Most helpful positive review
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Political Economy at its best
on June 11, 2013
This is a highly important book, the best single book for understanding the structural powers and maladjustments of the American economic system. It is highly accessible and will be of great interest to both non-economic-specialized readers and professional economists. This book has functioned brilliantly as secondary reader in my principle of macroeconomic courses and as a reader at the graduate level. It is well written, the articles are short, the organization of the book in three sections develops common threads and themes all of which help to understand the American economic system, both its strengths and its pathologies.
In the last several years Rick Wolff has published books, produced documentaries, given public interviews, hosted a radio show, and delivered lectures (widely available online) explaining that the crisis of 2007-8 was not unexpected. Rather the crisis of 2007-8 was both predictable and predicted by himself and others; the American economic system has been working against the majority of the public, benefiting the wealthy minority; socio-economic crisis is imminent to the capitalism; and the capitalistic system is dysfunctional and corporations rather pathological institutions. Capitalism is indefensible as a democratically determined system.
In this volume Rick Wolff has written a series of short and highly accessible articles. The dates of these articles go back to 2005 and are now updated to current political and economic events. He provides a blow by blow account of the ensuing crisis and it's after math. There is no other volume that offers the same theoretical and practical analysis accessible to non-specialist readers and citizens.
Wolff demonstrates the argument of "austerity" is non-sense and does economic violence to the majority of citizens. Likewise the Bush and Obama administrations debates about financial regulation and fiscal stimuli are pathetic political distractions of what real needs to be addressed, namely the extraction of wealth and profits from working Americans to the financial, managerial, and politically powerful.
Wolff argues the watershed moment of the crisis of 2007-8 was rooted in events of 1970s. It was during this time that real wages for American workers became stagnant, credit from banks extended to American households, financial institutions greatly empowered, and economic/financial risk shouldered by individuals.
Wolff began chronicling the instability of the system and the injustices of distribution in Monthly Review as early as 2005. These articles are the basis of his book. From there Wolff demonstrates that the American economic system, either with intervention and regulation (the liberal approach) or without intervention and regulation (the conservative approach) capitalism is prone toward both financial/economic crises and economic stagnation and illicit distribution.
In the third and last section of the book, Wolff argues in a series of articles shows that the political response has been inadequate. Economic literacy of American citizens is low, Wolff aims to elevate our understanding of the crisis and chronic political economic injustices of the American capitalist economic system.
This is a must read!