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The Return of Depression Economics and the Crisis of 2008 Paperback – September 8, 2009

4.1 out of 5 stars 178 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

The most celebrated economist of his generation.

Krugman 's facility with both arcane details and vast unified explanations boils down complexity so much that the reader often wonders: Why didn t I see it that way myself

The most celebrated economist of his generation. "

Krugman s facility with both arcane details and vast unified explanations boils down complexity so much that the reader often wonders: Why didn t I see it that way myself? "

About the Author

Paul Krugman is the recipient of the 2008 Nobel Prize in Economics. He is a best-selling author, columnist, and blogger for the New York Times, and is a professor of economics and international affairs at Princeton University.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 207 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; Reprint edition (September 8, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393337804
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393337808
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (178 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #86,126 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Izaak VanGaalen on November 27, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Depression economics is when conventional economic wisdom no longer applies. In a "normal" recession the Federal Reserve would lower interest rates in order to stimulate consumption and investment. According to Paul Krugman, that remedy is no longer getting any traction. He claims it's time to cast conventional economic wisdom to the wind. The economy is in such a deep hole that he's calling for another $600 billion in federal outlays. This is in addition to the $700 billion already asked for by Treasury Secretary Paulson, and looks very similar to Obama's spending plans for next year.

This is a re-issue of a book written by Krugman in 1999 after multiple economic crises in the decade of the 1990s. Japan had just lost a decade's worth of growth for responding too timidly to the bursting of their stock and real estate bubbles. Krugman also analyzes the various currency crises of that decade: from Britain and Sweden in the early 90s, to Mexico and Argentina in the mid-90s, and finally to Brazil and East Asia in the late 90s. These crises occurred as globalization was doing its work in the currency markets.

In his analysis of Japan's lost decade, he argues that everything must be done to increase aggregate demand. The collapse of demand caused by loss of confidence and fear had severely depressed spending and investment. At that point only government spending can lessen the severity of the recession and perhaps even turn the economy around. In Krugman's view, the lackluster response was the reason it took Japan so long to recover. He believes that one should only worry about deficits and debt when the economy is on the rebound.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a slim book (<200 pages with big font and wide line spacing) that covers a lot of material. While I like Paul Krugman's clear, informal writing style and use of analogies to past crises, I didn't find these episodes to be explored as deeply as I would have liked. This book seems more suited to people who are new to macroeconomics. For example, the babysitting coop analogy is a classic, and still one of the clearest, simplest ways to explain the interaction between monetary policy, aggregate demand, and consumer behavior. More data and a few charts would have helped to illustrate the economic and market conditions around the asian and latin american crises, and helped to put the magnitude of these (and the current crisis) in perspective. I liked his discussion of when the severity of some crises seem disproportionate to what fundamental conditions would initially suggest, which sounds a lot like soros' reflexivity (e.g. people perceive a bank to be bad (whether accurate or not), pull their money, cause a run, bank fails, => people create the conditions in which their fears are realized).

Overall, this is a quick easy read, helpful as a concise, clearly written primer on what been going on recently.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Although the title makes the book sound dismal, Krugman's book is actually an enjoyable read. The author goes out of his way to avoid a dry, stuffy tone. Instead, he tells simple stories, like the one about the baby sitting co-op in Washington, which he uses repeatedly throughout the book to explain progressively more complex ideas.

For me, the biggest eye-opener offered by this book is Krugman's explanation of the unregulated shadow banking system that emerged in recent years and has been caving in prior to and during this financial crisis. What are auction-rate securities, and why did the market for them collapse? And why didn't this get more coverage in the media? Krugman explains this, in part by drawing upon an alarming speech made by Timothy Geithner, Obama's nominated Treasury secretary, in June 2008 in which Geithner described a "parallel financial system vulnerable to a classic type of run, but without the protections such as deposit insurance that the banking system has in place to reduce such risks."

This is a great book: readable, informative and timely. I recommend it to anyone who's eager to dig into a deeper examination of the underlying causes of the financial crisis.
3 Comments 43 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Hardcover
Krugman makes the case in his new book, The Return of Depression Economics and the Crisis of 2008, that we have a scarcity of understanding, not resources. He claims that "the only important obstacles to world prosperity are the obsolete doctrines that clutter the minds of men." If you have any interest in uncluttering your mind and achieving some degree of understanding, consider reading this fine book. Krugman writes in a clear style, and uses plenty of examples to illustrate his key points. This book updates the one he wrote in 1999 on the same general topic. The intervening years have made his message even more compelling: we need to abandon the conventional thinking that's getting us nowhere. This engaging and thought-provoking book led me to reexamine my thinking, and to consider the degree to which my mind is cluttered with obsolete thoughts. I highly recommend this book to any reader interested in exploring our economic problems.

Rating: Four-star (Highly Recommended)
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