The Great Recession that began in 2007 is now more than four years old - and counting. Some 24 million Americans are unemployed or underemployed, and at recent rates of job creation we won’t be back to normal levels of employment until late this decade. This is a tragedy. Do we have to accept it?
"No!" is the resounding answer given by Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman in this call to arms. We have seen this situation before and we know how to fix it; all we lack is the political will to take action. Krugman walks us through the financial crisis that triggered the greatest downturn since the Great Depression and outlines the efforts that have been made thus far.
The way forward is clear: Our priority must be to get ourselves back on the path to growth; every day that we lag behind normal production levels only adds to the astronomical economic loss of this depression. What we need for a rapid, powerful recovery is precisely what we've needed in crises past - a burst of government spending to jump-start the economy. We owe it not only to the unemployed, but to everyone affected by this tragedy to end this depression now.
We've sent an email with your order details. Order ID #:
To access this title, visit your library in the app or on the desktop website.
Listen to this before you vote!
- Michael "I focus on fiction, sci-fi, fantasy, science, history, politics and read a lot. I try to review everything I read."
How to Drive Out of a Ditch
In this short book Paul Krugman argues for Keynesian fiscal stimulus as the way out of our economic mess. The current troubles, he says, resulted from a banking crisis that was precipitated as New Deal-era controls on financial recklessness were dismantled. The resulting collapse in demand left the economy chronically depressed, with an intractable overhang of private debt. The solution has been known by the economics profession ever since the triumph of that massive program of federal deficit spending known as WWII, and is there for the taking, right now. The only question is whether we will do what is necessary.
Much of the book is devoted to pushing back against conservative economic dogma, and there are many I-told-you-so moments, as we revisit predictions of right-wing pundits that have not aged well. Remember when interest rates skyrocketed as bond investors lost faith in our national solvency? No? How about our Weimar-style hyperinflation? But while the author is plenty scornful of conservatives, he is also critical of the Obama administration for bungling the politics. By accepting a stimulus package that its own economic team knew would be insufficient without even arguing for more; by indulging in happy talk about “green shoots” and a “summer of recovery” when the economy was still depressed; by “pivoting” to the deficit when the deficit was the least of our worries—the administration brought discredit on its own efforts, accepted the framing of the opposition, and made policies that were correct in direction, if not in scale, seem like failures. So says Krugman.
All of this will be recognizable to his fans, along with many familiar turns of phrase: the shadow banks; the liquidity trap; the zero lower bound; the confidence fairy; the bond vigilantes; and the conventional wisdom of Very Serious People (properly attributed). For those who already read Krugman’s Times columns and nod along, the book provides more thorough presentation of his views (with charts!). But it should be especially valuable for those who are not yet persuaded, because he doesn't merely assert his points, he tries to prove them. He lays out his reasoning clearly in a readable, lucid style, with very little technical jargon. He supports his arguments with historical and contemporary examples from the real world, and occasional references to professional literature. He acknowledges his opponents and takes on their actual arguments, without caricature. He believes in evidence and produces it. He doesn’t pound the table. I find him completely convincing, but whatever your views, I think you will give him credit for making his case.
One quibble: I’m not sure that the audiobook is an ideal format for this kind of presentation. Although it’s a terrific read, the book could also be useful as a reference, since so many of its subjects are issues in the daily news. But it’s not easy to locate particular passages or topics when the book is an audio file.