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Unintended Consequences: Why Everything You've Been Told About the Economy Is Wrong Hardcover – June 7, 2012

3.2 out of 5 stars 85 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“A full-throated defense of economic dynamism. . .refreshing at a time when so many take the failure of capitalism for granted.”
The Wall Street Journal
 
“Conard offers deep and well-argued analyses on almost every issue.”
The New York Times
 
“One of the must-read books of the year.” 
—TYLER COWEN, Marginal Revolution
 
“…the book, written by a former Bain partner, gives a good overview of the forces behind the financial crisis. It is far smarter and more thought-provoking than most economics written for the general public.”
—GREG MANKIW, Professor of Economics, Harvard University, Former Chairman of the Council on Economic Advisors
 
“There are an amazing number of good ideas and interesting points made in this book. The thinking underlying it, and the obvious depth of understanding of the author, are very impressive.”
—STEVEN LEVITT, Coauthor of Freakonomics; 2004 John Bates Clark Medal Winner
 
"Conard's contrarian chapter on the benefits of low taxation for the rich is powerfully written. It should be read by anyone who takes for granted the superiority of progressive taxation and has not thought carefully about the trade-offs involved."
The New Republic
 
“Edward Conard provides a provocative interpretation of the causes of the global financial crisis and the policies needed to return to rapid growth. Whether you agree or not, this analysis is well worth reading.”
 —NOURIEL ROUBINI, Chairman, Roubini Global Economics
 
“Edward Conard’s keen business insight and sharp eye on economic forces explain structural strengths and weaknesses of the American economy. While some of his proposed solutions are controversial, the U.S. economy can recover its mojo if policy makers understand Conard’s diagnosis.”
—GLENN HUBBARD, Dean, Graduate School of Business, Columbia University; Former Chairman, President’s Council of Economic Advisers
 
“Edward Conard’s book presents the most cogent and persuasive analysis of the financial crisis to date. It is deeper and likely more accurate than what we have seen so far from journalists, academics, and particularly former government officials.”
—ANDREI SHLEIFER, 1999 John Bates Clark Medal winner; Former Editor, Quarterly Journal of Economics; Professor of Economics, Harvard University
 
“This is a wonderful book, filled with wisdom by a guy who really knows what he’s talking bout. It is a must reading for both businessmen and politicians.”
—JOHN C. WHITEHEAD, Former Chairman, Goldman Sachs & Co.; Former Deputy Secretary of State
 
Unintended Consequences will be the most talked about economic book in 2012. When Ed Conard points the spotlight at recent economic history, his uncanny ability to cut through the confusion provides something totally unexpected: a fresh, nonpartisan perspective on what is right and wrong with America.”
—KEVIN HASSETT, Senior Fellow and Director of Economic Policy, American Enterprise Institute
 
“Edward Conard has written a provocative and important book about the economy that challenges conventional wisdom about the financial crisis, the trade deficit, government policy, and the path to prosperity. I hope policy makers and business leaders will pay close attention to Conard’s framework.”
—WILLIAM A. SAHLMAN, Senior Associate Dean, Harvard Business School
 
“Virtually everyone who reads Unintended Consequences will feel the pain of knowing that we may never get EVERYONE to read it. The clarity of Edward Conard’s explana­tion of where we are, how we got here, and what we do now is profound.”
—BILL BAIN, Founder, Bain & Company

About the Author

Edward "Ed" Conard is the author of the New York Times top-ten bestselling book, Unintended Consequences: Why Everything You've Been Told About the Economy Is Wrong (2012). He is a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. Previously, he was a founding partner of Bain Capital, where he worked closely with his friend and colleague, former presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
 
In May of 2012, Conard published Unintended Consequences: Why Everything You've Been Told About the Economy Is Wrong. The book was featured on the cover of the New York Times Sunday Magazine and went on to become a New York Times top ten non-fiction bestseller. Because of the publicity surrounding the publication of his book, Conard was the tenth most searched author on Google in 2012.
 
Since its publication, Mr. Conard has made over 100 television appearances in which he has debated leading economists including Paul Krugman, Joe Stiglitz, Alan Kruger, Austan Goolsbee, and Jared Bernstein; journalists including Jon Stewart, Fareed Zakaria, Chris Hayes, and Andrew Ross Sorkin; and politicians such as Barney Frank, Howard Dean, and Eliot Spitzer.
 
Prior to Bain Capital, Conard worked for Wasserstein Perella & Co., an investment bank that specialized in mergers and acquisitions, and Bain & Company, a management-consulting firm, where he led the firm's industrial practice.
 
Conard has a master of business administration degree from Harvard Business School and a bachelor of science degree in engineering from the University of Michigan.
 
For up-to-date information on Ed, visit the homepage: www.EdwardConard.com
 
Become a fan of Ed on Facebook www.facebook.com/EdwardConard
 
Follow Ed on Twitter www.twitter.com/EdwardConard
 
Connect with Ed on LinkedIn http://www.linkedin.com/in/EdwardConard/  

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Portfolio; First Printing edition (June 7, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591845505
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591845508
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.4 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (85 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #557,177 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Edward Conard has good ideas and themes. But, his thought process is scattered and he makes many unsubstantiated statements that do not come together to create a complete model of markets and applied economics. I liked the list facts/myths on the Financial Crisis (2007-9) that Mr. Conrad listed toward the end of his book.

THEME: Capital markets play an important role in underwriting of risk (equities) and distributing risk to risk takers (equity investors and sellers of insurance) that increases productivity and economic growth. Underwriting risk is easier in economies with large, liquid capital markets. Efficiently priced insurance reduces the risk of moral hazard and reduces the risk of panic-driven withdrawals of short-term deposits. Successful risk-taking creates equity which can be consumed or reinvested. Prudent risk-taking is a good for society. Risk properly priced in the market leads to higher employment and greater wealth creation than when risk is mispriced (asset bubbles) which wastes investment dollars and leads to inappropriate decision making on investment/consumption. Society as a whole captures 100% of the benefit of investments: 1) Investors capture about 30% of the total value. 2) Consumers capture 70% of the total value. 3) Government redistributes some of the benefits. As an economy becomes richer, it is willing to take more risks.
Commerce is the salvation of the poor. Prosperity of a society has the greatest impact on the plight of the poor.

THEME: Financial panics and capital withdrawals cannot be accurately predicted. Government guarantees provide effective counter-measures to these unforeseen events. Government guarantees (properly priced) is the cheapest way to insure against panic and financial crises.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Most interesting are the range of comments here. I never realized the how much open animosity there to to free markets, capitalism and risk taking by successful entrepreneurs. Who would you rather have in control of your lives, a company and business that is accountable to customers every day.. or a government that is completely unaccountable and continually looks to justify taking of an ever greater percentage of the wealth that we create? Free markets function without governments.. this independence is what creates fear... it also creates the regulatory- patronage system that corrupt and destroys our economy. The US should not take its dominant position as a given.. we have tremendous potential.. but that ECONOMIC potential can NOT be untied by a government.. it creates nothing.. it just consumes... The social potential of a people (similarly) should not be tied to a government...

Isn't it odd that our modern technology and "contentedness" has enabled us to do so many more things locally... to simplify and create tremendous inefficiencies. Markets force performance, accountability and transparency. What part of the "progressive" machine resembles that? We can't even see what legislation looks like before it becomes law...
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you want to understand right-wing economics, this is a fair attempt. If you just want the short version, here goes: "we should try to make the pie bigger first, and then try to split the pie fairly second. If you reverse the order, you handicap the biggest producers such that we all end up with less." That is basically the book. I thought the book could have made this point more strongly if it were a little more technical. However, I have a lot of economics texts, so maybe I am not the intended audience. If you are trying to get a scholarship from the young republicans, this would be a great place to start. If you wanted to restructure a nation's socio-economics, this will not help much. If you want something in between (for example, explain to your friends why using economics for social engineering is doomed to fail) this book is reasonably good.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Mr. Conard put an impressive amount of research and intellectual effort into this book. In short, he argues that innovation underwritten by risk capital increases society's wealth available to the upper, middle and lower economic classes. Actions that inhibit risk and innovation inevitably reduce overall U.S. wealth. The Great Recession has caused the U. S. to dial back the use of risk capital, which slows innovation, inhibits employment and reduces prosperity. He examines the arguments on taxation and income redistribution from all sides of the political and economic spectrum. Those of a socialist or liberal political persuasion will probably find the author's arguments unpersuasive and perhaps troubling; political conservatives will probably be more persuaded. He argues, for instance, that much of the wealth that innovation and risk create flow to the middle and lower economic classes. He further argues that excess consumption feeds the egos that drive the risk-taking that leads to innovation that increases the wealth available to society. While I am certain that some political viewpoints will react adversely to these arguments, I think any reader will have to concede that the intellectual breadth of the author's effort deserves respect.

The sections of the book addressing the effects of technical regulatory changes and accounting interpretations on the Great Recession were enlightening. The author explains that these arcane regulatory and accounting matters had an unexpected influence on the market forces in the subprime loan debacle. He also discusses the political and market impulses that led to the Great Recession arising out of the misuse of subprime loans. His discussion of the political impulses behind these loans is fairly well known.
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