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Freefall: America, Free Markets, and the Sinking of the World Economy [Hardcover]

Joseph E. Stiglitz
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (114 customer reviews)

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Dick Hill gives just the everyman kind of reading to make Nobel Prize–winning economist Stiglitz's analysis of the financial collapse plainly comprehensible and a ripping good—if enraging—yarn. With harsh words for the right and the left, Reagan-era deregulations that set the stage for the catastrophe, the Fed's bungling, the high costs of the Iraq War, and President Obama's refusal to take stronger measures, Stiglitz is passionate and iconoclastic. Hill handles the financial intricacies with clarity and delivers the material with warmth, urgency, and erudition. A Norton hardcover. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

From Booklist

Written by a Nobel Prize recipient, a graduate of President Bill Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisors, and a stout advocate of Keynesian economics, this inquest into the recession of 2007–09 lashes many designated villains, banks above all. Writing in a spirit Andrew Jackson would have loved, Stiglitz assails financial institutions’ size, their executive compensation, the complexity of their financial instruments, and the taxpayer money that has been poured into them. But unlike Jackson, who didn’t understand a thing about economics, Stiglitz is a little more analytical. He dwells on incentives—perverse, in his argument—for risky financial legerdemain in housing mortgages. The temptations stemmed from deregulation of the financial industry, a Reaganesque policy Stiglitz rebukes: he favors re-regulation and more government involvement in the economy. In fact, Stiglitz waxes unhappily about the Obama administration’s interventions, which thus far have been inadequate in his view. Zinging the Federal Reserve for good measure, Stiglitz insistently and intelligently presses positions that challenge those of rightward-leaning economists upholding the virtues of markets. Amid animated contemporary economic debate, Stiglitz’s book will attract popular and professional attention. --Gilbert Taylor

Review

“Stiglitz is the world's leading scholarly expert on market failure, and this crisis vindicates his life's work. There have been other broad-spectrum books on the genesis and dynamics of the collapse, but Freefall is the most comprehensive to date, grounded in both theory and factual detail…. the definitive critique to date of how the Summers-Geithner strategy fails, both as economics and as politics…. The tone of this book is good-humored and public-minded.” (Robert Kuttner - The American Prospect)

“Asks some basic and provocative questions… Freefall is a must-read for anyone seeking to understand the roots of the financial crisis. Stiglitz brilliantly analyzes the economic reasons behind the banking collapse, but he goes much further, digging down to the wrongheaded national faith in the power of free markets to regulate themselves and provide wealth for all.” (Chuck Leddy - Boston Globe)

“Mr. Stiglitz uses his experience teaching to give the lay reader a lucid account of how overleveraged banks, a shoddy mortgage industry, predatory lending and unregulated trading contributed to the meltdown, and how, in his opinion, ill-conceived rescue efforts may have halted the freefall but have failed to grapple with more fundamental problems…. His prescience lends credibility to his trenchant analysis of the causes of the fiscal meltdown.” (Michiko Kakutani - The New York Times)

“As a Nobel Prize winner, member of the cabinet under former President Bill Clinton and chairman of his Council of Economic Advisers, Joseph E. Stiglitz has some practical ideas on how to ease the pain of the Great Recession and maybe help prevent the next one.” (Carl Hartman - Associated Press)

Freefall is a spirited attack on Wall Street, the free market and the Washington consensus.” (David Smith - The Times [London])

“Stiglitz offers a powerful account of the financial meltdown and criticizes the Obama Administration for 'muddling through' rather than pushing aggressively for change…. An excellent overview from a Nobel prize-winning economist of what caused the crisis and what reforms should be enacted…. I can only hope Obama makes room for it on his nightstand.” (James Pressley - BusinessWeek)

“[W]hat brings this book to life is his formidable grasp of economic policy and strong sense of conviction about the blunders that have been made, especially with respect to the bank bailouts.” (Jim Zarroli, NPR business reporter - NPR)

About the Author

Winner of the 2001 Nobel Memorial Prize for Economics, Joseph E. Stiglitz is the best-selling author of Making Globalization Work; Globalization and Its Discontents; and, with Linda Bilmes, The Three Trillion Dollar War. He was chairman of President Clinton's Council of Economic Advisers and served as senior vice president and chief economist at the World Bank. He teaches at Columbia University and lives in New York City.

From AudioFile

The financial crisis has spawned a raft of audiobooks, but few are as lucid, constructive, and fair-minded as this one. A Nobel laureate and former chief economist at the World Bank, Stiglitz is a remarkably clear thinker and writer. While his liberal views won't be shared by every listener, he's equally critical of both the Obama and Bush administrations' handling of the debacle. Dick Hill's narration is spot- on: perfectly paced, warm, and comfortable with the material. (Unlike many people, he pronounces "Keynes" correctly.) Hill mirrors the author's conversational style, his exasperation and humor, and even his moralizing tone as Stiglitz lays out his suggestions for how America must respond to the sins of the financial industry. D.B. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award © AudioFile 2010, Portland, Maine --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
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