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Banking On Death: Or Investing in Life: The History and Future of Pensions Paperback


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 550 pages
  • Publisher: Verso (January 10, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 185984409X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1859844090
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 5.8 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,529,847 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Blackburn's dry and detailed book covers an enormous range. It traces the development of pensions from early modern Europe to the present day and expands the discussion to cover a wide variety of government public assistance programs, annuity products sold by insurance companies and mutual assistance organizations. The author's examination of funding pensions leads to his extensive treatment of topics such as corporate governance, tax policy and executive compensation. Due to the range covered, most of this material is necessarily superficial. The main focus argues Blackburn's position that the workers and citizens should, collectively, take over capitalist institutions, with the goal of the suppression of the fundamental mechanisms of capitalist competition. This is to be accomplished, he says, not through violent revolution, but through tax incentives to worker-controlled not-for-profit pension funds, which would invest in sustainable, progressive and responsible economic projects. However, he does not discuss the discrepancy between the mild means and dramatic ends. Still a visionary, Blackburn later shifts his attention to study the disappearance of the financial services industry and the shift of union pension funds from corruption and inefficiency to a supernaturally wise custodianship. There are, in fact, two unintegrated books here: an extensive history of pensions, and a visionary tract. As a history, the book is uneven, with the best coverage concerning the political maneuvering in the 1970s in the United States and Britain that led to today's state. As a visionary tract, Blackburn's position is unpopular both with radicals and the mainstream, but could convince some.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Blackburn (history, New School; sociology, Univ. of Essex) reports that pension funds have become such a major source of capital that they now represent 24 percent of all U.S. equity holdings and are part of the social fabric of Western economies. He argues that, for the funds to meet their social responsibility, workers must exert more control over them. The author notes instances in which fund managers have forced downsizing of companies to maintain high valuations, costing fund contributors their jobs. The book takes an internationalist approach, with emphasis on the United States and Great Britain, but it also covers German, French, Italian, and some Asian schemes; Blackburn does not think the "Anglo-Saxon" model should be the only one. While chronicling the increasing use of pension funds, this is ultimately a work of advocacy, with more than a little leftist slant and jargon, as befits an editor of the New Left Review. But it is more scholarly than most polemics. Mercifully, it is also devoid of math. However, the dense and often dry prose and complicated arguments do limit its suitability to libraries serving graduate programs in economics, public policy, history, and sociology.
Patrick J. Brunet, Western Wisconsin Technical Coll., LaCrosse
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
With the relaunch of New Left Review in 2000, Perry Anderson unfurled his panoramic survey of the global balance of forces and clear-eyed assessment of the left's prospects in a justly famous essay -"Renewals" - that drew upon the magnificent gloom that has become his stock-in-trade. Unsparingly, he set out the retreats, failures and reversals of the left over the last years of the twentieth-century. But he also made a prediction and identified an avenue of hope worthy of further investigation: "if the human energies for a change of system are ever released again, it will be from within the metabolism of capital itself. We cannot turn away from it. Only in the evolution of this order could lie the secrets of another one. This is the sense of enquiries like those by Robin Blackburn in NLR into the trend of financial institutions. There are no certainties here; so far, all that is possible are proposals and conjectures."

Blackburn's subsequent explorations in NLR of "grey capitalism" - the developments "within the metabolism of capital itself" that had their analogs in the shifting class positions and demographics of advanced capitalist countries - were the genesis for this monumental book on "the boring world of pension provision" that also manages to set forth the lineaments of an alternative pattern of socialist political economy for the twenty-first century.
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Format: Hardcover
The book is great. Fantastic survey on the subject and deep critical analisys. Robin Blackburn sets new (and effective) paths for the financial regulation our world is in need of.
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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Robert Michl on November 3, 2004
Format: Paperback
This is an immaculately researched book on the history, theory, and politics of pensions, private and public. It will be an important reference point for many years; the 'old-age crisis' is not likely to recede in importance. The book presents recent debates about Social Security fairly, and with sophistication. It describes the operation of 'gray capital' which arises from what economists call information asymmetries between owners and managers of capital. Readers will find stimulating its proposal for the socialisation of pension funds using a share levy as a source of finance. The writing is somewhat terse and dry, but always to the point
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mark E. Killion on November 9, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A comprehensive review of pensions and retirement programs in England and the United States. The author covers the political climates that have influenced the nature of pensions
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