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Pinched: How the Great Recession Has Narrowed Our Futures and What We Can Do About It Hardcover – August 9, 2011
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Six Principles to Guide Our Recovery Efforts
1. The problems created by the most-severe recessions are typically bigger and longer-lasting than they first appear. Every year that goes by while masses of people are trapped and idled due to housing woes and high unemployment is not merely one lost year--it’s a loss that’s paid forward into future years as well, an accumulating deficit of skill, character, and regenerative ability that will restrain America’s growth potential for many years to come.
“Fascinating…An important, far-thinking consideration of the reverberations--social, political, psychological--of the financial crash.” --Publishers Weekly (starred)
“Books attempting to explain the economic situation are a dime a dozen these days, but my pennies go to Pinched. Shorn of jargon, this tightly written book distinguishes itself from the crowd…It's great to find a book that identifies solutions, not just problems.” --Chicago Tribune (Editor's Choice)
“Outstanding. PINCHED has the potential to be a defining book about this era economically, how we should think about it, and what we should do about it. It does a better, clearer job of explaining this painful period than anything I've read recently. Don Peck puts together the pieces of today’s puzzle—the gender effects, the generational effects, the political ramifications of a slowing economy—in a way that makes obvious sense, once he has pointed them out. This is a wonderfully helpful and clarifying book.” --James Fallows
"A gripping and sobering account of the true costs of the financial boom-bust cycle, full of sensible analysis and level-headed suggestions. Policymakers on both sides of the aisle will ignore this book at their peril. Read PINCHED and run for office yourself." --Simon Johnson, Professor of Entrepreneurship at MIT Sloan School of Management, and co-author of 13 Bankers: The Wall Street Takeover and The Next Financial Meltdown
"Every era has its politico-economic text. Don Peck may well have written the one for the post financial crisis era. His concerns for what a weak economy will leave in its wake are proper and pressing. We would make wiser policy if every policymaker read this brilliant book." --Larry Summers
"PINCHED is a must read for anyone trying to understand not just the causes but the long-running consequences of the Great Recession. Don Peck shows how the economic crisis is reshuffling our economic and social order, and how devastating the effects of long-term joblessness and diminished expectations can be. He outlines a new, broader but more focused strategy that puts job creation and economic recovery at the center of the nation's agenda." --Richard Florida, author of The Great Reset and The Rise of the Creative Class
"Timely and important." --Chrystia Freeland, The New York Times and International Herald Tribune
"Compelling and disturbing ...Peck explains, with coolness and concision, the brutal new realities faced by Americans without college degrees ... He makes a compelling case that the most pressing problem the U.S. faces is not the bloated national debt, but the hollowing of the middle class." --Jeffrey Goldberg, Bloomberg
Top customer reviews
The author offers potential solutions for addressing the issues facing the economy today and turning the ship around (apologies for mixing the medicinal and naval metaphors). I don't agree with all of the suggestions, and frankly, I appreciate this book all the more for it. It's not partisan blather designed to make you hate "them"--in fact, I would be hard-pressed to guess the politics of the author. But it's a really thorough, informative description of the problems we're facing today, and I'm better for having read it.
A previous reviewer suggested that there was nothing new in the book. I couldn't disagree more. There may be no brand new information or ideas in Pinched. What is new is much more important than facts or ideas: it's the perspective, context, and accessibility. These have been substantially missing from the public discourse on what's lingeringly wrong with the economy.
All of us need to understand this perspective and context for the economic world we presently inhabit. Failing to understand would be a classic case of being doomed to repeat history.
It's taken me much longer than usual to get through Pinched, because the bulk of it sent me into fits of rage, fear, hopelessness, and even physical revulsion. I literally had to put it down for days at a time to recover my equilibrium. It's written in a style that is easy to read, but it's far from easy to face.
Learning that many corporations have decided not to hire anyone who is unemployed literally made me feel dizzy with anger. Reading a comment from a wealthy entrepreneur that American unemployment is a problem, but it's not really a problem for American business (because American business can get employees and customers anywhere) made me have to get up and pace to avoid throwing the Kindle across the room. Absorbing the cultural dysfunction that stems from the pernicious unemployment of men made me want to weep for my own boys who are getting ever closer to employment age.
The solutions in the book are difficult, structural changes that will take a massive and coordinated effort and, I believe, a groundswell of popular demand. But if there were ever a book to motivate a revolution, this one is it. I consider it required reading for anyone who cares about the future of our economy.
Peck begins with a quick look at three other periods of economic decline in America: the late nineteenth century, the Great Depression of the 1930s, and the stagflation and malaise of the 1970s. He identifies common patterns in all three: declines in family and social health, increasing inequality, growing intolerance, political dysfunction, and negative long term impacts on the children who were born during them. Peck goes on to examine the impact of the Great Recession on young people more closely. This chapter had special resonance for me since I am a retired high school teacher, and many of my former students with whom I am still in touch are dealing with declining opportunity and increasing debt and other uncertainties. Another important chapter chronicles the housing bust of the early 2000s, with some fascinating vignettes describing the lives of homeowners stuck in neighborhoods of empty houses, while another describes the strains on family life as men struggle to find work. A chapter describing the Plutonomy, the wealthy, well educated meritocratic elites who have been little affected by the Recession and who have little sympathy for those who have been, was disheartening but intriguing. I found the next to last chapter on the politics of the next ten years highly interesting but unsettling, since it makes it clear that we are likely to see other battles like the one over the debt ceiling as the Recession wears on and anger and intolerance increases.
Peck ends Pinched with a chapter entitled A Way Forward, suggesting some ways we might mitigate some of the damage done over the last few years. Since nearly all of them require a high degree of political and civic cooperation and good will I do not have high hopes that any can be implemented in the immediate future, but this chapter does allow us to hope that eventually we will find our way out of the present gloom.