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.
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 WhaleyCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved