BOOK BITS FOR SATURDAY: 2.5.2011

Why the West Rules–for Now: The Patterns of History, and What They Reveal About the Future
By Ian Morris
Review via New Statesman
Ian Morris describes how western pre-eminence came about through accidents of geography, technology and social change, and how these factors are universal. Yet what he presents is not a credible science of history, but a myth.


The General Theory of Employment Interest and Money (2011 Reprint of 1936 edition)
By John Maynard Keynes
Review via Bloomberg
John Maynard Keynes’s “The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money” was published 75 years ago today. Back then, there were queues outside the Economists’ Bookshop in Houghton Street, London. Opening hours had to be extended to deal with the rush of those eager for an alternative to policies that had ruined the global economy. The impact on the field of economics wasn’t unlike that on the scientific community when Charles Darwin published “On the Origin of Species” in 1859. Just as with Darwin’s book, Keynes’s shook the foundations of economic orthodoxy and had profound effects on his profession. The main thrust of Keynes’s work was also met with outright denial from his peers, including close colleagues, who reduced his theory to what one described as “diagrams and bits of algebra.” Above all, they denied the centrality of his theory of the rate of interest.
The Future of Money (World Class Thinking on Global Issues)
Edited by Oliver Chittenden
Summary via publisher, Virgin Books
The state of the global economy affects every single one of us. With economic growth threatened by financial regulation and the East and West at competitive odds, the real solutions to global recession can only come through international co-operation. Featuring World leaders, Nobel Prize-winning economists, award-winning writers and opinion formers The Future of Money brings together the finest thinking to suggest solutions to this global predicament.
How the West Was Lost: Fifty Years of Economic Folly–and the Stark Choices Ahead
By Dambisa Moyo
Review via Guardian
By the end of this century, most of the world will be developed: the era of western exceptionalism will be over. How the West Was Lost is a dyspeptic account of what this might imply. The rosy scenario that most economists would suggest (if they dared to tackle such a large issue) would be that the convergence of the emerging market economies on the west is mutually beneficial: we can all prosper together. Dambisa Moyo, author of the bestselling Dead Aid, is having none of this. She argues that the west has become mired in complacency: each of the drivers of growth – capital accumulation, skill accumulation, and technical innovation – have stalled, and there is no political will to salvage the situation. The market for capital has failed in its core task of finding investment opportunities that offer good returns at acceptable risk.
Advantage: How American Innovation Can Overcome the Asian Challenge
By Adam Segal
Summary via Council on Foreign Relations
The emergence of India and China as economic powers has shifted the global landscape and called into question the ability of the United States to compete and maintain its technological lead. Advantage sorts out the challenges the United States faces and focuses on what drives innovation, what constrains it, and what advantages we have to leverage. Recasting the stakes of the debate, Adam Segal, an expert on technology and foreign policy, makes the compelling case for the crucial role of the “software” of innovation. By strengthening its politics, social relations, and institutions that move ideas from the lab to the marketplace, the United States can play to its greatest economic strengths and preserve its position as a global power.
The Theory of Moral Sentiments; To Which Is Added a Dissertation on the Origin of Languages
The Passions and the Interests
Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness
Fault Lines: How Hidden Fractures Still Threaten the World Economy
Winner-Take-All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer–and Turned Its Back on the Middle Class
Recommendations by Robert Shiller via interview with The Browser
Yale economist Robert Shiller argues that rising inequality in the US was a major cause of the recent crisis, and little is being done to address it. He chooses books that give insight into human nature

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