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The Return of Depression Economics and the Crisis of 2008 Hardcover – December 1, 2008
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About the Author
- ASIN : 0393071014
- Publisher : W. W. Norton (December 1, 2008)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 288 pages
- ISBN-10 : 9780393071016
- ISBN-13 : 978-0393071016
- Item Weight : 13.1 ounces
- Dimensions : 6.5 x 0.8 x 9.6 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #834,706 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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I would love to give five star to this book however I felt that would not be honest. I hope Paul is reading this comment so he can reply back at the NY Times. I loved the example about baby-sitting; that was brilliant; however; at the beginning and at the end of the book Paul stated that the solution was printing more coupons to solve the liquidity problem. I believe he avoided discussing the issue at length because he believes a modest inflation is good. I strongly disagree; I believe inflation will hit the roof to deflate the bubble we are in. I don't believe it would be a bad thing since everything has been inflated and that will encourage exports, however, I wish if he advocated this strongly in this book.
This man is not a "Doomsday writer" about our economic troubles. He has a prospective which is not necessarily compatible with much of the economists in the headlines and economic pages of today.
He is not a "talking head" with a pessimistic view. We are on our way up and out.
I felt much better about the future after I had read this book. I liked it very much.
He asks himself if the economic question depends only by the law of supply and domand or something happens for the financial policy.
The auctor is one of better economists in the world and he prefers an idea to the other utilizing a big quantity of informations.
He is ready to tell us most important questions, from the international strategies to the housewife choices.
His capacity to read the minimal aspects in the market is equivalent to his influence in mass media.
I highly recommend this book if you have ever been confused about why an economy can suddenly go from "golden boy" status to "the mother of all" recession, or if you have ever wondered what in the world the national banks actually do.
Top reviews from other countries
That said if you want to know what went wrong read this. Excellent writer for the non expert. An enjoyable romp through our recent financial foolishness . This is why it all went wrong.
The section devoted to the economic crisis of 2008 is disappointingly small, only a couple of chapters. The rest of the book being devoted to previous recessions and depressions worldwide, such as the Asian crises of the 1990s and the Latin American crises. The explanations seemed to be good enough, but there was a lot more econo-babble than I would have hoped for, and though the author tries to put complicated economical concepts into tangible, real-world examples, even then it's still pretty complicated.
To cut a long story short, the main argument that I can glean from this book is that "speculation" (whatever that may be; irritatingly, it's never made entirely clear in the book) is a bad thing, and causes recessions. So I think the book's section dealing with the 2008 crisis is far too short, there's too much economics jargon and the real-world examples, though admirable, don't quite get it. I think, however, my lack of economics knowledge didn't help matters but I do not feel this should be an issue with a text that seems to promise to make things easy for the non-specialist.
For a short, book Krugman is certainly ambitious in terms of the period and number of countries that he covers. He sets his arguments in the context of politics, reminding us of the now old fashion academic discipline known as political economy. Although it could be said that Krugman's economics is of a left leaning brand, he does not shirk from admitting that with the collapse of the Soviet Union the overall economic situation is nonetheless one in which capitalism has won out over socialism. That victory, however, comes with a caveat: "if the current economic crisis persists and deepens capitalism victor won't last forever other ideologies will emerge."
To return to my set question, I am not so sure that Krugman has anything new to say. What I particularly admire about the book was its avoidance of economic jargon and where possible technical and abstract economic concepts. Instead what we get from the book is a plain speaking narrative with Krugman doing his best to explain things by extended analogies for the uninitiated. I was fascinated by the analogy of the baby sitting coop which Krugman used to explain a number of important economic ideas such as the reason for increasing or decreasing interest rates, inflation and the lack of demand in an economy - just to mention a few.
The book attempts to examine most of the significant economic crises of recent times. To that effect it sometimes reads like an economic tour of some far flung countries such as Mexico, Argentina, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, etc. In respect of these countries, along with the well established economies, Krugman gives a good explanation of boom and bust. He quite rightly castigates politicians and economist for not learning lessons from the past, for making poor decisions and for not being bold enough to make decisions in a timely manner.
To some extent the book reads like a political polemic. It is broadly a one-sided account of the problems faced by the world's major economies. Whilst Krugman does not explicitly acknowledge that it is a one-sided account he nevertheless implicitly does so. A subsection at the end of chapter states: "Most commentators on The Asian crisis would probably find some detail of the account in this chapter to quarrel with. Some would argue that the damage done by moral hazard-driven lending was greater than I suggest. Some would argue, on the contrary, that the economies were really in good shape, and that the crisis was wholly gratuitous."
For those of us who lack the ability to quickly grasp some of the economic ideas we hear in the daily news or miss the details of some of the interesting stories, Krugman provides brief but good explanations - for example, the workings of hedge funds. Then there are the interesting stories such as how George Soros managed to undermine the pound's position in the European Exchange Rate Mechanism. He also provides a good explanation of the development of banks and the coming into being of central banks.
The Return of Depression Economics is a short, highly readable book about the economic problems faced by a number of countries in recent years. The book is a little one-sided perhaps but nonetheless a book that I would recommend.
Firstly he reminds the layman of the extent to which market values are affected by volatile emotional factors, such as trader confidence. (This is explored further in Akerlof and Schiller's `Animal Spirits'.)
The main impact of the book, however, is the description of the huge scale of financial speculation and gearing within the parallel banking system. Krugman lays before us the scandalous lack of regulation which he holds as the primary culprit of the collapse. Once he has us reeling with this frightening depiction of unrestricted and irresponsible financial wizardry, he goes on to recount the multiple opportunities taken - in the forms of press leaks etc - to manipulate the markets, in order to complete the process of siphoning off the money from those of us who felt the system was in some way trustworthy.
If you'd like to understand where all your savings went, look no further than Krugman's crisp, timely account.