FDL Book Salon Welcomes James K. Galbraith, Inequality and Instability: A Study of the World Economy Just Before the Great Crisis

Welcome James K. Galbraith (Univ of Texas/Austin), and Host Max Fraad Wolff (HuffingtonPost)

[As a courtesy to our guests, please keep comments to the book and be respectful of dissenting opinions. Please take other conversations to a previous thread. – bev]

Inequality and Instability: A Study of the World Economy Just Before the Great Crisis

James Galbraith’s Inequality and Instability updates and motivates two intertwined and core issues facing the world today. Professor Galbraith takes on the macroeconomy, economics profession, and the structural trends in the world economy. The work builds up analytics, reports outcomes, and suggests areas of future inquiry. The metrics and results are clearly presented, cogently argued, and made readily available to lay readers and professionals in the space. It would be difficult to imagine more essential subjects to modernize and re-energize than issues of growing inequity and endemic insecurity.

The early chapters, Chapters 1-4, introduce measures and measurements of inequities for individuals, households, families. There is a refreshing international breadth of scope. The field is defined and explored along structural lines. This is an important mark of differentiation in an area cluttered by narrow inquiries that do not apply well across geographies and demographics. Chapters 5-9 take the basic premise and observation on a whirlwind tour of the Americas, Europe, and China. This allows the structural approach to be applied to different political circumstances, social norms, and levels of economic development. It is courageous and valuable to stress test common assumptions regarding equality and democracy. A close look at the unique case of Cuba and the recent trends in Argentina and Brazil allow an exploration of some counterfactuals to the long term trends discussed.

The concluding chapter attempts to extrapolate the key message and value of Galbraith’s modernization and structuralization of issues of equity and stability. The financialization of inequality and the rise of instability are broadly and deeply explored in Inequality and Instability. This work will arm advocates of greater equality with broader and deeper understanding. This is invaluable given the size of the challenge and the urgency of issues explored.

FDL Book Salon Welcomes James K. Galbraith, Inequality and Instability: A Study of the World Economy Just Before the Great Crisis

Welcome James K. Galbraith (Univ of Texas/Austin), and Host Max Fraad Wolff (HuffingtonPost)

[As a courtesy to our guests, please keep comments to the book and be respectful of dissenting opinions.  Please take other conversations to a previous thread. – bev]

Inequality and Instability: A Study of the World Economy Just Before the Great Crisis

James Galbraith’s Inequality and Instability updates and motivates two intertwined and core issues facing the world today. Professor Galbraith takes on the macroeconomy, economics profession, and the structural trends in the world economy. The work builds up analytics, reports outcomes, and suggests areas of future inquiry. The metrics and results are clearly presented, cogently argued, and made readily available to lay readers and professionals in the space. It would be difficult to imagine more essential subjects to modernize and re-energize than issues of growing inequity and endemic insecurity. (more…)

FDL Book Salon Welcomes Jeff Madrick, Age of Greed: The Triumph of Finance and the Decline of America, 1970 to the Present

Welcome Jeff Madrick, and Host Max Fraad Wolff.

Age of Greed: The Triumph of Finance and the Decline of America, 1970 to the Present

Host, Max Fraad Wolff:

Age of Greed offers a long survey of the rise of regulation liberated financial markets and actors. The historical sweep is artful and well presented. The text argues for a return to more caged financial markets and actors. The steady and mounting pressures on the American middle class are correlated with the rising excesses, fortunes and missteps of financiers and their vehicles. The personal biographies are well chosen, convincingly presented and illustrative.

The deregulatory trajectory outlined in Age of Greed for finance could be applied to many other sectors as well. We have seen airlines, electricity, pharma, communication, media and many other industries be significantly deregulated. Finance is the preferred case study in excess over recent years. While there are many and strong arguments for this choice, the uniqueness of this sector is not its deregulation. Financial markets and actors have simply been an element of structural change in the American economy and polity.

As the middle class slips into the annals of history, finance has and continues to play a role. However, 30 years of stagnant wages, prevailing ideology among politicians and global business regulation are not all the work or effect of financial machinations. In nations and regions where financial firms, markets are much weaker we have seen similar trends. The question remains, are financial markets cause or effect of declining equality, wages and social democracy?

Jeff Madrick has made a well researched, well presented and thought through addition to a vital debate. The size of financial markets’ role in rising inequality of income, wealth and opportunity is still very much open to debate.

We look forward to exploring this and other themes in our book salon.

[As a courtesy to our guests, please keep comments to the book. Please take other conversations to a previous thread. – bev]

FDL Book Salon Welcomes Jeff Madrick, Age of Greed: The Triumph of Finance and the Decline of America, 1970 to the Present

Welcome Jeff Madrick, and Host Max Fraad Wolff.

Age of Greed: The Triumph of Finance and the Decline of America, 1970 to the Present

Host, Max Fraad Wolff:

Age of Greed offers a long survey of the rise of regulation liberated financial markets and actors. The historical sweep is artful and well presented. The text argues for a return to more caged financial markets and actors. The steady and mounting pressures on the American middle class are correlated with the rising excesses, fortunes and missteps of financiers and their vehicles. The personal biographies are well chosen, convincingly presented and illustrative.

The deregulatory trajectory outlined in Age of Greed for finance could be applied to many other sectors as well. We have seen airlines, electricity, pharma, communication, media and many other industries be significantly deregulated. Finance is the preferred case study in excess over recent years. While there are many and strong arguments for this choice, the uniqueness of this sector is not its deregulation. Financial markets and actors have simply been an element of structural change in the American economy and polity. (more…)

FDL Book Salon Welcomes Moshe Adler, Economics for the Rest of Us

[Welcome Moshe Adler, and Host Max Fraad Wolff.] [As a courtesy to our guests, please keep comments to the book.  Please take other conversations to a previous thread.  – bev]

Economics for the Rest of Us: Debunking the Science that Makes Life Dismal

Moshe Adler’s Economics for the Rest of Us is a strong introduction to the core conceits and theories of modern economics. The book takes readers on a well written tour of leading thoughts on key topics of perennial concern. Employment, equality, efficiency, wages are thrown around moving minds and legislation. As we struggle with high unemployment, stagnant wages and international competition, these issues must be understood. I would recommend this work as a intellectually curious guide to thinking about vital issues and the discipline of economics. It is valuable to have a fast, smooth run through of these topics. The interplay between the field of economics and the economy is a long ignored and vital discussion.

As an economist, it was a pleasure to read through Economics for the Rest of Us and see the material presented in a user friendly format that encourages debate and social analysis.

FDL Book Salon Welcomes Nomi Prins, It Takes A Pillage

nomi-prins-it-takes-a-pillage.thumbnail.JPG [Welcome Nomi Prins, and Host, Max Wolff – bev]

It Takes a Pillage: Behind the Bailouts, Bonuses, and Backroom Deals from Washington to Wall Street

Nomi has done us a great service in reviewing how we got here and where we went wrong. Each morning’s headlines are full of reverberations and aftershocks of the crisis. Each evening we get promises of change and hear a growing chorus of assurance that the worst is behind us. All of this makes < It Takes a Pillage an essential guide to understanding how the financial-political-economic system works in today’s America and beyond. Sadly, pillage, scandal and misinformation make up much of the core of our recent financial history. 

Nomi’s latest work does three things of value for readers, scholars, social critics and interested citizens. She reviews what happened across the long lead up to crisis. As deregulation and integration of financial markets and products raced forward, risks and fragilities grew. Regulators and self restraints declined as competitive pressures and the possibility of great reward drove increasingly risky behavior.  (more…)

FDL Book Salon Welcomes Matt Taibbi, The Great American Bubble Machine

[Welcome Matt Taibbi, and Host Max Fraad Wolff – bev]matt-taibbi-greatamericanbubble-slarge.thumbnail.jpg

Matt Taibbi’s recent Rolling Stone articles Great American Bubble Machine & The Big Takeover 

The Big Takeover was written in the depths of the latest and greatest plunge in world asset markets. America was particularly hard hit as the global crisis echoed out from ground zero, US housing and housing finance. The financial world began a disastrous meltdown beginning in March 2008 with the failure of Bear Stearns and coming to a head with the failures of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Lehman Brothers and AIG in September 2009. By the time The Big Takeover went to press we were seeing unprecedented and massive destruction of wealth. The Bush and Obama Administrations were responding with staggering assistance to those American financial institutions that they choose to rescue. Across March 2009 the trillions, yes trillions, in assistance were able to sure up remaining giants of finance. Since March we have seen continued pain and suffering in America but, vastly improving conditions in leading banks, asset prices and broad rooms.  (more…)