Book Bits: 20 April 2024

Growth: A History And A Reckoning
Daniel Susskind
Review via Financial Times
The book starts with a canter through centuries of muddled thinking. Thomas Malthus and his contemporaries thought that growth was inherently unsustainable, as a growing population would eventually run out of resources. Later, development economists at the World Bank sustained a “‘fetish’ for investment”, relying on models that saw physical capital — stuff that people could touch — as key for generating development.
Most recently, there are “degrowthers”, who include the likes of activist Greta Thunberg and anthropologist Jason Hickel. Although their views are (too) often vaguely defined, the basic fear is that more economic growth will gobble up the Earth’s resources, and so policymakers should seek less of it to prevent environmental catastrophe.

Why You Should Give a Damn about Economics: The Us Debt Crisis and Your Future
Leslie A Rubin
Summary via Amazon
The debt bomb is ticking, and only we can diffuse it. America is in a crisis. Our accumulating debt-in the trillions-shows no end in sight, and our governmental leaders have done little to mitigate this threat. Whether you are living on Wall Street or in a one-square-mile town, national economics can and does apply to our day-to-day lives. Former CPA and active CEO of Rubin Development Company, Les Rubin aptly outlines the basics of our economics, the history, and the benefits and pitfalls of proposed solutions. A concise but comprehensive handbook, Why You Should Give a Damn About Economics will give you the right tools to clip the right wire on the debt bomb before it’s too late.

The Conservative Environmentalist: Common Sense Solutions for a Sustainable Future
Benji Backer
Adaptation via New York Post
Contrary to the mainstream narrative, getting the government out of its own way is the first step to scaling environmental protection measures.
The federal government should only step in when projects involve territory across more than one state, such as a river; when projects impact the nation’s health, such as with the carbon emissions from forest fires; or when one state’s actions affect an entire industry, such as California’s stricter tailpipe emissions regulations (which forced automakers to change their designs and raise prices for the entire nation).
With our adversaries China and Russia quickly building new projects for all energy sources, America continues to fall behind, largely due to this government overreach.
Even worse, the majority of the emissions reductions and clean energy projects promised in President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act are impossible to achieve if our government continues to stand in the way.

A Practical Guide to Macroeconomics
Jeremy B. Rudd
Summary via publisher (Cambridge U. Press)
There is an uncomfortably large gulf between academic research and what policy economists use to understand the economy. A Practical Guide to Macroeconomics shows how economists at policy institutions approach important real-world questions and explains why existing academic work – theoretical and empirical – has little to offer them. It argues that this disconnect between theory and practice is problematic for policymaking and the economics profession and looks at what’s needed to make academic research more relevant for policy. The book also covers topics related to economic measurement and provides a compact overview of US macroeconomic statistics that will help researchers use these data in a better-informed way.

Bringing Adam Smith into the American Home: A Case Against Home Ownership
Jack Ryan and John Tamny
Summary via publisher (Post Hill Press)
In Bringing Adam Smith into the American Home, authors Jack Ryan and John Tamny make a powerful case that the purchase of a home slows wealth attainment—rendering owners immobile in ways that further restrain their wealth chances—and that the act of homeownership deprives owners of the time and ability to do what they do best, which further dampens individual economic achievement. Thanks to the residential real estate pricing cartel, homeownership has become so costly that it has erected wildly expensive barriers to the very mobility that powers so much individual prosperity. As the cartel prospers, homebuyers and sellers alike suffer its rigidity.

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