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AFFLUENT SOCIETY AND OTHER WRITINGS 1952-1967

Author: GALBRAITH, JOHN KENNETH
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Incisive and original, John Kenneth Galbraith wrote with an eloquence that burst the conventions of his discipline and won a readership none of his fellow economists could match. This Library of America volume, the first devoted to economics, gathers four of his key early works, the books that established him as one of the leading public intellectuals of the last century.

In American Capitalism, Galbraith exposes with great panache the myth of American free-market competition. The idea that an impersonal market sets prices and wages, and maintains balance between supply and demand, remained so vital in American economic thought, Galbraith argued, because oligopolistic American businessmen never acknowledged their collective power. Also overlooked was the way that groups such as unions and regulatory agencies react to large oligopolies by exerting countervailing power--a concept that was the book's lasting contribution.

The Great Crash, 1929 offers a gripping account of the most legendary (and thus misunderstood) financial collapse in American history, as well as an inquiry into why it led to sustained depression. Galbraith posits five reasons: unusually high income inequality; a bad, overleveraged corporate structure; an unsound banking system; unbalanced foreign trade; and, finally, "the poor state of economic intelligence." His account is a trenchant analysis of the 1929 crisis and a cautionary tale of ignorance and hubris among stock-market players; not surprisingly, the book was again a bestseller in the wake of the 2008 economic collapse.

In The Affluent Society, the book that introduced the phrase "the conventional wisdom" into the American lexicon, Galbraith takes on a shibboleth of free-market conservatives and Keynesian liberals alike: the paramount importance of production. For Galbraith, the American mania for production continued even in an era of unprecedented affluence, when the basic needs of all but an impoverished minority had easily been met. Thus the creation of new and spurious needs through advertising--leading to skyrocketing consumer debt, and eventually a private sector that is glutted at the expense of a starved public sector.

The New Industrial State stands as the most developed exposition of Galbraith's major themes. Examining the giant postwar corporations, Galbraith argued that the "technostructure" necessary for such vast organizations--comprising specialists in operations, marketing, and R&D--is primarily concerned with reducing risk, not with maximizing profits; it perpetuates stability through "the planning system." The book concludes with a prescient analysis of the "educational and scientific estate," which prefigures the "information economy" that has emerged since the book was published.

LIBRARY OF AMERICA is an independent nonprofit cultural organization founded in 1979 to preserve our nation's literary heritage by publishing, and keeping permanently in print, America's best and most significant writing. The Library of America series includes more than 300 volumes to date, authoritative editions that average 1,000 pages in length, feature cloth covers, sewn bindings, and ribbon markers, and are printed on premium acid-free paper that will last for centuries.

ALEXANDER HAMILTON ON FINANCE, CREDIT, AND DEBT

ALEXANDER HAMILTON ON FINANCE, CREDIT, AND DEBT

Author: COWEN, DAVID
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While serving as the first Treasury Secretary from 1789 to 1795, Alexander Hamilton engineered a financial revolution. Hamilton established the Treasury debt market, the dollar, and a central bank, while strategically prompting private entrepreneurs to establish securities markets and stock exchanges and encouraging state governments to charter a number of commercial banks and other business corporations. Yet despite a recent surge of interest in Hamilton, U.S. financial modernization has not been fully recognized as one of his greatest achievements.

This book traces the development of Hamilton's financial thinking, policies, and actions through a selection of his writings. The financial historians and Hamilton experts Richard Sylla and David J. Cowen provide commentary that demonstrates the impact Hamilton had on the modern economic system, guiding readers through Hamilton's distinguished career. The book showcases Hamilton's thoughts on the nation's founding, the need for a strong central government, confronting problems such as a depreciating paper currency and weak public credit, and the architecture of the financial system. His great state papers on public credit, the national bank, the mint, and manufactures instructed reform of the nation's finances and jumpstarted economic growth. Hamilton practiced what he preached: he played a key role in the founding of three banks and a manufacturing corporation, and his deft political maneuvering and economic savvy saved the fledgling republic's economy during the country's first full-blown financial crisis in 1792. Sylla and Cowen center Hamilton's writings on finance among his most important accomplishments, making his brilliance as an economic policy maker accessible to all interested in this Founding Father's legacy.

ARGUING WITH ZOMBIES: ECONOMICS, POLITICS, AND THE FIGHT FOR A BETTER FUTURE

ARGUING WITH ZOMBIES: ECONOMICS, POLITICS, AND THE FIGHT FOR A BETTER FUTURE

Author: KRUGMAN, PAUL
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There is no better guide than Paul Krugman to basic economics, the ideas that animate much of our public policy. Likewise, there is no stronger foe of zombie economics, the misunderstandings that just won't die.

In Arguing with Zombies, Krugman tackles many of these misunderstandings, taking stock of where the United States has come from and where it's headed in a series of concise, digestible chapters. Drawn mainly from his popular New York Times column, they cover a wide range of issues, organized thematically and framed in the context of a wider debate. Explaining the complexities of health care, housing bubbles, tax reform, Social Security, and so much more with unrivaled clarity and precision, Arguing with Zombies is Krugman at the height of his powers.

It is an indispensable guide to two decades' worth of political and economic discourse in the United States and around the globe, and now includes a preface on Zombies in the Age of COVID-19. With quick, vivid sketches, Krugman turns his readers into intelligent consumers of the daily news and hands them the keys to unlock the concepts behind the greatest economic policy issues of our time. In doing so, he delivers an instant classic that can serve as a reference point for this and future generations.

ASCENT OF MONEY: A Financial History of the World

ASCENT OF MONEY: A Financial History of the World

Author: FERGUSON, NIALL
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The 10th anniversary edition, with new chapters on the crash, Chimerica, and cryptocurrency

In this updated edition, Niall Ferguson brings his classic financial history of the world up to the present day, tackling the populist backlash that followed the 2008 crisis, the descent of Chimerica into a trade war, and the advent of cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin, with his signature clarity and expert lens.

The Ascent of Money reveals finance as the backbone of history, casting a new light on familiar events: the Renaissance enabled by Italian foreign exchange dealers, the French Revolution traced back to a stock market bubble, the 2008 crisis traced from America's bankruptcy capital, Memphis, to China's boomtown, Chongqing. We may resent the plutocrats of Wall Street but, as Ferguson argues, the evolution of finance has rivaled the importance of any technological innovation in the rise of civilization. Indeed, to study the ascent and descent of money is to study the rise and fall of Western power itself.

BASIC INCOME: A RADICAL PROPOSAL FOR A FREE SOCIETY AND A SANE ECONOMY

BASIC INCOME: A RADICAL PROPOSAL FOR A FREE SOCIETY AND A SANE ECONOMY

Author: VAN PARIJS, PHILIPPE
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"Powerful as well as highly engaging--a brilliant book."
--Amartya Sen

A Times Higher Education Book of the Week

It may sound crazy to pay people whether or not they're working or even looking for work. But the idea of providing an unconditional basic income to everyone, rich or poor, active or inactive, has long been advocated by such major thinkers as Thomas Paine, John Stuart Mill, and John Kenneth Galbraith. Now, with the traditional welfare state creaking under pressure, it has become one of the most widely debated social policy proposals in the world. Basic Income presents the most acute and fullest defense of this radical idea, and makes the case that it is our most realistic hope for addressing economic insecurity and social exclusion.

"They have set forth, clearly and comprehensively, what is probably the best case to be made today for this form of economic and social policy."
--Benjamin M. Friedman, New York Review of Books

"A rigorous analysis of the many arguments for and against a universal basic income, offering a road map for future researchers."
--Wall Street Journal

"What Van Parijs and Vanderborght bring to this topic is a deep understanding, an enduring passion and a disarming optimism."
--Steven Pearlstein, Washington Post

BATTLE OF BRETTON WOODS: JOHN MAYNARD KEYNES, HARRY DEXTER WHITE, AND THE MAKING OF A NEW WORLD ORDER

BATTLE OF BRETTON WOODS: JOHN MAYNARD KEYNES, HARRY DEXTER WHITE, AND THE MAKING OF A NEW WORLD ORDER

Author: STEIL, BENN
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A sweeping history of the drama, intrigue, and rivalry behind the creation of the postwar economic order

When turmoil strikes world monetary and financial markets, leaders invariably call for 'a new Bretton Woods' to prevent catastrophic economic disorder and defuse political conflict. The name of the remote New Hampshire town where representatives of forty-four nations gathered in July 1944, in the midst of the century's second great war, has become shorthand for enlightened globalization. The actual story surrounding the historic Bretton Woods accords, however, is full of startling drama, intrigue, and rivalry, which are vividly brought to life in Benn Steil's epic account.

Upending the conventional wisdom that Bretton Woods was the product of an amiable Anglo-American collaboration, Steil shows that it was in reality part of a much more ambitious geopolitical agenda hatched within President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Treasury and aimed at eliminating Britain as an economic and political rival. At the heart of the drama were the antipodal characters of John Maynard Keynes, the renowned and revolutionary British economist, and Harry Dexter White, the dogged, self-made American technocrat. Bringing to bear new and striking archival evidence, Steil offers the most compelling portrait yet of the complex and controversial figure of White--the architect of the dollar's privileged place in the Bretton Woods monetary system, who also, very privately, admired Soviet economic planning and engaged in clandestine communications with Soviet intelligence officials and agents over many years.

A remarkably deft work of storytelling that reveals how the blueprint for the postwar economic order was actually drawn, The Battle of Bretton Woods is destined to become a classic of economic and political history.

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BOURGEOIS DIGNITY: Why Economics Can't Explain the Modern

Author: MCCLOSKEY, DEIRDRE
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The big economic story of our times is not the Great Recession. It is how China and India began to embrace neoliberal ideas of economics and attributed a sense of dignity and liberty to the bourgeoisie they had denied for so long. The result was an explosion in economic growth and proof that economic change depends less on foreign trade, investment, or material causes, and a whole lot more on ideas and what people believe.

Or so says Deirdre N. McCloskey in Bourgeois Dignity, a fiercely contrarian history that wages a similar argument about economics in the West. Here she turns her attention to seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Europe to reconsider the birth of the industrial revolution and the rise of capitalism. According to McCloskey, our modern world was not the product of new markets and innovations, but rather the result of shifting opinions about them. During this time, talk of private property, commerce, and even the bourgeoisie itself radically altered, becoming far more approving and flying in the face of prejudices several millennia old. The wealth of nations, then, didn't grow so dramatically because of economic factors: it grew because rhetoric about markets and free enterprise finally became enthusiastic and encouraging of their inherent dignity.

An utterly fascinating sequel to her critically acclaimed book The Bourgeois Virtues, Bourgeois Dignity is a feast of intellectual riches from one of our most spirited and ambitious historians--a work that will forever change our understanding of how the power of persuasion shapes our economic lives.

BOURGEOIS EQUALITY: HOW IDEAS, NOT CAPITAL OR INSTITUTIONS, ENRICHED THE WORLD

BOURGEOIS EQUALITY: HOW IDEAS, NOT CAPITAL OR INSTITUTIONS, ENRICHED THE WORLD

Author: MCCLOSKEY, DEIRDRE N.
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There's little doubt that most humans today are better off than their forebears. Stunningly so, the economist and historian Deirdre McCloskey argues in the concluding volume of her trilogy celebrating the oft-derided virtues of the bourgeoisie. The poorest of humanity, McCloskey shows, will soon be joining the comparative riches of Japan and Sweden and Botswana.

Why? Most economists--from Adam Smith and Karl Marx to Thomas Piketty--say the Great Enrichment since 1800 came from accumulated capital. McCloskey disagrees, fiercely. "Our riches," she argues, "were made not by piling brick on brick, bank balance on bank balance, but by piling idea on idea." Capital was necessary, but so was the presence of oxygen. It was ideas, not matter, that drove "trade-tested betterment." Nor were institutions the drivers. The World Bank orthodoxy of "add institutions and stir" doesn't work, and didn't. McCloskey builds a powerful case for the initiating role of ideas--ideas for electric motors and free elections, of course, but more deeply the bizarre and liberal ideas of equal liberty and dignity for ordinary folk. Liberalism arose from theological and political revolutions in northwest Europe, yielding a unique respect for betterment and its practitioners, and upending ancient hierarchies. Commoners were encouraged to have a go, and the bourgeoisie took up the Bourgeois Deal, and we were all enriched.

Few economists or historians write like McCloskey--her ability to invest the facts of economic history with the urgency of a novel, or of a leading case at law, is unmatched. She summarizes modern economics and modern economic history with verve and lucidity, yet sees through to the really big scientific conclusion. Not matter, but ideas. Big books don't come any more ambitious, or captivating, than Bourgeois Equality.

BOURGEOIS VIRTUES: ETHICS FOR AN AGE OF COMMERCE

BOURGEOIS VIRTUES: ETHICS FOR AN AGE OF COMMERCE

Author: McCLOSKEY, DEIRDRE
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For a century and a half, the artists and intellectuals of Europe have scorned the bourgeoisie. And for a millennium and a half, the philosophers and theologians of Europe have scorned the marketplace. The bourgeois life, capitalism, Mencken's "booboisie" and David Brooks's "bobos"--all have been, and still are, framed as being responsible for everything from financial to moral poverty, world wars, and spiritual desuetude. Countering these centuries of assumptions and unexamined thinking is Deirdre McCloskey's The Bourgeois Virtues, a magnum opus that offers a radical view: capitalism is good for us.

McCloskey's sweeping, charming, and even humorous survey of ethical thought and economic realities--from Plato to Barbara Ehrenreich--overturns every assumption we have about being bourgeois. Can you be virtuous and bourgeois? Do markets improve ethics? Has capitalism made us better as well as richer? Yes, yes, and yes, argues McCloskey, who takes on centuries of capitalism's critics with her erudition and sheer scope of knowledge. Applying a new tradition of "virtue ethics" to our lives in modern economies, she affirms American capitalism without ignoring its faults and celebrates the bourgeois lives we actually live, without supposing that they must be lives without ethical foundations.

High Noon, Kant, Bill Murray, the modern novel, van Gogh, and of course economics and the economy all come into play in a book that can only be described as a monumental project and a life's work. The Bourgeois Virtues is nothing less than a dazzling reinterpretation of Western intellectual history, a dead-serious reply to the critics of capitalism--and a surprising page-turner.

BUILDING THE NEW AMERICAN ECONOMY: SMART, FAIR, AND SUSTAINABLE

BUILDING THE NEW AMERICAN ECONOMY: SMART, FAIR, AND SUSTAINABLE

Author: SACHS, JEFFREY D.
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In this passionate and powerful book--part manifesto, part plan of action--the renowned economist Jeffrey D. Sachs offers a practical strategy to move America, seemingly more divided than ever, toward a new consensus: sustainable development. Sustainable development is a holistic approach that emphasizes economic, social, and environmental objectives in shaping policy. In focusing too much on economic growth, the United States has neglected rising economic inequality and dire environmental threats. Now, even growth is imperiled.

Sachs explores issues that have captivated the nation and political debate, including infrastructure, trade deals, energy policy, the proper size and role of government, the national debt, and income inequality. Not only does he provide illuminating and accessible explanations of the forces at work in each case, but he also presents specific policy solutions. His argument rises above the pessimism born of political paralysis, economic stagnation, and partisanship to devise a brighter way forward, achievable both individually and collectively. In Building the New American Economy, Sachs shows how the United States can find a path to renewed economic progress that is fair and environmentally sustainable.