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I love Nelson Runger's voice and I own as many of his narrations as I can find. Now, for the book. I enjoyed this from the first time I heard it many years ago. I still enjoy it, especially when we go through yet another financial crisis. Greed will keep us from learning the lessons of history. A not-verbatim saying from the book: "American Socialism is when the corporate jets land at Dulles." Sound familiar? We are doomed to repeat the same mistakes over and over again. It should be no surprise when what goes up will come down with a crash. Wall St. danced, now the rest of the world pays. Ooh, how many more cliches can I work in here? In a nutshell, this is history. Hindsight is always more accurate than foresight. You don't have to agree with the author's opinions, political or economic. Economics has always be an opinion science, not an exact science. Also, I recommend "Only Yesterday" by Frederick Lewis Allen and read by Grover Gardner. His book is an entertaining review of American cultural history from 1919-1929. Galbraith quotes Lewis faithfully.
7 of 7 people found this review helpful
I laughed, I cried, I gnashed my teeth. The best book on our current financial crisis was written in the 1960s. Galbraith is a Keynesian, but more pertinently an "institutional" economist in the great American tradition of Veblen. As such, his work is abhorred by market fundamentalists, and, alas, largely dismissed on technical grounds by modern day liberals like Krugman. Yet his reading of the Crash and Great Depression stands up today as few economics texts could. To paraphrase: Higher worker productivity and flat wages mean huge gains for the capitalist class. This produces overinvestment and overproduction unmatched by rising general consumption (so much for Say's Law), along with huge accumulations of global capital and a consequent orgy of speculation. The rich simply have too much money to deal with it rationally. Soon the rich and everybody else are riding fantastic stock bubbles that serve to disguise the wage disparity. Sound familiar? But it is the telling that is really worth the price. A wise and sardonic observer of human frailty, Galbraith is a pleasure to read, as when he describes one head of the stock market as "such a spectacularly unsuccessful businessman that his outright thefts were almost incidental." It is likewise hilarious to hear again and again in 1929 the refrain that "the fundamentals are sound," taking the words right out of Bush's mouth. More than ever this is an illuminating book. And essential reading now that the hardcore Reaganites are trying furiously to rewrite the history of the Depression, as well as the history of the last 20 years. Galbraith wrote this long before our current crisis, while the Chicago School and supply side conservatives were still touting the perfection of free markets and mastery of the business cycle.
The more people who read Galbraith, the less likely we will be to heed CNBC market thugs or elect the useful idiots of market fundamentalism.
30 of 34 people found this review helpful