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First Principles: Five Keys to Restoring America's Prosperity Hardcover – January 23, 2012

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Editorial Reviews


“A clear and compelling call-to-action and an important reminder of the central link between economic freedom and prosperity.” (Manhattan Institute)

“Taylor’s latest contribution could not come at a more important moment.” (U. S. Congressman Paul Ryan)

“A timely antidote to the gloom about the nation’s future that has overtaken too many of our intellectuals. . . . Taylor is the unusual economist who, much like Hayek, has a grasp of history and appreciates the lessons it teaches.” (Washington Examiner) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

John B. Taylor is the Raymond Professor of Economics at Stanford University and the George Shultz Senior Fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution. He was Treasury Under Secretary for International Affairs from 2001 to 2005.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1 edition (January 23, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393073394
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393073393
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 0.1 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #383,033 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

John B. Taylor is the George P. Shultz Senior Fellow in Economics at the Hoover Institution and the Mary and Robert Raymond Professor of Economics at Stanford University. He chairs the Hoover Working Group on Economic Policy and is director of Stanford's Introductory Economics Center.

Taylor's fields of expertise are monetary policy, fiscal policy, and international economics. His book Getting Off Track was one of the first on the financial crisis; his latest book, First Principles, develops an economic plan to restore America's prosperity.

Taylor served as senior economist on President Ford's and President Carter's Council of Economic Advisers, as a member of President George H. W. Bush's Council of Economic Advisers, and as a senior economic adviser to Bob Dole's presidential campaign, to George W. Bush's presidential campaign in 2000, and to John McCain's presidential campaign. He was a member of the Congressional Budget Office's Panel of Economic Advisers from 1995 to 2001. From 2001 to 2005, Taylor served as undersecretary of the Treasury for international affairs where he was responsible for currency markets, international development, for oversight of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, and for coordinating policy with the G-7 and G-20.

Taylor received the Bradley Prize from the Bradley Foundation and the Adam Smith Award from the National Association for Business Economics. He was awarded the Alexander Hamilton Award for his overall leadership at the US Treasury, the Treasury Distinguished Service Award for designing and implementing the currency reforms in Iraq, and the Medal of the Republic of Uruguay for his work in resolving the 2002 financial crisis. At Stanford he was awarded the George P. Shultz Distinguished Public Service Award, as well as the Hoagland Prize and the Rhodes Prize for excellence in undergraduate teaching. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Econometric Society; he formerly served as vice president of the American Economic Association.

Taylor formerly held positions as professor of economics at Princeton University and Columbia University. Taylor received a BA in economics summa cum laude from Princeton University in 1968 and a PhD in economics from Stanford University in 1973.

Customer Reviews

This book is well organized and lucidly presented.
Globus Pallidus
Just to say that a policy failed because the principles were not followed is simply not convincing.
I'm sure that you will enjoy and get great value from his insightful book.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

74 of 79 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on February 7, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Genius is about taking the difficult and making it simple. Many authors who attempt to tackle economic subjects fail the test. This book and this author pass with flying colors. John Taylor gets to the point. While other books promise 3-8 big answers, Taylor states his on page 18:

* Predictable policy framework
* Rule of law
* Strong incentives
* Reliance on markets
* Clearly limited role for government

He lays out the importance of these first principles of economic freedom to a well functioning economy. He then traces the history of how the economy has fared when the principles have been adhered to or ignored.
Pulling no punches, he identifies leaders of both major political parties who have either helped the economy or hurt it through adherence or violation of the principles.

Whether you agree with this author or not, he makes his statement with force and clarity. He has consistently called for consistent long term policies, policies which would best provide the business community with a basis for forward planning. His reasoning is clear and he supports his conclusions factually.

Taylor's years as a student of and participant in national economic decision making span the time from the Kennedy administration to the present. Few have been as well placed to shed light on our current economic problems, their origins and their potential cures.

The issues raised in this book are crucial to voters, retirees, business people, in fact, everyone in America who has an interest in how our nation fares in the future. His prescriptions are rational, supportable, and deserve national debate.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Eitic on March 11, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
In this election season when voters, at all levels of government, are trying to read the murky tea leaves to comprehend the beliefs and policies of various candidates, this book presents and explains five basic guideposts that can assist in forming your own perspective about what matters in the 2012 election. Predictable public policies, the rule of law, strong incentives, reliance on markets, and limited government are the bellwethers of American political thought. Basic economic and social objectives, job growth, innovation, and the need for an ever expanding gross domestic product to fund social costs, while keeping those costs under control, are the fundamental issues of greatest concern for most voters in 2012. In this 200 page book, Dr. Taylor has concisely and understandably presented an economic perspective on the convergence of basic principles of governance with the economic morass that is steadily enveloping our future. You may not agree with Dr. Taylor's prescriptions, but the issues that he outlines are indeed facing all of us and our children. If Dr. Taylor's proposals are not to your liking that does not absolve us, as voters, from seriously considering these very real problems and the terrible consequence of doing nothing. "First Principles" fairly and accurately presents the issues that are desperately in need of solutions. I hope that all candidates for public office in 2012 will read this book and consider the challenges that every elected official needs to be prepared to bravely confront. Dr. Taylor pointedly references the book "Reckless Endangerment", which chronicles the shocking policy failures and malfeasance that precipitated the financial crisis in 2008. In my view,"Reckless Endangerment" is also a must read for an informed 2012 voter and a prepared 2012 candidate.Read more ›
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By George Steeg on August 19, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I bought John Taylor's "First Principles: Five Keys to Restoring America's Prosperity" because George Schulz recommended it to Mitt Romney.

I found the book a strong testament to the principles of Friedman and Hayek. Taylor's First Principles, or Five Keys, are listed and partially expanded in his first chapter: Predictable Policy Framework, Rule of Law, Strong Incentives, Reliance on Markets, and Clearly Limited Role of Government. He expands on the first and last two, but he fails to expand Strong Incentives. He equates these principles to economic freedom, and in turn to economic success.

With these keys established as themes, I expected the book's structure to follow them even though "Incentives" was only partially introduced. The Table of Contents should have warned me otherwise. The book's structure is narrative, describing the how and why of our present economy with heavy emphasis on the role of Keynesian principles and interventions. Prescriptions for solutions are embedded in each narrative chapter. Although Taylor cites economic freedom frequently as motivation, he consistently misses opportunities to reiterate and reinforce, or thread, the five component themes of his title and first chapter into his narrative chapters. (For more on threading themes, go to [...].)

The title of the final paragraph in the last chapter is "What Can Be Done?" This was Taylor's last, and lost, opportunity to return to his five themes. The prescriptive answer to this question is buried in each of the previous narrative chapters. It's a fine book for the narratives that contrast Friedman's and Hayek's principles with Keynes' principles and with current policies. I would have found the book more useful and powerful if Taylor had threaded his themes.
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