Book Bits For Saturday: 11.19.2011

Money in a Free Society: Keynes, Friedman, and the New Crisis in Capitalism
By Tim Congdon
Summary via publisher, Encounter Books
In the fifteen years leading to mid-2007 the world economy enjoyed unparalleled stability, with steady growth and low inflation. But the Great Recession has seen the worst economic turmoil since the 1930s. A dramatic plunge in trade, output, and employment in late 2008 and 2009 has been followed by an agonizingly weak recovery. What explains this crisis? What are the intellectual origins of the policy mistakes that led to the Great Recession? Which ideas on economic policy have proved right? And which have been wrong? Money in a Free Society contains eighteen provocative essays on these questions from Tim Congdon, an influential economic adviser to the Thatcher government in the UK and one of the world’s leading monetary commentators. Congdon argues that academic economists and policy-makers have betrayed the intellectual legacy of both John Maynard Keynes and Milton Friedman.

Beyond Our Means: Why America Spends While the World Saves
By Sheldon Garon
Excerpt via publisher, Princeton University Press
When I began researching this book several years ago, saving money was not the sexiest of topics—certainly not in America. Policymakers here have long emphasized consumption as the driver of the economy, while historians prefer to write about the rise of our vibrant consumer culture. But recently the issue of saving has become maybe too exciting. Despite a booming economy, household saving rates sank to near-zero levels by 2005. Three years later, the U.S. economy experienced a housing and financial meltdown from which we have yet to recover. Americans now contend with massive credit card debt, declining home prices, and shaky financial institutions. It has become painfully clear that millions lack the savings to protect themselves against foreclosures, unemployment, medical emergencies, and impoverished retirements.
The United States and the Global Economy: From Bretton Woods to the Current Crisis
By Frederick S. Weaver
Summary via publisher, Roman & Littlefield
Financial collapse. Global recession. The revival of free-market policies. Massive and increasing inequalities. Housing bubbles and record foreclosures. Severe strain in the European Union. Emergence of China and other major players on the international economic scene. Every day, media outlets bombard us with news and possible explanations for the financial, economic, and political crises. In The United States and the Global Economy, Frederick S. Weaver gives readers a concise introduction to the patterns of change in international financial and trade regimes since World War II in order to clarify recent global economic turmoil. Weaver has compiled a clear chronology of major events in the international economy to show how they have reflected and shaped changes in the domestic economy of the United States. Although U.S. dominance over the world economy is not as complete as it once was, U.S. domestic economic processes continue to have profound effects on global economic affairs.
Back to Work: Why We Need Smart Government for a Strong Economy
By Bill Clinton
Review via The Economist
Mr Clinton says he was prompted to write by the success in the 2010 mid-term elections of what he calls the “antigovernment” movement, which has prevented much of the action that is necessary to tackle joblessness. He bemoans the end of an era when Republicans and Democrats in Washington, DC, could disagree on policies but essentially share a common set of facts and the view that, one way or another, government was there to help.
What Works on Wall Street, Fourth Edition: The Classic Guide to the Best-Performing Investment Strategies of All Time
By James P. O’Shaughnessy
Summary via publisher, McGraw-Hill
Containing all new data, What Works on Wall Street, Fourth Edition, is the only investing guide that lets you see today’s market in its proper context— as part of the historical ebb and flow of the stock market. And when you see the data, you’ll see there is no argument: Stocks work. Now in its second decade of helping investors succeed with stocks, What Works on Wall Street continues to provide the most effective investing strategies, presenting incontrovertible data on what works and what doesn’t. Updated with current statistics and brand-new features, What Works on Wall Street offers data on almost 90 years of market performance….
The Price of Fish: A New Approach to Wicked Economics and Better Decisions
By Michael Mainelli and Ian Harris
Review via SalterBaxter Blog
The world today is faced with a series of huge difficulties among which are unstable financial markets, depletion of natural resources, a rapidly growing population and unstable political environment. The world is full of ‘wicked problems’ that are not easy to solve in the neat, theoretical ways. The Price of Fish, by Professor Michael Mainelli and Ian Harris, sets out a powerful new approach to making better decisions, beyond economics alone. Diminishing fish stocks are an example of a wicked problem – the price of fish cannot be right when there is over-fishing, hunger and ruined seas. Getting to the right price will require a blend of different answers. Mainelli and Harris explore possible answers to over-fishing, as well as other wicked problems. The Price of Fish takes the reader on a journey through areas of knowledge, including choice architecture, systems and evolution that need to be understood to explain how the world really works.