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The Grand Pursuit Review by Choice Review Robert Heilbroner’s The Worldly Philosophers (1953; 7th ed., 1999) educated generations with its sweeping story of how great economists from Adam Smith to John Maynard Keynes accounted for the ways of the modern economy. Nasar’s Grand Pursuit is a worthy successor to Heilbroner’s story, but her tale is both more and less ambitious than Heilbroner’s. Her focus is narrower, for one thing, but, as a consequence, it is richer and teaches more about economics. Nasar (Columbia Univ. School of Journalism), a former economics journalist, now gives a grand but not overly generalized story of the ideas of a set of thinkers who transformed economics in the 20th century. Beginning really with Alfred Marshall and the Webbs, Nasar provides a history of the interlocking relationship of ideas among Joseph Schumpeter, John Maynard Keynes, F. A. Hayek, Joan Robinson, and Amartya Sen. Her story tells readers that there is more to the 20th century than the Keynes-Hayek debate (compare to Nicholas Wapshott’s Keynes Hayek, CH, Jan’12, 49-2797). Summing Up: Highly recommended. All readership levels. R. B. Emmett James Madison College, Michigan State University Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Beyond the Keynesian Endpoint Front Cover Copy During the Great Depression, legendary British economist John Maynard Keynes advocated using government money to fill the economic void until consumer spending and business investment recovered. But what happens when governments can’t do that anymore? That’s “The Keynesian Endpoint”: when the money runs out before the economy has been rescued, and investors refuse to accept any more sovereign debt.
That’s where we are. In the United States and worldwide, debt-fueled spending programs devised to cure the global financial crisis have morphed into poison. Exhausted national balance sheets have left policy makers with few viable options to bolster economic growth, pointing leaders and citizens toward brutal choices that were previously unimaginable.
In Beyond the Keynesian Endpoint, PIMCO Executive Vice President, portfolio manager, and market strategist Tony Crescenzi illuminates the frightening new world we now inhabit. Crescenzi dissects each scenario swirling around the mounting global debt crisis and reveals its profound implications for governments, investors, and the global economy.
Car Guys v. Bean Counters Review by Kirkus Book ReviewA former top GM executive and avowed gearhead warns against the advance of soulless number-crunchers clueless about the hands-on details of the car business.To Lutz (Guts: 8 Laws of Business from One of the Most Innovative Business Leaders of Our Time, 2003), it’s not rocket science: Design and build the cars and trucks that customers want, and the rest will fall into place. This was his job as a GM vice chairman from 2001 to 2010. At the tableif not running the meetingwhen most of the big decisions came down, the author, now in his late 70s, was often appalled by youthful bean-counting MBAs with their 4.0 GPAs but no common car sense.What matters, Lutz argues, is having on board at least one automotive artist with the talent to design desirable new cars. The author’s talent, equally rare, was recognizing a good design, or a bad one drawn to bean-counter specs. His frequent criticism of the press is sometimes churlish, as when he alleges that unnecessarily harsh and ill-informed lefty journalism gave the Hummer H2on which he signed offan unjustifiably bad rep. He closes with the recognition that having a media-savvy, talking-head CEO is now a must and in the best interest of the business in which he worked for 47 years. The author also predicts GM’s battery-and-gas-powered Volt will dominate the highways of the future, and he includes close accounts of GM’s 2009 bankruptcy, government bailout and subsequent reemergence as a trimmed-down shadow of its former corporate self.Well worth the rideif not necessarily the car.]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
The Next Convergence Review by Booklist ReviewCo ntrary to his book’s title, Nobel Prize-winning economist Spence does less prognosticating than one might expect. Indeed, early on he shares a chart showing just how inaccurately economists predicted growth during the 1990s. Instead, he offers a comprehensive summary of the forces at play in today’s global economy: removal of trade barriers, the lightning-fast transfer of knowledge from developed to emerging economies, global demand, resources, the role of national and international governments, and the management (or not) of currency rates, among others. Spence’s style is pretty flat (Where’s John Kenneth Galbraith when we need him?), and he seems to underestimate the looming role of climate change in any economic scenario. Yet his status report could give attentive readers a more empowered role in their own economic future.–Moores, Ala. Copyright 2010 Booklist
The Wizard of Lies Front Cover Copy Who is Bernie Madoff, and how did he pull off the biggest Ponzi scheme in history? This question has fascinated people ever since the news broke about the New York financier who swindled his friends, relatives, and other investors out of $65 billion. And in The Wizard of Lies, Diana B. Henriques of The New York Times has written the definitive book on the man and his scheme, drawing on unprecedented access and more than one hundred interviews, including Bernie Madoff’s first interviews for publication since his arrest. Henriques also provides vivid details from the lawsuits and government investigations that explode the myths that have come to surround the story, and in a revised and expanded epilogue she unravels the latest legal developments. A true-life financial thriller, The Wizard of Lies contrasts Madoff’s remarkable rise on Wall Street with dramatic scenes from his accelerating slide toward self-destruction. It is also the most complete account of the heartbreaking personal disasters and landmark legal battles triggered by Madoff’s downfall – the suicides, business failures, fractured families, shuttered charities – and the clear lessons this timeless scandal offers to Washington, Wall Street, and Main Street.
In the Plex: How Google Works, Thinks and Shapes Our Lives Review by Publisher’s Weekly Review The contradictions of the Internet search behemoth are teased apart in this engaging, slightly starry-eyed business history. Wired magazine writer Levy (Hackers) insightfully recaps Google’s groundbreaking search engine and fabulously profitable online ad-brokering business, and elucidates the cutting-edge research and hard-nosed cost-efficiencies underlying them. He also regales readers with the “Googley” corporate culture of hip techno-capitalism: the elitist focus on braininess, the campus game rooms, the countercultural rectitude of billionaire founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin (which can read more like puerile arrogance as they roller-blade into meetings with business-suited squares). Levy’s narrative updates a familiar portrait of the company, with breathless accounts of recent innovations. He offers a smart analysis of the tensions between Google’s “‘Don’t Be Evil’” slogan and its censorship of its Chinese Web site and the privacy implications of its drive to sponge up all information-but he accepts Google’s blinkered conception of e-ethics and its demands for huge tax breaks with too much complacency. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Lifeblood Review by Publisher’s Weekly Review Perry (Falling Off the Edge) examines the struggle to fight malaria, which infects more than 708,000 people a year-mostly children-in his important, clear-eyed study of the epidemic. In his travels in Uganda and throughout Africa, Perry saw the casualties of the mosquito-borne disease firsthand, and his analysis draws on his conversations with doctors and diplomats, grieving parents, and frustrated aid workers. For decades scientists have known that the disease can be virtually eradicated by a combination of insect-killing chemicals and bed nets, costing only $10 a piece. Sadly, malaria is “a genocide of apathy,” in which governmental and aid agencies consistently fall short in their attempts to stop the spread of the disease. Combining business acumen with humanitarian goals, independent activists like Ray Chambers have achieved major advances against the epidemic while global health organizations have fallen short. Malaria costs Africa $30-$40 billion each year, Chambers tells Perry, and points out that his work-distributing 42 million bed nets to Nigeria, “didn’t just save lives. It saved money too.” In this compulsively readable primer on a devastating epidemic, Perry shows how Chambers’s approach-creating economic incentives and emphasizing local action over top-down mandates-offers a daring new model for tackling one of the most intractable crises of our time. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.