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Aftershock: The Next Economy and America’s Future | [Robert Reich]

Aftershock: The Next Economy and America’s Future

The author of 12 acclaimed books, Robert B. Reich is a Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley, and has served in three national administrations. While many blamed Wall Street for the financial meltdown, Aftershock points a finger at a national economy in which wealth is increasingly concentrated at the top - and where a grasping middle class simply does not have the resources to remain viable.
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Publisher's Summary

The author of 12 acclaimed books, Robert B. Reich is a Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley, and has served in three national administrations.

While many blamed Wall Street for the financial meltdown, Aftershock points a finger at a national economy in which wealth is increasingly concentrated at the top - and where a grasping middle class simply does not have the resources to remain viable.

©2010 Robert B. Reich (P)2010 Recorded Books, LLC

What the Critics Say

"Reich's thesis is well argued and frighteningly plausible: without a return to the 'basic bargain' (that workers are also consumers), the "aftershock" of the Great Recession includes long-term high unemployment and a political backlash - a crisis, he notes with a sort of grim optimism, that just might be painful enough to encourage necessary structural reforms." (Publishers Weekly)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.1 (462 )
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  •  
    Chris 10-06-10
    Chris 10-06-10
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    "Very plausible assessment of our economy"

    I heard Mr Reich discuss this book on NPR and immediately downloaded this Audible version. His arguments are very clear, and I 100% agree with his analysis. I’m not completely sure I agree with his solutions – but they are thought provoking ideas. I energetically recommend this book to anyone who is trying to understand these times

    20 of 20 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joshua Kim Etna, NH, United States 06-10-12
    Joshua Kim Etna, NH, United States 06-10-12 Member Since 2005

    mostly nonfiction listener

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    "5 Concise Reasons to Read"

    I love short books. Can you recommend any good, but concise, nonfiction? Great reads under 200 pages?

    Here are my 5 concise reasons to read Robert Reich's latest book "Aftershock: The Next Economy and America's Future"

    Reason #1 - Conciseness: Most books are too long. Aftershock is a blessed 192 pages; 4 hours and 29 minutes short in audiobook format.

    Reason #2 - Originality: Reich's big argument is that out economy is fundamentally unbalanced. That the growth of inequality that has concentrated economic gains among the top 5 percent of the populations has resulted in an inability of most Americans to adequately consume. We cannot afford to buy what we produce (a problem near and dear to the heart of any parent who works in higher education).

    Reason #3 - The Higher Education Plan: Reich actually has a plan for higher education. He would make tuition free (to public institutions), and recoup the costs with a levy on future earnings for anyone who participated. His proposal is more complex than this description, and wildly unlikely to ever be enacted anywhere, but still fun to debate.

    Reason #4 - History: Reich was one of the first academic popularizers that I discovered. Back in 1992, he wrote The Work of Nations: Preparing Ourselves for 21st Century Capitalism, in which he argued that economic gains and options would accrue to the "symbolic analysts" - those who manipulate and create information. Reich was ahead of the game in 1992, and if we had listened more carefully to his warnings we might be in better shape today.

    Reason #5 - Narration: Reich narrates his own book - and does it beautifully. Usually reading what you have written does not work out so well. Narration is a skill best left to professional readers. But in this case, Reich is the right person to read his own words

    17 of 18 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Paul Gilroy, CA, United States 02-24-11
    Paul Gilroy, CA, United States 02-24-11 Member Since 2010

    Cosmic Dreamer

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    "Shocking, Scary, but with some hope"

    I've listened to this book twice so far and I will again. I assume the print version has pictures or graphics or charts that support his arguments. But Reich is persuasive without them. You can get an idea of that by listening to his commentaries on NPR's Marketplace. But here he gets to expound more fully. He imagines a future dystopia only 10 years away and it is a scary place indeed. So much so that you are surprised that he lets us even consider the possibility. Later he tells us a possible solution. By that time you might be thinking along the lines of Churchill who supposedly said "you can count on the Americans to do the right thing, after they have tried everything else."

    One of the strongest points about this Audible book is that it is read by the author. When you get to hear him in this format, his positions are rather apolitical and strongly moral. A conservative who doesn't like Krugman and doesn't believe Liz Ann Sonders should consider the malaise that Reich describes and decide if they have a plausible alternative. A liberal will feel more than a little chastised by Reich and realize that optimism alone won't restore America.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robert E Ballou 12-09-10

    I listen while driving. When I review, I'm much more apt to discuss the performance than the content. Sometimes, a bit of both.

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    "Hey! Rob Reich can read his own books!!"

    And he didn't do a bad job either! It's probably not easy to read your own book. The recording is clear and works just fine for the ear. Reich keeps the tone conversational throughout. Kudos to the sound engineer!

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kenneth LEESBURG, VA, United States 01-11-11
    Kenneth LEESBURG, VA, United States 01-11-11 Member Since 2005

    Old & fat, but strong; American, Chinese, & Indian (sort of); Ph.D. in C.S.; strategy, economics & stability theory; trees & machining.

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    "Why Must the Details Hurt so Much?"

    The book argues: 1) that the ???Great Recession of 2008??? required us had to spend a lot of money to avoid a second great depression, 2) that we failed to fix the root problems so we???re vulnerable to a repeat of the problems, and 3) that inadequate wealth redistribution was one of the core problems that we need to fix.

    In my review of Supercapitalism I said, ???[his ideas are great] ??? but as an intellectual statement, he fails to address the question, ???How do we do this??????. This book seems to take that criticism seriously. It???s full of details specifying exactly what he thinks we should do. But the result is unsettling. At times I felt hypocritical, at other times I thought that the proposed action was mealy one of many that could follow from the assumptions, sometimes I agreed with him but felt that he???d gone too far, and sometimes I agreed but felt that some other political justification would be required.

    I personally think that most of the issues he???s dealing with are what I will call ???sweet spot issues???. For example too much wealth redistribution kills innovation in the manor of communism; too little wealth redistribution kills innovation in the manor of feudalism, but at the sweet spot innovation explodes and takes the economy through the stratosphere.

    These sweet spot issues are hard to discuss without being quite a bit more quantitative than is easy to do in a political discourse. Perhaps, lack of numeracy is a core problem with American political discourse.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Thomas Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada 12-14-10
    Thomas Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada 12-14-10 Member Since 2005
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    "Best understanding available"

    Reich gets it right with his analysis of how allowing the super-wealthy to capture the U.S. has led to its ruin, and how a rational re-distribution of wealth is a pre-condition of prosperity for both rich and poor. Very clearly written for the lay reader, this is the only explanation you need for how the financial system crashed in 2008.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Warren Franklin, KY, United States 10-15-10
    Warren Franklin, KY, United States 10-15-10
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Robert Reich is brilliant!!!"

    Once again Robert Reich nails it!!!
    Very clearly explains how we got in the financial mess, and his suggested ideas to correct it and to keep it from happening again.
    This book has really stimulated my thinking, and made me realize how wrong the current experts are in the way they are trying to address the challenges, with old solutions, that have been proven not to work.

    Highly recomended.

    Warren B. White
    Nashville, TN

    13 of 15 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Catherine Bryn Mawr, PA, United States 11-20-10
    Catherine Bryn Mawr, PA, United States 11-20-10 Member Since 2005
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    "a compelling argument clearly delivered"

    Robert Reich has a gift for explaining complex economic arguments in a language a non-economist can understand. His argument here is very compelling and goes down easy read in his friendly, familiar voice. I give it 4 instead of 5 stars because the last third of the audio book seems like filler added at the insistence of a publisher, not necessary to make his argument. But the whole is a very pleasant listen and certainly convinced me that tea party demogagues notwithstanding, the American public is looking not for smaller but for fairer government, and getting there is critical to economic recovery and to the recovery of the legitimacy of our political system.

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Christopher Santa Rosa, CA, United States 06-16-11
    Christopher Santa Rosa, CA, United States 06-16-11 Member Since 2005
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    "Excellent"

    An exceptional new reading of the economic crisis—and a plan for dealing with the challenge of its aftermath. Everyone from High School to those in places of power, (especially Congress) should read this treatise. Reich is brilliant.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    William Redding, CT, United States 10-18-12
    William Redding, CT, United States 10-18-12 Member Since 2012
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    "Defending the Indefensible"

    In an eloquent, wonderfully pleasant, soft, disarmingly convincing voice Robert Reich takes us through the looking glass into a world where fantasy is fact, black is white and white is black. As if it is not enough to fall through the looking glass, Reich delivers us into a world filled with mirrors where there is no way to tell what is real and what is an illusion. In Orwellian double speak, Reich repeatedly drives home the concept that if we can only focus closely on the wheels of the cart we will see that every time they turn, the horse moves.

    As the patient gets sicker he gleefully announces the patient is responding to the medicine. He extolls the engine of consumption as the thing that builds wealth and is quick to measure assets but totally ignores liabilities and fails to acknowledge the obvious; that consumption is by definition wealth destruction. In a disturbingly perverted view, Reich asserts that the mess we are in is because we have failed to adequately “share the wealth” while conveniently ignoring the fact that for more than 20 years every effort was made to push money at people in the form of low interest loans that bore no relevance to the associated risk.

    His enamor of Eccles, the privateer who helped FDR revitalize the economy, is so gushing that perhaps he can be excused for allowing it to cloud his mind when he manages the great leap of connecting two dots and establishing a trend, forgetting about the small sample size. There may be many reasons for the disproportion of wealth in our country in 1928 and 2007, but Reich uses it to erect a tower of defense of the great failure of 50 years of Keynesian economics better known as the great ice cream effect. Those who promise the most free ice cream to the most people will get elected. Had Reich written his book in 2007, no doubt we would have had a book of gushing acclaim that Keynes was right and the vast wealth spread across the middle class is proof of that. Instead, with the financial collapse, the tower began to crack in 2008 and Reich could not bring himself to accept his share of the blame for what ice cream givers had wrought even though he was one of the givers himself.

    Reich effortlessly holds up the wondrous recovery (ending in the 1950’s) from the great depression as proof that the Keynesian approach magically works, cleverly ignoring that given 30 years and just about any approach would have led to recovery. This book is a defense of the indefensible. It is a “someone else did it” defense and he points a finger squarely at the 1% of wealthy Americans for hoarding money, as if we are in a poker game and there are a fixed number of chips, ignoring the croupier behind him printing more chips every second and pouring them into the game by the truckload. Thanks to the ice cream givers we are now all about the “share the poverty” and now with his book in print, Reich can smugly say “I didn’t do it.” Read Peter Schiff’s book on “How and Economy Grows” to clear your head of Reich’s psychobabble. It is a bit corny but you will not end every chapter with your mouth agape thinking “What the hell did he say?”

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
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