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.
©2012 Paul Krugman (P)2012 Random House Audio
I focus on fiction, sci-fi, fantasy, science, history, politics and read a lot. I try to review everything I read.
I was quite impressed with this book. I did not agree with everything single thing the author suggests, but the author seems to take great care to both give clear evidence for his position and (which is quite rare) presents and refutes non-straw man arguments against his positions. Krugman does a great job of explaining economic issues with clarity and energy. Having studied the issues I did not learn a lot from this book, but I would recommend it to anyone who wants to better understand the current economic crisis and what could be done about it. I only wish the book was longer and more detailed. This book, in combination with The Big Short, puts this downturn into a clear context regarding what happened and why recovery has been so slow to come.
I recommend looking at the available pdf carefully before listening and referring to the charts as necessary. The narration was excellent making the detailed material actually fun to listen to.
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.
Say something about yourself!
This is an excellent review of economics and the current financial and political situation. It is a must read before you go to the voting booth in November.
mostly nonfiction listener
I learned many things from reading Krugman's new book. 3 of which I will share:
1. That I like Paul Krugman's books better than I like his NYT's column.
2. That a high unemployment, stratified and slow-growing economy is most likely our "new normal."
3. That we need to have a serious (and hopefully informed) discussion in this country about Keynesian economics.
On the first point, I think that Paul Krugman does better with a book length format than the near sound-bite space available in a column. Krugman is clearly livid that the the Obama administration failed to push forward a stimulus plan that he considers anywhere near large enough to bring down high unemployment, but his arguments in End This Depression Now! come across as more balanced and measured than his NYT's writing.
The long form of a book allows Krugman the space to develop his arguments and to support his points with evidence and historical examples. While the book contains plenty of politics and descriptions of the failings of politicians (of both parties), it is more of an economic than a political treatise. I always felt that Krugman was on surer ground when explaining economic principles rather than political motivations, a belief that reading End This Depression Now! only reinforces.
Should you read this book? If you are already predisposed to the core Keynesian belief that government should have a role in stimulating demand (by spending) during a recession (low consumer/business spending and idle economic capacity) then reading this book will only strengthen this belief. Getting a good grasp on the fundamental economic arguments (both for and against) for Keynesian type stimulus is a worthwhile activity for anyone interested in the workings of the economy.
But what if you are of a more conservative bent, outside of Krugman's usual readership? For you I have an even greater hope that you will read End This Depression Now! so that we can go to coffee (I'm buying) and we can discuss what you make of Krugman's arguments. I found Krugman to be persuasive, and I'd like to hear your arguments in response.
What are you reading?
Comparing fundamentalist belief about depression economics with reality. Since 2009 austerity advocates have predicted runaway inflation by 2010, 2011, and certainly by 2012. Where is it it? They have been dead wrong yet still in denial about what will end the slump that started with the 2008 financial meltdown. The charts, the facts, the figures are here. This book also gives an understanding of the Eurozone, the problem with one currency, and the failure of austerity there.
I never appreciated how well a real economist can explain economics in scientific terms. I am so used to hearing it from the POV of "traders" and "talking heads". It gives me hope there is a solution to this "depression". However, don't expect this book to make you feel good. It is rather sobering.
Due to the immensity of the topic, I tried to read it from the library but it would have taken too long to read. The audio version allowed me to get through it easily.
The nature of liquidity and how important it is. Also, it is sobering to think our legislators are so determined to go the austerity route that has failed in every instance.
Top 5 all time
Its common knowledge backed with hard stats
Totally hated the Narrator, since author Paul Krugman would've been the obvious choice, because he naturally has that wise guy type sarcastic humor
No! you will def need to break it off in multiple sessions, i prefer them during my long drives
Awesome well researched masterpiece, luv it
Nobel-Princeton economist Krugman explains a complex situation so clearly, calmly, and factually. As an investor I need accurate and complete facts, not spin and shouting. But too many PhD economists these days emphasize spin and political bias over facts and logic.
Rob Shapiro also narrates "Predator Nation" a 2012 book by the award winning Charles H. Ferguson. I am halfway through it now. Another A+ narration.
The economy could easily have been cured in 2009 by applying basic freshman Economics 101. And it is not too late to do so now.
Krugman brilliantly explains and documents how we will all be better off in the long run and short run by unfreezing the economy by embracing the time honored principles of Keynesian economics. A must read.
Highly recommended - Great survey of how we got here - what are the issues facing us and what we need to do - Backed up with facts, figures, history and a workable model of the economy. I can see what he got his Nobel Prize.
If I could
It's a fascinating and accessible explanation of current economics. Given the impact of the political decisions on our lives, it's a useful read/listen to help make sense of the world.
"Buy this book now!"
There are some excellent books out there that explain how the current economic slump came about. The Big Short is a great example of that approach. This Time Is Different is great on how things are likely to unfold from here. Not very cheery but extremely solid in its evidence base. Paul Krugman manages to do something different in as much as he gets off the fence and tells us how to fix it. You might not agree with him but he's got an engaging style, the ability to explain complex concepts in a clear and entartaining way and a Nobel prize on his side.
(As seen through my blurry and leaky perception...)
I really enjoyed hearing another frame from what I'm used to hearing on the British media.
He does a great job conveying the price of the government not launching a more massive intervention in the economy what was seen during the 'american reinvestment and recovery act': trillions of dollars of lost production over years, human misery and a loss of spirit (the lost generation), rusting of essential value adding public services (education and social services)...
I loved the outline of the 'fresh' and 'salt' water streams of economic thought and how their wrestling perceptions of reality are having material impacts on our society, Ideas DO matter!
Informative and enjoyable discussion, and response to, pro-austerity thought.
So it turns out that the the federal government is paying record low interest rates?? That wealth holders want to pay the state, as inflation reduces already tiny bond interest rates, to keep their property safe? It's the same story in Britain?
These are some of the things I learned from listening to this well produced and, perhaps most importantly, enjoyable audio book.
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