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Pinched: How the Great Recession Has Narrowed Our Futures and What We Can Do About It Paperback – August 7, 2012
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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. 2. Again and again, our tendency in periods like this one has been to hunker down and wait for the bad times to pass. When bubbles pop and times grow hard, the animal spirits within all of us turn bearish, sometimes ungenerous, and deeply averse to risk. Unchecked, these sentiments can bias our thinking and actions in ways that are just as dangerous and counterproductive as bubble thinking itself. 3. Historically, as a result of these first two factors, we have tended to underestimate the true cost of remaining in periods like this one, and to overestimate the risks of aggressive action to try to hasten recovery. The bias in periods like this one has usually been toward doing too little; if anything, it should be toward doing too much. 4. This was not an ordinary recession, and ordinary responses will not fully end it. Boilerplate responses--cut taxes, raise spending--are insufficient given the nature and variety of these problems, and potentially dangerous if only bluntly applied. We need a combination of actions--some time honored, some novel--to restore our health. 5. True recovery is not simply a matter of jolting the economy back onto its former path; it’s about changing the path. We are in the midst of a major, global economic transformation, one that is steadily thinning the American middle class. The Great Recession has brought this into sharp relief, and in some ways has given us a preview of where America’s economy is heading. Many of the deepest economic trends that the recession has highlighted will take decades to fully play out. We can adapt successfully to them, if we start now. 6. Culture matters. A cultural separation is accompanying and reinforcing the economic sorting of Americans into winners and losers. Much of the nonprofessional middle class is slowly coming to resemble the poor in its habits and values; the rich are simply floating away from everyone else, not just financially but emotionally too. Both developments are profoundly unhealthy. Solutions to the problems of this era cannot be only economic. They must be cultural as well. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
“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
From the Hardcover edition.
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.
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.Read more ›
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This was my first time downloading a Kindle book through Amazon. The process was very easy and I am very happy with the book. Read morePublished on September 16, 2013 by Melissa Brooks
This is one the best books I have ever read, and certainly the best book I have read recently on our current economic crisis. Read morePublished on March 18, 2013 by rbrb2000
Contains concise conclusions about future impacts of extended recessionary conditons in America. The trends in the geographical distribution of social classes in the US based on... Read morePublished on February 22, 2013 by Stewart Paulson
Journalist Don Peck, in this short study on economic recessions and depressions, provides his readers with some fascinating insights as to how these megaevents impact people... Read morePublished on January 6, 2013 by Ian Gordon Malcomson
I read this book as part of one of my MBA classes and enjoyed it. I found there to be a lot of good heuristics and statistics to use in everyday conversation.Published on November 22, 2012 by Mike
Don Peck is one of those writers who reminds me that no matter how clever I think I may be, there are many people who eclipse me in a major way. Read morePublished on July 3, 2012 by Michigan Reviewer
I purchased this book for my personal library after borrowing and reading it from my public library. Read morePublished on May 27, 2012 by mywalk07
In the midst of the great recession, Peck has written a book about its lasting effects where only 14 pages in, he's already stated that the economy is on the rebound, that mass... Read morePublished on April 15, 2012 by mrtimmccormack
The scariest part of this book was the author's assertion that the middle of the middle class, the people with college degrees but no advanced degrees or professional... Read morePublished on March 24, 2012 by Baby Boomer