July Theme: Where is the Money?
Everyone from Liza Minnelli to R. Kelly knows that money makes the world go round. This month, Yale University Press authors are expanding on that observation to explore the fields of economics and global finance under the banner Where is the Money? It might seem like a simple question, but to really understand where the money is, why it’s going where it’s going, and what to do about it takes a considerable amount of study and research. Or at least a good book.
In Europe’s Deadlock, David Marsh explains how the Eurozone’s crisis management has actually made things worse. Countries with weak economies come to resent creditor nations, and creditor nations fear they will have to subsidize weaker countries indefinitely. Stephen D. King, author of When the Money Runs Out, finds fault not in the structure of the European Union but in a deficient understanding of economic history. As King explains in an interview with CNBC, sustained economic growth is an anomaly, but leaders have planned for the future as though it were a given.
Jennifer Taub traces the origins of 2008’s financial meltdown in Other People’s Houses. She points to decisions in the 1980s as the underlying problem, and argues that the U.S. is not currently doing enough to prevent another crisis. Tom Clark focuses on the effects of economic crises in his book Hard Times. He examines the social consequences of Great Recession and the Great Depression, and a great interactive infographic made by Kiln illustrates the outsize negative effects on the poor.
Straits seem dire, but Yale Press authors are hard at work on creative solutions to problems big and small. In Why Nudge? Cass R. Sunstein pushes back against John Stuart Mill’s Harm Principle, and argues for a form of paternalism rooted in behavioral economics. The government, his argument runs, should create structures that encourage people to make better decisions, financial and otherwise, in their daily lives. Joseph R. Blasi, author of The Citizen’s Share, writes that the government ought to create tax incentives for companies to share profits and ownership with their employees as a way of alleviating inequality. The book is now out in paperback, and the first chapter is available as an excerpt.
Orly Lobel writes about a different way to shake up companies in her book, Talent Wants to be Free. Lobel says that corporations that aggressively restrict their talent and secrets do more to stifle innovation than to protect revenue. In Austerity, Florian Schui presents another counter-intuitive idea: arguments for austerity are not rooted in economics. Schui explains that austerity—the notion that abstinence from consumption brings benefits to states, societies, or individuals—lingers on in today’s debates because of the moral and political sentiments that have long been associated with it.
Two Yale University Press authors address the economic position of the United States by considering its alliances. Richard Rosecrance writes in The Resurgence of the West that the U.S. should join forces with the European Union in order to unblock arteries of trade and investment. The alliance could also help both parties face East Asian challengers. In a partial echo of Rosecrance’s concerns, Stephen Roach highlights the dangerous ways in which the U.S. and China depend on one another. A pair of interviews about Unbalanced make the situation frighteningly clear.
While analysts like Roach predict that China will be the world’s next superpower, Timothy Beardson expresses his reservations in Stumbling Giant. Beardson makes the case that problems with stability, prosperity, identity, and honor may thwart the country’s ambition. Michael Reid discusses the trajectory of another potential global power in Brazil. The world’s fourth most populous democracy has enjoyed some effective reformist leadership but still has a raft of social problems to address going forward.
Anupam Chander and Edward Castronova focus less on who the major economic powers will be and more on how they will wield economic power in a digital age. In The Electronic Silk Road, Chander reveals the legal complications that have arisen alongside global Internet commerce. Cases like Facebook and the Pirate Bay demonstrate the need for countries to dismantle some barriers while still protecting consumer interests. Castronova’s book, Wildcat Currency, discusses everything from medieval banking to Bitcoin while making a case for the legitimacy of virtual money. He argues that leaders must seriously consider the legal, political, and economic effects of private currencies.
We hope you enjoy these economic titles, and if you want to save money and still read great books you can enter our Goodreads Giveaways for Brazil and Wildcat Currency. Make sure to enter by July 31st!