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Rational Exuberance: Silencing the Enemies of Growth and Why the Future Is Better Than You Think Hardcover – May 11, 2004

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About the Author

Michael J. Mandel is chief economist of BusinessWeek. For more than a decade, his cover stories have ignited national debate on topics from crime to the New Economy to budget deficits. He is the author of The High-Risk Society and The Coming Internet Depression. He holds a Ph.D. in economics from Harvard University and taught at New York University's Stern School of Business before joining BusinessWeek.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Collins (May 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060580496
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060580490
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,892,386 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Charles Ashbacher HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 5, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This is a book where I agree with the main premise, but dislike many of the conclusions as well as the delivery. The main premise is that the periods of great technological change are times of great economic growth, which is something that is very hard to disagree with. From this, the author argues that all policies should favor the development of new technologies and takes a few shots at the people he thinks are opposed to such policies. Unfortunately, his arguments are shallow and unclear.
First and foremost, he neglects history. The onset of the industrial revolution was an era of great technological advancement and led to a dramatic increase in wealth. However, we cannot forget many of the consequences of this advancement. In England, it led to rapid loss of their forests and in the industrial regions, the air was so dirty from the smokestacks that people could barely see. I remember reading of an instance where a lengthy weather pattern that kept the pollution in an English city led to thousands of deaths. There is also a classic case in the United States where a river was so polluted that it actually caught fire. Therefore, some of those he classifies as enemies of growth are asking the very important questions that need to be asked concerning the consequences of technological improvements.
Mandel also derides those who preach against MASSIVE federal budget deficits. He quotes former secretary of commerce Peter Peterson, who said in 2003 "When such deficits are incurred in order to fund a rising transfer from young to old, they also constitute an injustice against further generations." Mandel's next sentence is "This is the language of morality, rather than economics.
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25 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Gaetan Lion on May 11, 2004
Format: Hardcover
In September of 2000, Mandel released his first book "The Coming Internet Depression." Then, he stated that the stocks were going to take a beating. In fact, the NASDAQ had already imploded in the first quarter of 2000. Mandel thought this event would have dire economic consequences for decades. However, we never experienced a "Depression." Instead we experienced the mildest recession on record. In other words, Mandel's judgment at the time was way too "Depressed." This time around, Mandel's judgment is way too "Exuberant."
Much of what Mandel says is correct. The U.S. economy remains the World's powerhouse of innovation. Our society is better at developing and implementing innovations. This is due to our being accepting of risk, our flexible labor markets, our entrepreneurship climate, and our capital markets for financing innovation being unparalleled. So far, Mandel is right.
He continues his case along the "New Economy" theory, whereby our unprecedented level of innovation will have long lived benefit including superior labor productivity and economic growth for decades to come. This is correct, and is a truism by now. This theory is seventy years old, as first stated by Joseph Schumpeter, an Austrian economist who passed away in 1950. His brilliant concept was "creative destruction." This is where new technologies displace jobs, but replaces these by higher value added ones. Mandel also believes that our economic sustainable economic growth rate is much higher than we have historically thought. Well, Alan Greenspan has said the same thing for years, and has actually implemented his vision with his lacks monetary policy. Thus, in terms of technology and economic growth much of what Mandel says is true.
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Format: Hardcover
The author anticipates his naysayers. He is, after all, urging a kind of attitude towards rapid and continued growth that goes beyond current expectations, models, and infrastructure. He sees the boom and bubble of the nineties as a good thing and something more than something that burst from corruption and accounting malfeasance.

He comes up with an idea he calls a pulsating market. Mandel thinks we out to embrace the booms and their busts and thinks that the downside can be minimized while more of the upside can be captured on a permanent basis. He spends much of the book talking about areas for economic expansion that might provide opportunities for innovation and rapid economic growth. These include bio-medical, space, energy, telecom, and nanotechnology. I say, GOOD LUCK!

I cannot buy into the author's premise that the possibility of a new boom means that all we need to do is correct our attitude to make it so. The real world is not a sick Tinkerbell waiting for us to believe. Yes, there is a component of attitude and mass psychology. But there is more to the story than he really explains in the book. The railroads did speed the continental expansion, but a great many people lost a great deal of money (and a few made fortunes).

However, I do agree with him that government is used by those who benefit from the current infrastructure in order to suppress change and competition. Politicians and interested parities argue against innovation in the name of protecting jobs, keeping prices stable, and so forth. So, we could do more to promote growth by freeing the economy more. Yes, there would be more "creative destruction" to accompany the creative growth.
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