Book Bits | 9.28.13

The Age of Oversupply: Overcoming the Greatest Challenge to the Global Economy
By Daniel Alpert
Adaptation via PBS Newshour
What we have seen in the past few decades is an unprecedented global explosion of cheap labor and cheap money. This trend is a huge driver of the developed world’s economic problems. Yet most policy makers, not to mention ordinary citizens, barely understand what has happened and, worse, many political leaders, economists, and think tanks still embrace a set of solutions to today’s economic malaise that aims to create even more supply — call them supply-side zombies if you will.

The Great Escape: Health, Wealth, and the Origins of Inequality
By Angus Deaton
Excerpt via Foreign Policy
One reason why today’s aid does not eliminate global poverty is that it rarely tries to do so. While the World Bank flies under the flag of eliminating poverty, most aid flows come not through multilateral organizations like the Bank but as “bilateral” aid, from one country to another, and different countries use aid for different purposes. In recent years, some donor countries have emphasized aid for poverty relief, with Britain’s Department for International Development (DFID) as one of the leaders. But in most cases, aid is guided less by the needs of the recipients than by the donor country’s domestic and international interests. This is hardly surprising given that donor governments are democratic and are spending taxpayers’ money.
Eyes Wide Open: How to Make Smart Decisions in a Confusing World
By Noreena Hertz
Summary via publisher, HarperCollins
In this eye-opening handbook, the internationally noted speaker, economics expert, and bestselling author of IOU: The Debt Threat and Silent Takeover reveals the extent to which the biggest decisions in our lives are often made on the basis of flawed information, weak assumptions, corrupted data, insufficient scrutiny of others, and a lack of self-knowledge. To avert such disasters, Hertz persuasively argues, we need to become empowered decision-makers, capable of making high-stakes choices and holding accountable those who advise us. In Eyes Wide Open, she weaves together scientific research with real-world examples from Hollywood to Harry Potter, NASA to World War Two spies, to construct a path to more astute and empowered decision-making in ten clear steps.
The Many Panics of 1837: People, Politics, and the Creation of a Transatlantic Financial Crisis
By Jessica M. Lepler
Summary via publisher, Cambridge University Press
In the spring of 1837, people panicked as financial and economic uncertainty spread within and between New York, New Orleans, and London. Although the period of panic would dramatically influence political, cultural, and social history, those who panicked sought to erase from history their experiences of one of America’s worst early financial crises. The Many Panics of 1837 reconstructs the period between March and May 1837 in order to make arguments about the national boundaries of history, the role of information in the economy, the personal and local nature of national and international events, the origins and dissemination of economic ideas, and most importantly, what actually happened in 1837. This riveting transatlantic cultural history, based on archival research on two continents, reveals how people transformed their experiences of financial crisis into the “Panic of 1837,” a single event that would serve as a turning point in American history and an early inspiration for business cycle theory.
One Step Ahead: Private Equity and Hedge Funds After the Global Financial Crisis
By Timothy Spangler
Summary via publisher, OneWorld
Never has there been such an appetite and desire to understand the financial institutions that govern us. But despite dominating international headlines, alternative investment vehicles including private equity and hedge funds remain elusive with few able to explain their success. In this accessible and timely study, award-winning writer Timothy Spangler explains how funds are structured to function outside of the rules that restrict other financial organizations. Designed to adapt and react to new conditions, they have thrived since the financial downturn, despite new laws and robust regulations.
Crucible of Resistance: Greece, the Eurozone and the World Economy
By Euclid Tsakalotos and Christos Laskos
Summary via publisher, Pluto Press/Macmillan
Crucible of Resistance seeks to challenge the mainstream account of the ‘Greek Crisis’ and situate it within a broader regional context and ultimately a critique of the world economic system. Euclid Tsakalotos and Christos Laskos argue that Greece’s exceptionalism is largely a myth. They show how the causes of the 2008 global financial crisis lie in key features of the neo-liberal economic order, including income and wealth inequalities and the hollowing out of democratic and deliberative institutions. A progressive exit from the crisis, for Greece and the eurozone as a whole, entails meeting head on the limitations of the neo-liberal order.