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Why Economies Grow First Edition Edition

2.8 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0465043118
ISBN-10: 0465043119
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

New York Times "Economic Scene" columnist Madrick sets out to debunk the "new economy" rhetoric that ignited the late-1990s stock market, and although his argument may seem belated, it's far from mundane. According to the author, technological innovations aren't just less important to economic expansion than we've been led to believe-they're not even necessary. Henry Ford's advances were much more managerial than technological, Madrick writes; therefore, improvements in marketing and distribution can prompt growth without serious technological developments. In the supply versus demand equation, Madrick tips the balance toward demand: in the last 1,000 years of economic history, desire for product has always been the motivation for expansion. Even the 19th-century invention of the commercial thresher, which vastly improved farms' productivity, was invented to feed a growing population. Much of the book chronicles the decline of American productivity from 1970 to 1995, with Madrick asserting that stagnation inspired people to invent the fiction of a "new economy," which, by the late '90s, was almost exclusively identified with high-tech enterprises. Unfortunately, Madrick, a former Business Week financial editor, here plays the role of essayist, rather than journalist, foregoing specific data for broad assertions. He calls for more progressive taxes to redistribute wealth and greater public spending on education and healthcare, but his last chapter is fatalistically titled "Why We Won't Do It," and is a critique of the laissez-faire orthodoxy that has dominated politics and economic theory since the '80s.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Economists believe that, to make an economy grow, many factors must be in place, such as sufficient capital or abundant natural resources, while most Americans believe that technological innovation is the sine qua non of prosperity. Madrick, a New York Times business columnist and cable TV pundit, devotes over three-quarters of this work to refuting the technological innovation thesis. Rather, he believes that the existence of viable markets is the most important element among a complicated mix of causes. Only in the penultimate chapter does he offer his prescription on how to make the economy grow, which is mostly a list of traditional liberal policies where "government" gives money and/or more services to people. Their spending, in turn, drives the economy. He notes, however, that he doesn't think his recommendations will be implemented; our national character prevents us from relying too heavily on government. Despite many interesting insights and a strong center section on the Industrial Revolution, a weak beginning and unconvincing end sabotage what could have been a very good book. An optional purchase. Patrick J. Brunet, Western Wisconsin Tech. Coll., LaCrosse
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books; First Edition edition (October 16, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465043119
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465043118
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,875,172 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Vic Weatherford on August 25, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
There's no book like Wealth of Nations for a nuts and bolts examination of economic markets and how they both grow and falter, but nobody in today's world can read that book, it seems. Too much tedious detail, I suppose.

This fascinating book comes as close as any I've seen, examining how the world's dominant economies, from the Dutch several centuries ago, through the British and then the U.S. rose to achieve their dominant positions. Madrick's analysis is not only insightful but in many ways surprising, because he talks about things that nobody else seems to be talking about, but which are so obvious once they are pointed out. This is especially true when he deals with the economic slowdown of the 70's, and then the brief surge in 90's.

I know about half of the readers in the U.S. will be prejudiced against this book from the start, because they read that the author's own solutions going forward are "liberal"... not to mention that his followup book was titled "The Case for Big Government"!

But in this book he really doesn't go there at all until very late in the book, and then in a very cursory way. The majority of the book doesn't come off as an ideological treatise at all. Unless you are so adverse to the notion that demand leads supply that you break out in hives reading historical evidence that supports it, I suppose...
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Format: Hardcover
A very readable analysis of recent economic history by a professor of economics at Princeton University. A helpful explanation of where we are today, it puts in context why the Obama administration is doing what it is doing.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A major disappointment. Jeff Madrick is very knowledgeable and well spoken but this book is little more than a sermon supporting big government and social programs.
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By A Customer on November 17, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This author lacks serious academic credentials. He provides little in the way of facts, but plenty in the way of opinions. His philosohpy of economic growth has been thoroughly discredited among leading economists. His recommendations sound good, but the economy just doesn't work that way.
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