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After the New Economy Hardcover – October, 2003

4.1 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The tongue-in-cheek style of Left Business Observer editor Henwood's latest book is evident in the title, as Henwood believes little was novel about the economic boom of the 1990s. Techno-utopianism, as he puts it, is a recurring theme in the U.S. culture, and by picking through the ashes of this latest economic meltdown, Henwood (Wall Street: How It Works and For Whom) finds many choice nuggets to support his call for an end to the class warfare that he finds lurking beneath the torrent of New Economy discourse. After stating his general disdain for the "dismal science," Henwood cobbles together data from all specializations of economics to support his thesis. His analysis, not bound by the restrictions of economic theory and its complex interplay with demographics and history, implies that the social democracies of Scandinavia should serve as a model for the more "liberal" systems of national governance. It's not a new theory, and Henwood does not get into the specifics of practice. He does, however, offer a perspective absent from most popular inquiries into recent economic realities-specifically, a gloomy forecast of a return to the low growth and global malaise of the 1970s coupled with the death of neo-liberalism. He uses that as a launching pad for delving into the simultaneity of the Reagan bull market with what he says was the erosion of well being for the average American, as well as for the majority of the world's people. The core of the book is the journey Henwood takes from boom to bust via a materialist analysis of the injustices inherent in postwar capitalist societies, injustices amplified and highlighted by the excesses if the 1990s. In the death knell of the "new economy" is the call to create a "civilized welfare state."
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.


Henwood has the natural-born teacher's ability to make the obscure transparent. -- The Nation

If Karl Marx wrote as well as Doug Henwood, who knows what course history might have taken. -- James Grant

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 269 pages
  • Publisher: New Press; First Edition edition (October 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1565847709
  • ISBN-13: 978-1565847705
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.3 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,818,314 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Doug Henwood announced this book (his follow-up to "Wall Street") back when the so-called New Economy was still around.
Those of us who read his Left Business Observer newsletter waited impatiently for over five years.
It was worth the wait. Henwood starts off just where you'd expect --- poking fun at the Internet revolutionaries, the intellectual
frauds who claimed the US economy had reached a new age.
Then he gets into the numbers. Oh man, does he have numbers. Chapters two and three are all about productivity, income, and
wealth. He gives you a few statistics, he explains what they mean, and then he tells you that the numbers can't be trusted. (He has a habit of saying, "What does this all mean? Honestly, no one knows. But I'll make an educated guess.") This kind of
humility is rare among economists. He forces you to form your own opinion about the accuracy of the numbers and their
Despite the constant caveats, a clear picture emerges. The US economy is deeply integrated into the world economy, with Third
World patterns of wealth and worker control developing right here in the First World. Although the US is still more comfortable
than, say, Colombia, it's falling behind countries like Belgium and France. Divisions of wealth, a pathetic social safety net, and weak unions keep an overworked, low-paid, insecure workforce in their place.
Then he turns to globalization. This chapter has a few problems. Henwood likes cosmopolitanism --- the social form of
globalization. And he says the international economy has been around for over a century, so we shouldn't treat it like something new.
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By A Customer on November 15, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Although this book is an "excercise in kicking the thing [the concept of the New Economy] while it's down, to make sure it won't get up again," Henwood is more interested in finding ways to think about recent economic history than in assaulting the proponents of the New Economy.
He divides his analysis into 5 general themes:
"novelty" (economics should be viewed historically so as to identify both the old and the new, both patterns and changes);
"work" (productivity gains do not clearly show up in increased wages or increased profits and have not led to better jobs for most workers);
"income" (income and wealth disparities continue to exist and inequality continues along racial, gender and national divisions; and workers are not as upwardly mobile as we would like to believe);
"globalization" (a concept about as fuzzy as the "New Economy," whether used by its advocates or its enemies, that often obscures thoughtful consideration of the long-standing and long-increasing international reach of the economy); and
"finance" (the increase in the number of financial assets and especially the increaed speed at which they trade in the financial markets may have less to do with smart investment in productive activities than in benefitting financial managers and top executives and in increasing profits of already-financed companies).
Henwood suggests that the bursting of the New Economy bubble is likely to have long-term effects that will lead to continued polarization of income/wealth, insecurity, etc.
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Format: Hardcover
Henwood does a superb job of illuminating many of the ironies of the Ninties, whether simply quoting George Gilder (who Henwood notes, rivals Whitman as an exuberant list-maker) or pointing out that the phrase "New Economy" was first used by President Reagan in a speech at Moscow State University.
Too good to be true--but it is.
And Henwood underlines how, from the very beginning, the New Economy rested on a flight from the physical world. He quotes Reagan: "In the new eocnomy human invention increasingly makes natural resources obsolete."
While the Bush admnistration's environmental policy could be read as an attempt to fulfill Reagan's dream, world markets are now telling us that natural resources are far from out of vogue. Copper, gold, silver, oil, wheat--today, this is where wealth resides. Demand for these resources is rising in parts of the world where higher productivity actually means higher standards of living for a significant number of people.
By contrast, Henwood shows how, in the West,the productivity revolution of the Nineties produced more, always more, of things that, in many cases, we don't need and couldn't afford.The miracle? They were doing it with fewer people. Jobs vanish (though Henwood shows, low-wage jobs are growing at nice clip), debt mounts, the dollar declines.
And, he notes, in some cases what we produce may even lower the standard of living: "The contribution of the brokerage industry to productivity was mainly web-based trading; how much it contributes to human welfare is debatable. The more people trade, the worse they do (though it makes their brokers happier.
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