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Economics After the Crisis: Objectives and Means (Lionel Robbins Lectures) Hardcover – March 23, 2012

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Editorial Reviews


A well-researched and profound rethink of macroeconomic and financial policy after the crisis. Lord Adair Turner not only challenges the consensus on short-term tactical approaches to regulation and macroeconomic management, but he forces the reader to think more deeply about the long term goals of policy, including unfettered growth and the role of the free market.

(Kenneth Rogoff, Harvard University)

Adair Turner insists that economics should analyze the world as it actually is and human beings as they actually are and avoid taking its simplifying assumptions too literally. In this short volume he sketches the elements of such an analysis and shows how they can be applied to policy problems of the day, from financial regulation and population growth to climate change and income inequality. No one who worries about the future of the economy -- and the planet -- will fail to be provoked.

(Barry Eichengreen, George C. Pardee and Helen N. Pardee Professor of Economics and Political Science, University of California, Berkeley)

...With this book, Turner has proved that Britain still produces thinkers who combine ideas with practical experience.

(New Statesman)

Adair Turner is the jewel in the crown of British public servants. He is one of a tiny minority in public life today capable of thinking and acting at the highest level. Economics After the Crisis, based on three lectures he delivered at the London School of Economics in 2010, is a thinking person's delight, not least for the clear and lucid way in which Turner sets out his arguments.

(Robert Skidelsky The Times Literary Supplement)

About the Author

Adair Turner, Chairman of Britain's Financial Services Authority from September 2008 to March 2013, is a Senior Fellow of the Institute for New Economic Thinking. He is Visiting Professor at the London School of Economics and at Cass Business School, City University London, and the author of Just Capital: The Liberal Economy.

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Product Details

  • Series: Lionel Robbins Lectures
  • Hardcover: 128 pages
  • Publisher: The MIT Press (March 23, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 026201744X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262017442
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,218,228 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Samuel J. Sharp on June 21, 2012
Format: Hardcover
In this short (96 pages excluding introduction) book, Lord Turner sets forth three major arguments in three chapters: 1) Contrary to conventional economic understanding, increases in economic growth beyond some level of per capita GDP will not necessarily produce meaningful increases in welfare or happiness; 2) Some forms of increased market liberalization (especially in financial markets) does not produce greater efficiency and instead can create unjustifiable instability and inequality; 3) The field of economics should move from simplified models that do not reflect reality and instead become a moral science that incorporates lessons from history, politics, and philosophy.

These arguments include a number of nuanced qualifiers but a highly simplified, one sentence summary of his conclusion would be: "In advanced economies, because of the decreased marginal gains in utility from increased economic growth, and because of the large decreases in utility from sharp recessions, markets should be regulated to provide stability and equality rather than be left free to pursue growth as the ultimate end of economic activity." Proponents of lightly regulated free markets will likely disagree with most of this book, but I think they will find Turner's efforts scholarly, well-thought out, and fairly presented. Turner relies heavily on the work of others, and even if a reader is not impressed with this book, there are several studies and books cited that may lead to works that otherwise would not have been encountered because many of those sources are from British authors not normally cited in U.S. books on economics.

There are a few downsides to note. The price is somewhat high for such a short book.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Grandmom on September 10, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Turner's work is masterful -- he's one of the few (actually, I don't know of any other) who has the skill set to drill down from several perspectives -- all necessary for a proper analysis, and to cogently and elegantly document his P.O.V. Why haven't I seen him on Charlie Rose or any of the top interview shows in the U.S.? It's rumored that he's a candidate for head of Bank of England. If this should happen, I shall have gained the first ray of hope about the world's financial future I've had in years. Bravo, Adair! Good work!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By LD TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 29, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Growth has been the focus and holy grail of economic policy. GDP has been the measurement of success according to economists and bureaucrats. Turner believes this is wrong. Page 3 "We have no good reason for believing that additional growth in average income as measured by national income accounts, will necessarily and limitlessly deliver increased happiness, well-being, welfare, or whatever we define as the objective."

Economic policy has pushed for an ever increasing GDP. But we know that 1% have grown their income and thus GDP, while masking all the loss of income by the rest. So using GDP numbers to define success is false. Page 77 "GDP figures are almost useless as measures of long -term changes in human well-being. Even as measures of long-term changes in what we think they measure (`real income') they are highly imperfect, because they depend on conventions and assumptions that are to a degree arbitrary."

Stock brokers never recommend "sell". They just say to "hold" or "neutral". Similarly, the money and government people never say "depression". They just say "slow growth". Ditto for admitting the inflation we all see in our monthly bills.

The delusions of this crowd about insurance protecting risk if something should invalidate their sacred models is now legendary. Page 52 "The IMF's Global Financial Stability Review on April 2006 noted with approval that credit derivatives `enhance the transparency of the market's collective view of credit risks and thus provide valuable information about broad credit conditions and increasingly set the marginal rive of credit'". Page 53 "It is now obvious that this dominant ideology was wrong, failing to allow for the potential downside of the instability that increased financial complexity might produce.
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Format: Paperback
This book’s main premise is that GDP growth, as a goal, is too emphasized by economists, policy makers and the public at large (at least for the developed nations – for the less developed he is quite emphatic that this is not the case). The author, Dr. Adair Turner, posits that this is so for a number of reasons. One is that there is diminishing returns to material goods in terms of happiness. A second is that material growth has led to externalities such as global warming and pollution. This is not exactly an original idea but has definitely fallen out of vogue as of late. A third is that many products that have increased GDP, for example new products in the financial product markets, have increased GDP only slightly but have resulted in much wilder swings in business cycles, swings that have outweighed their value in terms of the very small incremental increase in GDP they have facilitated. A fourth is that there are many products and services that can increase GDP slightly, on a net basis, but may yield very significant gains to society’s happiness. Such goods include health care, particularly mental health care, as reducing depression in society helps in drastically increasing its level of wellbeing and happiness. All of these views, at least of late with the current economic crises we are in, have not been paid the attention they should. Dr. Turner, the author, by doing so brings a new breadth of fresh air to discussion of economic issues and policy. It is this reason the Financial Times, justifiably, named this book one of the top books on economics in the year it was published, 2012.

All of this is not to say, however, that the book does not have weaknesses. A major one is that, in a world where nations and societies complete, GDP is very important to the pecking order.
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Economics After the Crisis: Objectives and Means (Lionel Robbins Lectures)
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