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The Roaring Nineties: A New History of the World's Most Prosperous Decade Hardcover – October 1, 2003

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1 edition (October 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393058522
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393058529
  • Product Dimensions: 9.8 x 6.7 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,201,704 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

As an economic adviser to President Clinton and a World Bank official, Nobel Prize winner Stiglitz (Globalization and Its Discontents) had a front-row seat for the financial boom of the 1990s. He discusses how, contrary to all theory, reducing the national deficit led to the economic upswing, but his interest lies not in how the bubble happened but in those qualities that eventually led to its collapse. One of his chief arguments is that although efficient markets depend upon the free flow of information, deregulation enabled corporations like Enron to present distorted financial data, "stealing money from their unwary shareholders" in the process. Financial analysts also withheld frank assessments from investors to maintain their insider status, and the "conflicts of interest gone out of control" inevitably led to disaster. The book suggests Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan could have slowed things down, but failed to back up tentative public remarks with firm action. The Clinton administration also comes in for some of the blame for pressuring foreign countries to adopt policies it wouldn't apply to its own economy. But the largest portion of the blame is doled out to George W. Bush for mishandling the initial stages of the recession, allowing it to spiral dangerously in the name of free markets. Instead, Stiglitz calls for just enough regulation to promote what he dubs "Democratic Idealism," a fairly standard liberal platform of social justice and economic reform. Whatever one thinks of his long-term goals, the straightforward and well-reasoned summation of the last decade's market trends has a convincing ring of truth.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Stiglitz, a Nobel Prize-winning economist and academic who served in the Clinton administration, reflects on his experiences in Washington and what he learned there. Among his many themes, he declares his beliefs that government should play a major (if limited) oversight role in the markets and that it should be an advocate for social justice. He feels that the rule of finance in the 1990s was supreme and government deferred too much to Wall Street; the prosperity and growth of that decade laid the foundation for today's economic problems, including too much deregulation, inadequate accounting standards, and pandering to corporate greed. Issues of globalization concern him greatly, and he analyzes the current situation in America and other developed countries and suggests future action. Although critical of Clinton-era policies, he reserves much harsher analysis for both Bush administrations. Stiglitz believes that citizens must understand the basic issues confronting our society and the way their government works; this book^B is an excellent primer. Mary Whaley
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

68 of 75 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 31, 2003
Format: Hardcover
It's easy to see why this book might be difficult for those from the conservative school of economics. Stiglitz - a Nobel Prize winner - is not a simple man, and neither are his ideas and theories; like economics itself, this book covers complex issues and problems that cannot be solved by a mere sweeping ideology of "taxes are bad" and "deregulation is good."
While the ideas Stiglitz explores are complex, the book is nothing near an impossible or dry read - to the contrary. Stiglitz's premise is clear: While there will probably always be cycles of boom and bust, and bubbles like those of the 90s will burst, policies still matter and are important. It is policies that can help lengthen expansions and shorten recessions, and help us through cycles of boom and bust.
This book is a fascinating read. It's especially terrific if you're looking for a book that links economics and policies in a cohesive, understandable way, and doesn't just speak about one at a time. Stiglitz does an excellent job of showing how the two are intimately intertwined.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Wayne Klein HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 28, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I profited just as much as the next person from the booming business in the 90's. I also was one of its victims. We all were and, as usual, there we're federal policies, greedy individuals and corporations and dishonesty that when mixed in with the prosperity helped undermine it. Certainly there are always periods of booms and busts--it's how we deal with aftermath and the excesses that matter.
Stiglitz's well written book examines the process of creation and the decay and corruption that can help undo these bursts of economic activity. Stiglitz doesn't point the finger at any one group of individuals more than another--he feels comfortable doling out the blame where it belongs and Washington is just as much a target as corporate America. Without the political stilts to support economic circus we all participate in, it would never happen. As a reflection on what's wrong (and occasionally right) with America's political and economic system, The Roaring Nineties is unstinting look at the harshness and ugliness underneath the system. It's also a book that argues for reform in a way to keep the economy moving without allowing criminal profiteering.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Rolf Dobelli HALL OF FAME on March 2, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Only a Nobel Prize-winning economist could disguise a political broadside against conservatives and the George W. Bush administration inside a Trojan horse mea culpa of the Bill Clinton White House. No one could argue with Joseph Stiglitz's assertion that an effective modern economy must strike a reasonable balance between free markets and government oversight - but what is reasonable? Stiglitz regrets what is arguably the shining achievement of the Clinton Administration, namely, its success in balancing the U.S. budget. Credit him for consistency: he opposed Clinton's tax cut, just as he opposed George W. Bush's. Stiglitz's academic and professional chops are beyond question, and his insights into corporate welfare and inefficient markets are quite valuable if somewhat short of profound. We find that this volume provides strong insights into the inner workings of the American economic juggernaut. Your reaction will depend whether you agree or disagree with the author's contentions that the Clinton Administration was not liberal enough and that the present Bush Administration believes in small government.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Sutirtha Bagchi on January 5, 2006
Format: Paperback
All together an absolutely riveting book put together by someone who's seen it all and been there. Few academics, indeed very few, have had the ringside view as Joseph Stiglitz had, first as the Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers from 1993 to 1997 and then Sr. Vice President and Chief Economist at the World Bank from 1997 to 200. And all this on top of a sterling academic career at places like Stanford, Princeton and Columbia which earned him a Nobel in 2001-all in all, an absolutely sterling set of credentials.

The book in itself is completely riveting. I started reading it at about 9 p.m. on a lazy January evening during the holidays and could not put it down till 3 a.m. when I was finally finished. The book is structured into several different chapters, 12 in total, the first 11 of which talk about the ills that plagued the free market system in the decade of the 1990s. In the final chapter, to round it all up, he proposes a set of alternative ways and means labeling it as the "New Democratic Idealism." All the usual suspects that you would expect to find in a book critical of free markets are there such as Enron, the accounting scandals, the stock market bubble and capital account liberalization. But then there are things which you would not expect in a typical book, for instance, a fairly critical stance on the role played by the Fed, including its venerable chairman, Alan Greenspan as also a harsh scrutiny of several practices at Wall Street which involved serious conflicts of interest.
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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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