● Central Banking in the Twentieth Century
By John Singleton
Summary via publisher, Cambridge University Press
Central banks are powerful but poorly understood organisations. In 1900 the Bank of Japan was the only central bank to exist outside Europe but over the past century central banking has proliferated. John Singleton here explains how central banks and the profession of central banking have evolved and spread across the globe during this period. He shows that the central banking world has experienced two revolutions in thinking and practice, the first after the depression of the early 1930s, and the second in response to the high inflation of the 1970s and 1980s. In addition, the central banking profession has changed radically. In 1900 the professional central banker was a specialised type of banker, whereas today he or she must also be a sophisticated economist and a public official. Understanding these changes is essential to explaining the role of central banks during the recent global financial crisis.
● Japan’s Bubble, Deflation, and Long-term Stagnation
Edited by Koichi Hamada, Anil K Kashyap and David E. Weinstein
Summary via publisher, MIT Press
Japan’s economic bubble burst in the early 1990s, and the country entered its famous “lost decade”—a period of stagnation and economic disruption that persisted until 2003. The current declines in global equity and real estate markets have eerie parallels to Japan’s economic woes of the 1990s. If we are to avoid repeating Japan’s experience on a global scale, we must understand what happened, why it happened, and the effectiveness (or ineffectiveness) of Japan’s policy choices. In this volume, prominent economists—Japan specialists and others—bring state-of-the-art models and analytic tools to bear on these questions.
● Consumptionomics: Asia’s Role in Reshaping Capitalism and Saving the Planet
By Chandran Nair
Summary via publisher, Wiley
Consumption has been the fuel that has driven the engine of global capitalism. The recent financial crisis has seen the West’s leading economists and policy makers urging Asia to make a conscious effort to consume more and thereby help save the global economy. This is a view shaped by conventional wisdom which conveniently refuses to acknowledge both the unpleasant effects of consumption and the limits to growth. Consumptionomics argues that this blinkered view needs to be replaced by a more rational approach to the challenges of the 21st century. If Asians aspire to consumption levels taken for granted in the West the results will be environmentally catastrophic across the globe. Needless to say it will also have significant geopolitical impacts as nations scramble for diminishing resources.
● 2030: Technology That Will Change the World
By Rutger van Santen,Djan Khoe,and Bram Vermeer
Review via Foreign Affairs
This interesting book examines a potpourri of emerging technologies, discussing both the possibilities they may create to improve people’s lives in the future and the obstacles to developing and introducing them. The project started as a celebration of the 50th anniversary of Eindhoven University of Technology and involved interviews with more than 50 applied scientists and engineers on the evolution of diverse technologies in the coming decades. The technologies they describe are likely to be life-transforming in some respects (regarding personalized health care, for example) and disappointingly slow to arrive in others (regarding alternatives to fossil fuels, for example). The range of topics — including cryptography, geothermal energy, and influenza — is breathtaking, and the treatment of each subject is necessarily brief but informative. When discussing technology and finance, the book, started before the financial crisis but completed after it, is (rightly) harsh on the prevailing economists’ doctrinal view of financial markets.
● The Googlization of Everything: (And Why We Should Worry)
By Siva Vaidhyanathan
Review/interview via Publishers Weekly
There have been a few popular books in recent years detailing Google’s ascent in the digital world, notably Ken Auletta’s Googled: The End of the World as We Know It and Jeff Jarvis’s What Would Google Do. But there is another story, says author and media scholar Siva Vaidhyanathan. In his new book, The Googlization of Everything: And Why We Should Worry (Univ. of California Press) Vaidhyanathan explores the young company’s increasingly dominant role not just online but in our lives. “What is most fascinating about Google to me is its effect on us,” the author tells [Publishers Weekly]. “Its effect on the media business is interesting, but I wanted to write a book that could inform a casual Google user about some of the hazards and habits of Google. In that sense, my book is much more about us than it is about Google. In fact, the critical faults of the story I tell are ours, because we’ve become so addicted to getting more stuff, faster, for free.”