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The Price of Inequality: How Today's Divided Society Endangers Our Future [Kindle Edition]

Joseph E. Stiglitz
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (365 customer reviews)

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Book Description

A forceful argument against America's vicious circle of growing inequality by the Nobel Prize–winning economist.


America currently has the most inequality, and the least equality of opportunity, among the advanced countries. While market forces play a role in this stark picture, politics has shaped those market forces. In this best-selling book, Nobel Prize–winning economist Joseph E. Stiglitz exposes the efforts of well-heeled interests to compound their wealth in ways that have stifled true, dynamic capitalism. Along the way he examines the effect of inequality on our economy, our democracy, and our system of justice. Stiglitz explains how inequality affects and is affected by every aspect of national policy, and with characteristic insight he offers a vision for a more just and prosperous future, supported by a concrete program to achieve that vision.


Editorial Reviews

Review

“The single most comprehensive counterargument to both Democratic neoliberalism and Republican laissez-faire theories. While credible economists running the gamut from center right to center left describe our bleak present as the result of seemingly unstoppable developments—globalization and automation, a self-replicating establishment built on 'meritocratic' competition, the debt-driven collapse of 2008—Stiglitz stands apart in his defiant rejection of such notions of inevitability. He seeks to shift the terms of the debate.” (Thomas B. Edsall - New York Times Book Review)

“An impassioned argument backed by rigorous economic analysis.” (Kirkus Reviews)

About the Author

Joseph E. Stiglitz received his PhD from MIT in 1967, became a full professor at Yale in 1970, and was awarded the John Bates Clark Award in 1979, which is given biennially by the American Economic Association to an economist under 40 who has made the most significant contribution to the field. He has taught at Princeton, Stanford, and MIT, and was the Drummond Professor and a fellow of All Souls College, Oxford. He is now a professor at Columbia University and co-chair of Columbia University's Committee on Global Thought. He is also the co-founder and co-president of the Initiative for Policy Dialogue at Columbia. In 2001, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in economics for his analyses of markets with asymmetric information, and was a lead author of the 1995 Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. In 2011, Time named Professor Stiglitz one of the 100 most influential people in the world. Professor Stiglitz was a member of the Council of Economic Advisers from 1993–95, during the Clinton administration, and served as its chairman from 1995–97. He then became chief economist and senior vice president of the World Bank from 1997–2000. In 2008, he was asked by the French President Nicolas Sarkozy to chair the Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress, which released its final report in September 2009. In 2009, he was appointed by the President of the United Nations General Assembly as chair of the Commission of Experts on Reform of the International Financial and Monetary System, which also released its report in September 2009. Professor Stiglitz helped create a new branch of economics—The Economics of Information—exploring the consequences of information asymmetries and pioneering such pivotal concepts as adverse selection and moral hazard, which have now become standard tools not only for theorists but also for policy analysts. He has made major contributions to the theories of welfare economics and of income and wealth distribution, and his work has helped explain the circumstances in which markets do not work well and how selective government intervention can improve market performance. Recognized around the world as a leading economic educator, Professor Stiglitz has written books that have been translated into more than a dozen languages. He also founded one of the leading economics journals, The Journal of Economic Perspectives. His book, Globalization and Its Discontents (Norton, 2001), has been translated into 35 languages and has sold more than a million copies worldwide. Other recent books include The Roaring Nineties (Norton); Towards a New Paradigm in Monetary Economics (Cambridge University Press), with Bruce Greenwald; Fair Trade for All (Oxford University Press), with Andrew Charlton; Making Globalization Work (Norton and Penguin/ Allen Lane, 2006); The Three Trillion Dollar War: The True Cost of the Iraq Conflict (Norton and Penguin/ Allen Lane, 2008), with Linda Bilmes at Harvard University; Freefall: America, Free Markets, and the Sinking of the World Economy (Norton and Penguin/ Allen Lane, 2010); and The Price of Inequality: How Today's Divided Society Endangers Our Future (Norton and Penguin/ Allen Lane, 2012).

Product Details

  • File Size: 851 KB
  • Print Length: 560 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1 edition (April 8, 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007MKCQ30
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  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #16,956 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
429 of 461 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Critical Warning for America June 8, 2012
By Adam
Format:Hardcover
The Price of Inequality is an eloquent analysis of inequality in the United States and what it means for our political system, economy and society. The book does a good job of laying out the facts.

One sentence basically says it all: "The top 1 percent of Americans gained 93 percent of the additional income created in the country in 2010, as compared with 2009." Now think of that in terms of a party with 100 people and big pizza with 100 slices. Basically it means that one rich guy gobbles up 93 slices of pizza. The other 99 get to divvy up the other seven.

Stiglitz does an especially good job of refuting the received wisdom among conservatives: that incomes are in proportion to productive contribution to society. Instead, the book shows that much of our extraordinary income concentration is due to "rent seeking" by the wealthy elite, and that very often this involves taking advantage of taxpayers. We have a system that actively redistributes income and wealth from huge numbers of people at the bottom of the pyramid to a tiny number at the very top.

As the book shows, extreme income inequality is really a kind of cancer that infects almost every aspect of our social, political, economic and even legal system. A tiny elite is able to effectively purchase laws and regulations that work in its favor. For example, bankruptcy laws are designed to favor banks over homeowners and holders of student debt, even though the banks have access to much better information and expertise when making these loans. One idea that occurs throughout the book is that we should have "one person one vote" not "one dollar one vote." and yet the evidence is clear we are moving toward even more influence for those with money.
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235 of 258 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful and persuasive June 8, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Income inequality and wealth inequality have skyrocketed in the last 30 years. There is no dispute about this, but there are disputes over both the causes of this phenomenon and its effects.

In one sentence summary for those of you who like a very short review, this book has a threefold agenda. First to document the widely accessible and now well-known phenomenon of inequality, second to explain its cause and third understand its effects.

Also note that Stiglitz's book is very much an elaboration of his 2011 Vanity Fair article "Of the 1%, for the 1%, by the 1%." This article provides an excellent summary of the basic argument.

For those of you who like a longer review I will now provide a rather lengthy summary for those interested in the crucial issues of inequality, which are the root cause of the Occupy movement (see Richard Wolff excellent book _Occupy the Economy_, Occupy the Economy: Challenging Capitalism (City Lights Open Media)) and global tensions (see James K. Galbraith's indispensable _Inequality and Instability_, Inequality and Instability: A Study of the World Economy Just Before the Great Crisis).

Stiglitz's book is really two books, the first book is 290 pages of very well argued and accessible text aimed at the above threefold agenda. The second book is 100 pages of notes, documentation, and very excellent citations and references. My review will concentrate on the text.

In chapter one Stiglitz emphasizes that the phenomena of income inequality has been occurring well before the financial crisis of 2008.
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580 of 674 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Spot-on diagnosis, but weak medicine? June 14, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I'm generally a Republican voter who leans toward the small businessperson's agenda of favoring small government and the lowest practical amounts of taxes and governmental regulations. However, several things have challenged my view in recent years:

* The financial collapse of 2008 took most all of us by surprise. We didn't realize how fragile our economy was or how easily it could be brought to the very brink of complete meltdown. The progress of economic recovery has also been astonishingly slow and even now the prospect of another leg down seems to be looming.

* As a student of economics I am familiar with how old-time Progressives approached the depressions of the late 1800s and early 1900s. They recognized that the primary problem was an imbalance between production and consumption. Consumers did not earn enough income to purchase the goods and services that the capitalists produced. They understood that producers and consumers must prosper together, so they lobbied to raise the minimum wage, require the payment of premiums for overtime hours, encourage the formation of labor unions, and enact Social Security and Unemployment programs to provide a floor under purchasing power when the economy went slack. Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal was based on these ideas of raising consumer's purchasing power. I believe they did stabilize the economy in the 1930s and were the basis of our post-WWII prosperity.

* I'm a Reagan Conservative who believes that Reagan's Supply Side agenda of cutting taxes was correct economic policy in the 1980s. However, it is a much different thing to cut maximum marginal taxes from 70% to 28% as Reagan did than to cut them from 39% to 15% (capital gains and dividends) as Bush did.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Good book.
Published 11 days ago by Robert W. Owens
5.0 out of 5 stars Lots of information that every sincere American should know and ...
Lots of information that every sincere American should know and act upon if we are to be a self governing democracy.
Published 13 days ago by Richard Williams
3.0 out of 5 stars A Conservative Reader's Reaction
Professor Stiglitz offers a penetrating criticism of business and government but is too optimistic about government solutions. Read more
Published 14 days ago by Jeffrey Decker
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
very educating and useful for the US collective conscience, should be widely read
Published 14 days ago by ulf
3.0 out of 5 stars Inequality is Not the Problem
Joseph Stiglitz is one of the greatest economists of our time, a Nobel Prize winner, former head of the World Bank and Chairman of the President’s Council of Economic Advisors. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Herbert Gintis
4.0 out of 5 stars Buy the audio book version
While I felt this book could have been an article (many points were redundant and the author certainly repeated himself), I actually felt enlightened with some of Stiglitz's points... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Derek Zweig
5.0 out of 5 stars A really amazing discussion of the most important threat to our...
A really amazing discussion of the most important threat to our economy and suggestions as to its solution. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Alex Caemmerer Jr.
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great book.
Published 1 month ago by wyomike
3.0 out of 5 stars something to consider
With the middle class losing ground , the author claims opportunity in America is fading away. He gives ways to make certain we don't end up an oligopoly where only a few elite... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Travel the road
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must Read
The information is very thorough and well researched. We read it for our book club and found the writing style a bit repetitive, but we were all glad to get the information and... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Janice R. Clark
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More About the Author

Joseph E. Stiglitz is a professor of economics at Columbia University and the recipient of a John Bates Clark Medal and a Nobel Prize. He is also the former senior vice president and chief economist of the World Bank. His books include Globalization and Its Discontents, The Three Trillion Dollar War, and Making Globalization Work. He lives in New York City.

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