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The Betrayal of American Prosperity: Free Market Delusions, America's Decline, and How We Must Compete in the Post-Dollar Era Hardcover – May 11, 2010

4.9 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

High profile Washington economist Prestowitz (Three Billion New Capitalists) finds hope in the present economic collapse, which he believes will spur abandonment (however reluctantly) of "Laissez Faire Gobalization." As a campaign advisor to President Obama and a principal trade negotiator for Reagan, Prestowitz has repeatedly warned against disregarding foreign competition ("thinking of the United States as number one") as the U.S. suffers "a rapid erosion of its productive base." Overreliance upon capital markets that were actually "a corrupt, over-leveraged, house of cards" has shifted the global balance of power to Japan, China and Europe, regions with protectionist policies that the U.S. has failed to counter. The genesis of this downhill slide can be found in Cold War principles-low taxes, deregulation, privatization-necessitated by the times, but which have become enshrined at the expense of the New Deal "private sector-government partnership" that led to America's 20th century prosperity. An important contribution to the political debate, Prestowitz's volume suggests a number of solutions-abolishing the dividend tax, imposing a value-added tax, incentivizing foreign investment in the U.S., and doubling federal support of innovative technologies-all likely to prove controversial on both sides of the political divide.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Has the economic vitality of the U.S. eroded so much that it cannot compete effectively against China, India, and other fast-growing economies? Prestowitz, consultant and former U.S. trade negotiator, thinks so, and he explains why in this challenging description of America’s fall from world leadership. Included among his reasons are the decline of the dollar, which has been the world’s main currency for carrying out international transactions; the “decisive shift in the global balance of power—away from the United States and toward East Asia and Europe . . . Brazil, India, Russia and Saudi Arabia”; and the scores of products and technologies against which the U.S. cannot compete. Prestowitz offers suggestions for restoring competitiveness, including instituting tax reform to increase government revenue; substantially revaluing “ a number of managed currencies versus the dollar and the euro over the next two to three years”; and reforming the World Trade Organization. All will not agree with the author, but his arguments are compelling. --Mary Whaley

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press; 1St Edition edition (May 11, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1439119791
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439119792
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #848,462 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Clyde Prestowitz provides a candid and thoughtful analysis of the economic challenges facing the United States as we move forward in a global economic environment that has been transformed as a result of the decisions and trade-offs made by past US government administrations. As a former chief trade negotiator to Asia during the Reagan administration, Prestowitz provides a unique historical perspective on the various trade policies and economic trade-offs we have made as a nation to support our geopolitical purposes across the globe. This historical perspective is provided in the first four chapters of the book through a non-partisan approach that clearly demonstrates this is an American problem that has been created by both political parties. During the historical analysis, Prestowitz provides a thorough and thought provoking analysis of the issues our early founders, particularly Hamilton and Jefferson, wrestled with in determining the role government should play in helping to foster the economic development of the new nation. Prestowitz's argument is a convincing analysis that demonstrates that the "American Way" as outlined by the Washington Consensus is a relatively new and distinctly different approach than that fostered by our founding fathers. In other words, the early economic policies and institutions that helped to make America the richest and most powerful nation in the history of the world stand in stark contrast to those promoted by political administrations of the past forty years.

While painting a candid but somewhat bleak picture of the present day economic posture of the United States, Prestowitz does not leave the reader without hope.
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Format: Hardcover
The author correctly identifies the two major problems that have been occurring since the late 1970's in the world economy-a nonsensical belief in an incoherent, intellectual monstrosity called " Free Trade " ,combined with massive Wall Street speculation and securitization based on debt leverage that was financed by a deliberately concentrated," too big to fail " private banking system created by Wall Street through a constant series of mergers,acquisitions and takeovers.
This has led to the deindustrialization of the United States through the hollowing out , downsizing,and off shoring of the manufacturing industrial sector and outsourcing of millions of American jobs.
The author correctly identifies this as the policy resulting from the application of theories taught at the libertarian economics department and Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago.

The author loses a half of star for his incorrect assessment of Adam Smith's analysis of trade in the Wealth of Nations (1776) that is presented on pp.434-439 of the Modern Library(Cannan) edition with the forward by Max Lerner. Smith was an advocate of both retaliatory and revenue tariffs.He put in place the largest revenue tariffs in history as the head of Customs in Scotland in 1780.Alexander Hamilton copied Smith in this regard in 1794. Protectionist tariffs would be dismantled in a prudent,judicious,slow, and gradual manner so as not to negatively impact the fixed capital stock and/or create possible unemployment problems. Smith's views on retaliatory tariffs is, in fact, the first application of a game theoretic probabilistic mixed strategies approach in history since retaliation would automatically be resorted to unless the probability of the repeal of the offending countries tariffs was equal to 0.
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Format: Hardcover
The Betrayal of American Prosperity is the best book in its genre. Clyde Prestowitz masterfully and meticulously explained the reasons behind an ailing American economy.

The book opens with a theme - recurrent thereafter - that the American economy was in fact not as strong as many Americans believed it to be. Prestowitz captured this in page 139: "The American myth: American analysts often disparage Japan's lost Decade, so I bet you'll be surprised to learn that during the 1990s Japan's 1.4 percent GDP per capita growth rate was only slightly less than America's 1.6 percent."

Taking life expectancy as an indicator of economic prosperity, he added: "In France it's 80.98 while in the United states it's 78.11, despite spending of double the French level on health care."

He concluded: "If Americans know one thing for sure, it is that America is a lot more competitive than France, except that in the wake of the crisis of 2008-9, the French economy has been outperforming the US economy on virtually every measure."

Prestowitz blamed the American understanding of economics for giving a false sense of prosperity over the past couple of decades. "Debt funded boom: As demonstrated by the 2008 financial meltdown, [superficially] the US economy... looked great, but behind the façade was debt piled on debt and a false understanding of how the world was actually working," he wrote [P.134].

"Key among the problems was that the low long-term interest rates which Greenspan thought had resulted from the efficiencies stemming from deregulation and innovative derivative instruments were actually caused by the ever-growing trade imbalance between the United States and the export-led economies of Asia and the Middle East oil producers," he added.
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