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Crunch: Why Do I Feel So Squeezed? (And Other Unsolved Economic Mysteries) Hardcover – April 1, 2008

4.5 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. According to economist and author Bernstein (All Together Now: Common Sense for a Fair Economy), the endless parade of economic legislation and corporate criminality that keep the rich getting richer are all a direct product of economic knowledge being monopolized and manipulated by the rich, keeping the middle and lower classes woefully unprepared to understand, much less stand up to, the economic forces aligned against them. Fortunately, this accessible overview should clear things up for even the most befogged reader. Answering questions from an average American perspective-"the ones in the vise grip of the crunch"-Bernstein explains murky topics like health care reform, minimum wage laws, the Federal Reserve, immigration and budget deficits with a clear, friendly manner that sidesteps any scholarly (and/or sinister) obfuscation. His progressive "we're all in this togther" philosophy, though seemingly familiar, is backed up with enough data and savvy to illuminate what's wrong in the dominant "self-reliance" narrative of American political discourse. This down-to-earth, populist guide to the pressing economic issues of our time is a clarifying, useful and empowering resource.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

No mere populist rant, Crunch is organized as a broad primer on U.S. economics that uses inequality as a starting point for understanding this wider subject. Bernstein's concise explanations of issues like unemployment and health care expenses are meaty and engaging, offering laypeople tangible insight into how the economy functions and what it takes to ensure that those who make it work also share its rewards. -- Utne, Book Review, May-June 2008
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 225 pages
  • Publisher: Berrett-Koehler Publishers; 1st edition (April 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1576754774
  • ISBN-13: 978-1576754771
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 0.8 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,928,032 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Having long ago forgotten my college economics, I've been trying to make sense of the current talk of recession and the various stimulus proposals put out by politicians. Something about the viewpoint expressed by cable news pundits and economic leaders hasn't added up for me, but I couldn't articulate why. Jared Bernstein can and did in his book Crunch. In clear language, he explains how the current squeeze happened and gives the tools for evaluating how various issues--social security, globalization, immigration, and more--affect my pocketbook and what would move us towards, or away from, a fair society.
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Format: Hardcover
Finally - a book about the economy for non-economists! Jared Bernstein's clear and compelling approach to economic mysteries is a breath of fresh air amidst an atmosphere stagnant with jargon and so-called experts convoluting the issues. Crunch takes the spin out of statistics and explains what all those numbers really mean - and how politicians and the media can use (and misuse) them for political purposes.

The book is structured around the author's answers to real questions from real people, which I greatly appreciated, having asked many of those questions myself and never before received a satisfactory answer. Crunch is truly inspirational - not only do we all have the ability to understand complex economic principles, but we have the power to see through media hype and make our own decisions about the best policies to get our flailing economy back on track.
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Format: Hardcover
Went to see Jared Bernstein speak last Saturday and left feeling surprisingly uplifted despite the doom-and-gloom economic analysis. Being a member of the middle class myself, I can fully endorse his description of the "crunch" and I am already a firm believer that wealth distribution is a core problem in our society -so I wasn't expecting more than an endorsement of what I already believe. However, I came away feeling energized by his organizing theme that with knowledge we can "rechannel the power of economic analysis back to the service of those who need it most: the ones in the vise grip of the crunch." He has a great command of the telling economic detail & certainly gave me fact-fodder for a dozen arguments with 'fiscally conservative' relatives - but I found his interweaving of economic and policy ideas to be particularly compelling. Plus, his enthusiasm for his subject and his sincerity are infectious - so I bought the book. It hasn't disappointed. A well-written, easy to digest analysis with compelling arguments on every page. I'm ready to "rechannel the power."
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Format: Hardcover
I've always wondered whether I should believe the pundits who insist on "letting the free market take its course," and about why positive economic indicators don't seem to reflect the way people are really living. It never made sense to me. In Crunch, Jared Bernstein explains that the reason accepted economic wisdom doesn't always make sense is that some of it is just plain wrong.

One of the things I loved about this book is that it explains economic principles--as well as the motives of those who try to misrepresent them for their own purposes--in terms a non-economist can understand. I feel like I got an in on the knowledge that the experts had been hoarding for themselves. One of Bernstein's key arguments is that economics is about power, and in sharing this information he gives power back to those of us without PhDs in Economics.

Another thing I really liked is that this book doesn't stop with what's wrong. The author offers insights about and suggestions for how we can change to work through really big economic problems like health care, social security, and globalization.
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Format: Hardcover
Usually by the fourth or fifth word out of an economist's mouth, my brain is swimming with confusion from all the meaningless buzzwords and MC Escher-styled twists of logic supposedly bolstering their arguements- and that's exactly the problem Bernstein is addressing in "Crunch." With concise language and refreshingly candid observations, this book cuts out the white noise and gives it to you straight. I learned so much that I just assumed I would never comprehend. A book like this could not possibly be more timely- every day for months now, the headlines are catching up with what a lot of us already knew: the fix is in. Mortgage crisis, rising food & gas costs, soring medical and student loan bills, concentrated wealth, credit collapse, sinking middle class lifestyle and buying power- "Crunch" touches on all of these and a ton more. I recommend this book to anyone looking to get a grip on economic theory and the very real ways it's affecting Americans now.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a fantastic book. I love the author's no B.S. approach to the economic troubles that face Americans.

He explains why much of today's economic policy is little more than rationalized greed. In particular how the Federal Reserve Board's hiking of interest rates when labor markets get tight is great for the large investor class, (lowers wages by increasing the number of unemployed in a slowed economy), but hammers working people.

I also enjoyed the explanation of the "education myth", how it is naive to think the 70% of the population that does not attend college should somehow do so and all will be well. The author pointed out this is an easy way for the free market apologists to place the blame for gross inequality on "other people"...if only they would do this, or that, they could live worthwhile lives. Right. The devaluing of others labor and the addiction of American business to cheap labor in general is an age old sport.

Mr. Bernstein seems to enjoy poking fun at the free market zealots and economists who think all will be well for everyone through the magic of the market place. As if greed and injustice do not exist. This "Easter Bunny/Santa Claus" economic approach is ripped by the author and I loved every single line. Finally someone from Washington with the guts to tell it like it is.

This was just a great book. Easy to read, and gets to the heart of real issues impacting average Americans. I loved it.
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