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Agenda for a New Economy: From Phantom Wealth to Real Wealth Paperback – February 1, 2009

4.1 out of 5 stars 38 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“It’s time for a fundamentally new economic model—Agenda for a New Economy is a much-needed road map for those ready to get started.”
—Annie Leonard, author and host of The Story of Stuff
 
“At last, a book by one of our most brilliant economic thinkers that outlines the real causes of—and solutions to—the current economic crisis.”
—John Perkins, New York Times bestselling author of Confessions of an Economic Hit Man
 
“A thought-provoking, comprehensive, and readable reappraisal of the great economic and market challenge of our time.”  
—David Brancaccio, PBS host
 
“Finally a bold Obama-era agenda that soars above the mild reforms that are grabbing daily headlines and actually meets the daunting challenges posed by the Wall Street and planetary crises.”
—John Cavanagh, Director, Institute for Policy Studies
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Publisher

A Declaration of Independence from Wall Street

"At last, a book by one of our most brilliant economic thinkers that outlines the real causes of--and solutions to--the current economic crisis."
--John Perkins, New York Times bestselling author of Confessions of an Economic Hit Man

"The most important book to emerge thus far on the economic crisis."
--Peter Barnes, cofounder of Working Assets and author of Capitalism 3.0

"David Korten has provided an economic blueprint for the 21st century."
--Judy Wicks, cofounder and chair, Business Alliance for Local Living Economies

"No one should be surprised that David Korten is the first great thinker to assemble a detailed road map for a new economy where people, the planet, and communities come first."
--John Cavanagh, Director of the Institute for Policy Studies

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 196 pages
  • Publisher: Berrett-Koehler Publishers; English Language edition (February 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1605092894
  • ISBN-13: 978-1605092898
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.6 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,829,596 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By R. A. Letcher on April 11, 2009
Format: Paperback
BOOK REVIEW: Agenda for a New Economy: From Phantom Wealth to Real Wealth, by David C. Korten.

Let me begin this review by emphasizing: I agree with almost every detail of the agenda Dr. Korten presents. Please allow me to say that again: I agree with almost every detail of the agenda Dr. Korten presents.

Yet, with regret, I can recommend this book only to those people who are not already familiar with Dr. Korten's work. To begin with, the main title could be rewritten as "yet another agenda for new economy". Also, the promotional blurb at the top of the front cover mischaracterizes the actual content. In its current form, it reads: "Why Wall Street can't be fixed and how to replace it". In my view, the actual text better supports substantives than practices. So, I would suggest instead, "Why Wall Street can't be fixed and what to replace it with"--with "how" left out.

But that's what Dr. Korten has been writing about for a long time, beginning with his contribution to the edited collection Alternatives to Economic Globalization A Better World Is Possible (2002), through his recent The Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community (2006). Most of his readers agree that Wall Street is broken and can't be fixed; the really pressing question isn't "what to replace it with", but "how to go about replacing it"--most likely, I acknowledge, toward some variation of Dr. Korten's "Agenda". What we need is a book of practical suggestions for getting from here to there, in the face of serious, determined, and supremely well-prepared and even better funded opposition; not another book of agenda items.

Here's why I keep harping on this.
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Format: Paperback
"Agenda for a New Economy," by David Korten is a valuable discussion of how there needs to be paradigm shift in the way we view Wall Street and the structure of the overall economy. Korten builds upon some of the major themes of his previous book, "The Great Turning," in calling for an economic system that measures wealth less on the fiat currency system and more on families, communities, healthy children, and environmental health. There has been plenty written about the corruption of Wall Street and the inequality the system breeds, but very little has been offered in the way of giving folks a blueprint of sorts for an alternative system that values people over an unstable monetary system. That is, until now.

One of the more interesting points in the book is the discussion of the nature of wealth. Korten refers to the current measure of wealth as "phantom wealth,' in which he lays out a case for its replacement with "real wealth." He makes this case quite well. Korten even goes so far as to call for the elimination of Wall Street. This idea will likely shock most readers. The immediate response is to think, "This guy is off his rocker! He must be naïve. Can that really happen?" Korten, a former business professor at Harvard, is no lightweight when it comes to economic theory. In "Agenda for a New Economy" Korten harkens back to the original ideas espoused by the father capitalism, Adam Smith. What we have now is not the same type of market system envisioned by Smith. Adam Smith would be shocked at all the tinkering and smoke and mirrors engrained in the current system. Korten elaborates on the many virtues of getting back to the basics of a market economy and true capitalism. He terms his vision as the replacing of Wall Street with "Main Street.
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6 Comments 76 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Paperback
Korten begins by asking "What do Wall Street institutions do that is so vital that it justifies spending trillions to save them from their own excesses?" "Might there be other ways to provide necessary and beneficial services with greater effectiveness and at lesser cost?"

Our government has come to believe it should no longer be concerned with producing real wealth - goods and services with utility; instead, we can grow our economy faster with less exertion by securitizing real assets and pumping their value up. Unfortunately, asset bubbles create only phantom wealth that increases the claims of the holder to a society's existing real wealth, and dilutes the claims of everyone else. We need to move from a Wall Street focus (making money, using global financial capital) to a Main Street focus (creating livelihoods, using local/national capital).

In 1950, manufacturing accounted for 29.3% of U.S. GDP, vs. financial services' 10.9%. By 2005, manufacturing contributed only 12% to GDP and financial services were at 20.4%. By 2008, financial services was the largest U.S. economic sector.

Achieving this required removing restrictions on debt/equity ratios, consumer interest rates, lending practices (eg. special charges), relaxing financial reporting standards, and creating financial conglomerates. In 2006, U.S. financial sector debt (largely financial institution loans to other financial institutions to leverage their financial speculations, totaled $14 trillion - 32% of U.S. debt, and 107% of U.S. GDP. (This was money NOT available to improve production.) When Lehman Brothers collapsed, it was leveraged 35:1.

In 2007, the 50 highest-paid investment fund managers averaged $588 million in annual compensation - 19,000X that of the average worker.
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