Book Bits | 16 January 2016

The Power and Independence of the Federal Reserve
By Peter Conti-Brown
Summary via publisher (Princeton University Press)
The independence of the Federal Reserve is considered a cornerstone of its identity, crucial for keeping monetary policy decisions free of electoral politics. But do we really understand what is meant by “Federal Reserve independence”? Using scores of examples from the Fed’s rich history, The Power and Independence of the Federal Reserve shows that much common wisdom about the nation’s central bank is inaccurate. Legal scholar and financial historian Peter Conti-Brown provides an in-depth look at the Fed’s place in government, its internal governance structure, and its relationships to such individuals and groups as the president, Congress, economists, and bankers.

Blood and Earth: Modern Slavery, Ecocide, and the Secret to Saving the World
By Kevin Bales
Review via The New York Times
Kevin Bales argues in “Blood and Earth” that ending “modern slavery” could make a big difference in the ­planet’s health. “If slavery were a country,” he ­asserts, “it would have the third-largest CO2 emissions on the planet.”
The standard stories about slavery end with abolition. But according to the Global Slavery Index, a research project that Bales leads and leans on heavily in this book, some 35 million people are subject to forms of enslavement. Although they are not treated as the property of ­“owners,” these victims of debt bondage, kidnapping and childhood indenture as domestic servants are not free to leave their work and are vulnerable to exploitation and high levels of control and abuse.

The Price of Oil
By Roberto F. Aguilera and Marian Radetzki
Summary via publisher (Cambridge University Press)
Drawing on their extensive knowledge of the oil industry, Roberto F. Aguilera and Marian Radetzki provide an in-depth examination of the price of the world’s most important commodity. They argue that although oil has experienced an extraordinary price increase over the past few decades, we have now reached a turning point where scarcity, uncertain supply and high prices will be replaced by abundance, undisturbed availability and suppressed price levels. They look at the potential of new global oil revolutions to bring the upward price push to an end and examine the implications of this turnaround for the world economy, as well as for politics, diplomacy, military interventions and the efforts to stabilize climate.

Plutocrats United: Campaign Money, the Supreme Court, and the Distortion of American Elections
By Richard L. Hasen
Summary via publisher (Yale University Press)
Campaign financing is one of today’s most divisive political issues. The left asserts that the electoral process is rife with corruption. The right protests that the real aim of campaign limits is to suppress political activity and protect incumbents. Meanwhile, money flows freely on both sides. In Plutocrats United, Richard Hasen argues that both left and right avoid the key issue of the new Citizens United era: balancing political inequality with free speech.

Struggling for Air: Power Plants and the “War on Coal”
By Richard Revesz and Jack Lienke
Review via NYU Law
For years, Republicans have accused President Barack Obama of waging a “war on coal.” As evidence of his “unprecedented regulatory assault” (in the words of one commentator), they point to a series of regulations issued in recent years by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that require power plants to cut emissions of several types of air pollution. But in a new book, Struggling for Air: Power Plants and the “War on Coal,” Dean Emeritus and Lawrence King Professor of Law Richard Revesz and his former student Jack Lienke ’11 offer a very different perspective.
“It’s easy to make something look unprecedented if you leave all the precedent out of your story, so we’re just trying to put these policies into a broader historical context,” says Lienke, who is a senior attorney at NYU Law’s Institute for Policy Integrity, which Revesz directs.

A History of Macroeconomics from Keynes to Lucas and Beyond
By Michel De Vroey
Summary via publisher (Cambridge University Press)
This book retraces the history of macroeconomics from Keynes’s General Theory to the present. Central to it is the contrast between a Keynesian era and a Lucasian – or dynamic stochastic general equilibrium (DSGE) – era, each ruled by distinct methodological standards.