Book Bits | 20 January 2018

The Tyranny of Metrics
Summary via publisher (Princeton University Press)
By Jerry Z. Muller
Today, organizations of all kinds are ruled by the belief that the path to success is quantifying human performance, publicizing the results, and dividing up the rewards based on the numbers. But in our zeal to instill the evaluation process with scientific rigor, we’ve gone from measuring performance to fixating on measuring itself. The result is a tyranny of metrics that threatens the quality of our lives and most important institutions. In this timely and powerful book, Jerry Muller uncovers the damage our obsession with metrics is causing–and shows how we can begin to fix the problem.

When Things Don’t Fall Apart: Global Financial Governance and Developmental Finance in an Age of Productive Incoherence
By Ilene Grabel
Summary via publisher (MIT Press)
In When Things Don’t Fall Apart, Ilene Grabel challenges the dominant view that the global financial crisis had little effect on global financial governance and developmental finance. Most observers discount all but grand, systemic ruptures in institutions and policy. Grabel argues instead that the global crisis induced inconsistent and ad hoc discontinuities in global financial governance and developmental finance that are now having profound effects on emerging market and developing economies.

American Capitalism: New Histories
Edited by Sven Beckert and Christine Desan
Summary via publisher (Columbia University Press)
The United States has long epitomized capitalism. From its enterprising shopkeepers, wildcat banks, violent slave plantations, huge industrial working class, and raucous commodities trade to its world-spanning multinationals, its massive factories, and the centripetal power of New York in the world of finance, America has come to symbolize capitalism for two centuries and more. But an understanding of the history of American capitalism is as elusive as it is urgent. What does it mean to make capitalism a subject of historical inquiry? What is its potential across multiple disciplines, alongside different methodologies, and in a range of geographic and chronological settings? And how does a focus on capitalism change our understanding of American history? American Capitalism presents a sampling of cutting-edge research from prominent scholars. These broad-minded and rigorous essays venture new angles on finance, debt, and credit; women’s rights; slavery and political economy; the racialization of capitalism; labor beyond industrial wage workers; and the production of knowledge, including the idea of the economy, among other topics.

Resetting the International Monetary (Non)System
By Jose Antonio Ocampo
Summary via publisher (Oxford University Press)
International financial crises have plagued the world in recent decades, including the Latin American debt crisis of the 1980s, the East Asian crisis of the late twentieth century, and the global financial crisis of 2007-09. One of the basic problems faced during these crises is the lack of adequate preventive mechanisms, as well as insufficient instruments to finance countries in crisis and to overcome their over-indebtedness. Resetting the International Monetary (Non)System provides an analysis of the global monetary system and the necessary reforms that it should undergo to play an active role in the twenty-first century and proposes a comprehensive yet evolutionary reform of the system.

The Unwinding of the Globalist Dream: EU, Russia and China
Edited by Steven Rosefielde, et al.
Summary via publisher (World Scientific)
This collection of essays documents and investigates the conflicts in Europe, Russia and China that sparked populist revolts against the established globalist order in the European Union. It shows that the populist surge was not an anomaly. It was a reflection of the internal contradictions of globalism that sparked nationalist resentment inside the EU, and backlashes against Western “soft power” aspirations in Russia and China. The idealist rhetoric of the globalist dream was persuasive. It lulled many into believing that the movement should not, and could not be stopped until the 2008 global financial crisis started the dream to unwind. The essays in this volume show that globalism is not dead, but will have to reinvent itself to revive.

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