of The Money Machine, and Paper Promises, winner of the Spears Business Book of the Year Award and longlisted for the Financial Times Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year Award.
Because of this trend, much of the country is questioning—often with great anger—whether the system that has for so long buoyed their hopes has now betrayed them once and for all. What we are left with is either anti-market pitchfork populism or pro-business technocratic insularity. Neither of these options presents a way to preserve what the author calls “the lighthouse” of American capitalism. Zingales argues that the way forward is pro-market populism, a fostering of truly free and open competition for the good of the people—not for the good of big business.
Drawing on the historical record of American populism at the turn of the twentieth century, Zingales illustrates how our current circumstances aren't all that different. People in the middle and at the bottom are getting squeezed, while people at the top are only growing richer. The solutions now, as then, are reforms to economic policy that level the playing field. Reforms that may be anti-business (specifically anti-big business), but are squarely pro-market. The question is whether we can once again muster the courage to confront the powers that be.
From 1999 to 2009, U.S. Navy SEAL Chris Kyle recorded the most career sniper kills in United States military history. His fellow American warriors, whom he protected with deadly precision from rooftops and stealth positions during the Iraq War, called him “The Legend”; meanwhile, the enemy feared him so much they named him al-Shaitan (“the devil”) and placed a bounty on his head. Kyle, who was tragically killed in 2013, writes honestly about the pain of war—including the deaths of two close SEAL teammates—and in moving first-person passages throughout, his wife, Taya, speaks openly about the strains of war on their family, as well as on Chris. Gripping and unforgettable, Kyle’s masterful account of his extraordinary battlefield experiences ranks as one of the great war memoirs of all time.