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Capitalism Hits the Fan: The Global Economic Meltdown and What to Do About It Paperback – October 12, 2009
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History To Repeat & Some To Not
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Top Customer Reviews
Capitalism has seen two major downfalls in the past 75 years and has been heavily peppered with slightly less painful contractions in that same time period. Many students of economics would simply brush this off as the inevitable consequences of the business cycle that accompanies the capitalist system. Such an explanation might suffice if it wasn't for the all out attack on workers that can't be attributed to the cycle. Dr. Wolff explains what many right and left-wing economist have been screaming for years but, without truly considering the consequences. Americans are working longer hours (the most in the industrialized world) more productively (with a 75%+ increase of productivity in the past 30 years) for ever falling wages.
The most noted effect of such a trend is the pendulum swing between FDR style "New Deal" policies and Regan-Bush style financial deregulation. When one style of capitalism fails, the voters flood to the other style in hopes of rejuvenated prosperity. However, as Wolff explains, regardless of where the pendulum swings both styles of capitalism are met with disastrous consequences for American citizens.Read more ›
At times, Wolff, a professor of economics at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, evinces a sour grapes attitude about what he sees as the difficulty of his like-minded colleagues to land plum academic positions. This, he believes, is a major reason the economic debate gets mired in oscillation mode. One look at Obama's staff of economic advisors strongly suggest he has a point.
The only quibble I have with this significant book is that there is a certain repetitiveness to the essays. However, given the import and freshness of its ideas, perhaps repetition is a good thing here.
In this collection, essays from the run-up and the immediate fall-out of the most recent capitalistic are anthologized. The strength of this organizing principal is that you can see over time the development and concerns that grow and allow you to place it in time. For example, the Professor is able to give the structure and shape of the bursting of the bubble and its fall out as early as October 15, 2005, two years and eleven months before the biggest crisis point in the living memory of Capitalism. As an outsider Wolff is not looking at the economy as a way to leverage profit, so such a call is easy to make. The predictive power of the model is impressive. The only more impressive call would have to put a time-line on the bursting. If he could do that, he could have made money on the run-up and selling everything short. In all honesty, the prescience is impressive. Many were aware of the bubble, if only retroactively. (I know now: when people who know nothing of a subject think they will be millionaires by leveraging whatever prevailing trend, it is time to sell.)
The biggest weakness here is structural and hard to avoid.Read more ›
Why? Because Wolff supplies a whole host of insights that you can't get anywhere else, even from such liberals as Joe Stiglitz and Paul Krugman. Who else can bring the issue of fundamentalist Christianity into a discussion on economics? And Wolff's essays at particular points in time make me think that as an investor I could have profited handsomely if only I'd read his essays at the time they were written, and I'd done a little bit of additional thinking on my part. I particularly like the essay he did on the issue of increased risk as it impacts every level of society. Clearly, Wolff is a breath of fresh air as far as economic thinking goes.
The only issue I have with him is his insistence that it's necessary to transform our economy into a new socialist style economy (NOT capitalist) that does not conform either to the traditional capitalist form or state capitalist form, as practiced I presume from Sweden to Germany to Russia. This is Wolff's Achilles heel in his thinking from my perspective.
But if you can get beyond this overly idealistic soft spot, you will be delighted in reading this book. Your IQ will increase, and you will want to read more of him.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I should have loved this just for the title, alone. But it was a very illuminating (and exasperating, irritating maddening and infuriating) work, loaded with insight, to which many... Read morePublished 9 months ago by Stanford Mommaerts-Brown
wolff nails it not for neoliberals or orthodox vulture you know who will it change anybody not likely but stll a good read.Published 17 months ago by RICHARD SCHEIBERLE
Very good points of View. However the main problem with the book the literary style. Richard Wolff is a good public speaker but it is a little boring on paper.Published 20 months ago by mr awesome
I would have appreciated more pages devoted on what to do about a system of economics that seems intractably averse to change. Read morePublished on February 9, 2014 by Hadrianus Management Group Inc.
Haven't read the book yet. Highly recommended by a literate friend. Hope it will shed more light on a ridiculous economic situation in which we find ourselves.Published on September 21, 2013 by Joan L. Erlanger
The collection or articles are very good but dated for the issues at hand affecting us today. I would be more interested in current commentaries on what is emerging economically in... Read morePublished on September 21, 2013 by Raymond Hoche-Mong
The writing style is a little different than I am used to, but I hung in there, and agree that the capitalist system has some serious flaws. Read morePublished on September 4, 2013 by Mike in FL
Well written and full of really good ideas.......that will never happen due to the stranglehold of big business on government policy
in this country. Read more