● Pedigree: How Elite Students Get Elite Jobs
By Lauren A. Rivera
Summary via publisher (Princeton University Press)
Americans are taught to believe that upward mobility is possible for anyone who is willing to work hard, regardless of their social status, yet it is often those from affluent backgrounds who land the best jobs. Pedigree takes readers behind the closed doors of top-tier investment banks, consulting firms, and law firms to reveal the truth about who really gets hired for the nation’s highest-paying entry-level jobs, who doesn’t, and why.
● A World Made for Money: Economy, Geography, and the Way We Live Today
By Bret Wallach
Summary via publisher (University of Nebraska Press)
A spirited and incisive survey of economic geography, A World Made for Money begins with the author stopped at a red light in Norman, Oklahoma. Observing the landscape of drugstores and banks, and for that matter the stoplight and roads themselves, Bret Wallach observes, “Everything I see has been built to make money” or, at the very least, to facilitate making money. This, he argues, is a global phenomenon that nonetheless has occurred only within the past hundred years or so. Although guidebooks and culture brokers often disparage these landscapes of commerce, Wallach—recipient of a MacArthur “genius grant”—argues that we would do well to pay them close attention.
● Oil, Illiberalism, and War: An Analysis of Energy and US Foreign Policy
By Andrew T. Price-Smith
Summary via publisher (MIT Press)
The United States is addicted to crude oil. In this book, Andrew Price-Smith argues that this addiction has distorted the conduct of American foreign policy in profound and malign ways, resulting in interventionism, exploitation, and other illiberal behaviors that hide behind a facade of liberal internationalism. The symbiotic relationship between the state and the oil industry has produced deviations from rational foreign energy policy, including interventions in Iraq and elsewhere that have been (at the very least) counterproductive or (at worst) completely antithetical to national interests.
● California Dreaming: Lessons on How to Resolve America’s Public Pension Crisis
By Lawrence J. McQuillan
Summary via publisher (Independent Institute)
The problem? For far too long, state and local governments have promised their employees increasingly generous retirement benefits—but without ensuring that sufficient funds will be on hand when the pension payments come due. In California Dreaming, Lawrence J. McQuillan pulls back the curtains covering this unfunded liability crisis. He describes the true extent of the problem, explains the critical factors that are driving public pension debt sky-high, and exposes the perverse incentives of lawmakers and pension officials that reward them for not fixing the problem and letting it escalate. Finally, he offers the six crucial reforms needed to restore the financial health of California and other threatened jurisdictions.land of opportunity avoids becoming a graveyard of broken dreams.
● Modern Greece: What Everyone Needs to Know®
By Stathis Kalyvas
Summary via publisher (Oxford University Press)
Just a few years ago, Greece appeared to be a politically secure nation with a healthy economy. Today, Greece can be found at the center of the economic maelstrom in Europe. Beginning in late 2008, the Greek economy entered a nosedive that would transform it into the European country with the most serious and intractable fiscal problems. Both the deficit and the unemployment rate skyrocketed. Quickly thereafter, Greece edged toward a pre-revolutionary condition, as massive anti-austerity protests punctuated by violence and vandalism spread throughout Greek cities. Greece was certainly not the only country hit hard by the recession, but nevertheless the entire world turned its focus toward it for a simple reason: the possibility of a Greek exit from the European Monetary Union, and its potential to unravel the entire Union, with other weaker members heading for the exits as well. The fate of Greece is inextricably tied up with the global politics surrounding austerity as well. Is austerity rough but necessary medicine, or is it an intellectually bankrupt approach to fiscal policy that causes ruin? Through it all, Greece has staggered from crisis to crisis, and the European central bank’s periodic attempts to prop up its economy fall short in the face of popular recalcitrance and negative economic growth.
● A New Start for the Eurozone: Dealing with Debt
By Giancarlo Corsetti, et al.
Reference via The Enlightened Economist
Yesterday I attended the launch of a new CEPR (free) e-book, A New Start for the Eurozone: Dealing with Debt. Written by some of Europe’s most distinguished macroeconomists, it notes that a return to sustainability requires a reduction in the legacy debt burden. It proposes using the seigniorage revenues from the Euro to finance a one-time debt buyback for the most indebted Eurozone countries, reducing their debt-GDP ratios to a sustainable level. This would be combined with a stronger regulatory structure to prevent future debt build-ups (and mitigate the unavoidable moral hazard involved in the first step), and the creation of a safe asset, a synthetic European bond.