Book Bits: 6 August 2022

After the Ivory Tower Falls: How College Broke the American Dream and Blew Up Our Politics―and How to Fix It
Will Bunch
Q&A with author via Inside Higher Ed
In his new book, After the Ivory Tower Falls: How College Broke the American Dream and Blew Up Our Politics—and How to Fix It (William Morrow), Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Will Bunch, national opinion columnist for The Philadelphia Inquirer, traces the evolution of American higher education since World War II, exploring how it fueled—and was fueled by—the country’s deep political and cultural divides. In a phone interview with Inside Higher Ed, Bunch attributed many of this country’s current travails—from climate change denial to the Jan. 6 insurrection—to “a failure of education.” Excerpts of the conversation follow, edited for length and clarity.
He largely absolves the Fed of blame for this (though I would have noted that the Greenspan Fed was reluctant to use the regulatory muscle it did have).

The Fed Unbound: Central Banking in a Time of Crisis
Lev Menand
Review via The Washington Post
A Columbia Law School associate professor who did stints at the Obama Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Menand argues in a slim paperback — “The Fed Unbound: Central Banking in a Time of Crisis” — that the Fed has been forced to stray from its roots by the evolution of the financial system, to which Congress has failed to respond. The result, he argues, is that the Fed has done too much and that this, among other things, has widened wealth inequality in the United States.

Pursued Economy: Understanding and Overcoming the Challenging New Realities for Advanced Economies
Richard C. Koo
Summary via publisher (Wiley)
In Pursued Economy: Understanding and Overcoming the Challenging New Realities for Advanced Economies, celebrated economist and thought leader Richard C. Koo dives deep into the failure of traditional economic solutions to address the economic and social problems of post-Great Recession and post-pandemic economies. Starting with the original concepts of balance sheet recessions and global competition for capital, the author explains why the Great Recession lasted for so long and why well-intentioned policies that worked so well in the past are no longer working today. Readers will discover that advanced economies moved from what the author calls the “golden era” to the “pursued era” of economic development long ago, but the policy debate in these countries continues to be informed by golden era assumptions that are no longer relevant but are still taught in universities. That mismatch has led to an over-reliance on monetary policy and an under-reliance on fiscal policy that are distorting economies and worsening inequality in a profoundly transformed world.

Killing Sacred Cows: Overcoming the Financial Myths That Are Destroying Your Prosperity
Garrett B. Gunderson
Summary via publisher (Greenleaf Book Group)
Our culture is riddled with destructive myths about money and prosperity that are severely limiting our power, creativity, and financial potential. In Killing Sacred Cows, Garrett B. Gunderson boldly exposes ingrained fallacies and misguided traditions in the world of personal finance. He presents a revolutionary perspective that can create unprecedented opportunity and wealth for individuals. Our financial lives are intimately connected to our societal contributions, and we must be financially free in order to achieve our fullest potential. Yet most people are held captive in their financial lives by misinformation, propaganda, and the lack of knowledge. Through well-reasoned arguments and pitiless logic, Gunderson attacks these sacred cows with revolutionary insights.

If It’s Smart, It’s Vulnerable
Mikko Hypponen
Summary via publisher (Wiley)
All our devices and gadgets—from our refrigerators to our home security systems, vacuum cleaners, and stereos—are going online, just like our computers did. But once we’ve successfully connected our devices to the internet, do we have any hope of keeping them, and ourselves, safe from the dangers that lurk beneath the digital waters? In If It’s Smart, It’s Vulnerable, veteran cybersecurity professional Mikko Hypponen delivers an eye-opening exploration of the best—and worst—things the internet has given us. From instant connectivity between any two points on the globe to organized ransomware gangs, the net truly has been a mixed blessing. In this book, the author explores the transformative potential of the future of the internet, as well as those things that threaten its continued existence: government surveillance, censorship, organized crime, and more.

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