Finance and the Good Society

  • by Robert J Shiller
  • Narrated by Walter Dixon
  • 10 hrs and 47 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

The reputation of the financial industry could hardly be worse than it is today in the painful aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis. New York Times best-selling economist Robert Shiller is no apologist for the sins of finance - he is probably the only person to have predicted both the stock market bubble of 2000 and the real estate bubble that led up to the subprime mortgage meltdown. But in this important and timely book, Shiller argues that, rather than condemning finance, we need to reclaim it for the common good. He makes a powerful case for recognizing that finance, far from being a parasite on society, is one of the most powerful tools we have for solving our common problems and increasing the general well-being. We need more financial innovation - not less - and finance should play a larger role in helping society achieve its goals.
Challenging the public and its leaders to rethink finance and its role in society, Shiller argues that finance should be defined not merely as the manipulation of money or the management of risk, but as the stewardship of society's assets. He explains how people in financial careers - from CEO, investment manager, and banker to insurer, lawyer, and regulator - can (and do) manage, protect, and increase these assets.
He describes how finance has historically contributed to the good of society through inventions such as insurance, mortgages, savings accounts, and pensions, and argues that we need to envision new ways to rechannel financial creativity to benefit society as a whole. Ultimately, Shiller shows how society can once again harness the power of finance for the greater good.

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What the Critics Say

"Drawing from history, economic theory, and keen observation of our economy, Robert Shiller brings a fresh perspective to a big issue - the role of finance in our society. He urges us to overcome the popular misperception that all finance is sleazy and to think broadly about how we can harness its power for the benefit of society as a whole." (Darrell Duffie, Graduate School of Business, Stanford University)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

A good intro to finance

R. Shiller draws a map of modern finance and connects the dots between our daily lives (and goals) and financial institutions, deals and innovations. The author, though he has warned of flaws in our system before, takes a hopeful tone here that the stakeholders in this society (we people) can innovate, nudge and wrestle finance into a better form for the future. (Sometimes the tone is almost cheery, making me chuckle as I can't help myself hearing the words as if spoken by the psychotic 1980's investment banker character Patrick Bateman in 'American Psycho,' making his absurdly cheery little speeches to dinner companions,) A fine companion book to this with different angles on the same topics is a deeply thought-out, yet amazingly clarifying, similar print book, 'Financing the Future' by F. Allen and G. Yago. It too is very worthwhile. If only I had read something like this in early college -- my life would have been different, as in, light-years ahead in understanding what's going on. Yes, one can criticise this approach and tone, but listening through this (finance's best case for itself) first would do a lot of people a lot of good.
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- Phil O.

Uniqueness of material outweighs pitfalls in writing

At many times his arguments or comments can come off question-begging.

In attempts to humanize finance, at times he attempts to imply that the general public's frustrations with financial institutions and high-financiers are based on some misguided jealousy or personal dissatisfaction rather than conscience of a perpetually unjust and non-inclusive system.

At the same time, he does a masterful job of effectively explaining 1) what the hell is going on 2) history of the financial system and how it has benefited society 3) how it can be improved to help everyone.
This man is undoubtedly an expert on the subject matter, and those both familiar and unfamiliar with the financial services industry can benefit from the quality of the content in this book.
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- Robin

Book Details

  • Release Date: 04-10-2012
  • Publisher: Gildan Media LLC