Meltdown: A Free-Market Look at Why the Stock Market Collapsed, the Economy Tanked, and Government Bailouts Will Make Things Worse (Hardcover)
by Thomas E. Woods Jr. (Author), Ron Paul (Foreword)
From the Inside Flap
Is Capitalism the Culprit?
The media tells us that "deregulation" and "unfettered free markets" have wrecked our economy and will continue to make things worse without a heavy dose of federal regulation. But the real blame lies elsewhere. In Meltdown, bestselling author Thomas E. Woods Jr. unearths the real causes behind the collapse of housing values and the stock market--and it turns out the culprits reside more in Washington than on Wall Street.
And the trillions of dollars in federal bailouts? Our politicians' ham-handed attempts to fix the problems they themselves created will only make things much worse.
Woods, a senior fellow at the Ludwig von Mises Institute and winner of the 2006 Templeton Enterprise Award, busts the media myths and government spin. He explains how government intervention in the economy--from the Democratic hobby horse called Fannie Mae to affirmative action programs like the Community Redevelopment Act--actually caused the housing bubble.
Most important, Woods, author of the New York Times bestseller The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History, traces this most recent boom-and-bust--and all such booms and busts of the past century--back to one of the most revered government institutions of all: the Federal Reserve System, which allows busy-body bureaucrats and ambitious politicians to pull the strings of our financial sector and manipulate the value of the very money we use.
Meltdown also provides a timely history lesson to counter the current clamor for a new New Deal. The Great Depression, Woods demonstrates, was only as deep and as long as it was because of the government interventions by Herbert Hoover (no free-market capitalist, despite what your high school history teacher may have taught you) and Franklin D. Roosevelt (no savior of the American economy, in spite of what the mainstream media says). If you want to understand what caused the financial meltdown--and why none of the big-government solutions being tried today will work--Meltdown explains it all.
- posted on 03/11/2009
Getting Off Track: How Government Actions and Interventions Caused, Prolonged, and Worsened the Financial Crisis (Hoover Institution Press Publication) (Hardcover)
by John B. Taylor (Author)
Big problems confront us, and responses of immense size are on the table. We desperately need a solid and fact-based analysis so that we get the prescription right. John Taylor provides just that. A must-read for everyone involved. --George Shultz, former secretary of Treasury, State, and Labor and Budget Director
John Taylor is one of the very few who points out the errors that the Federal Reserve made during this difficult period and also shows how they could avoid them. Members of Congress should read this book instead of looking for scapegoats in the wrong places.--Allan Meltzer, author of The History of the Federal Reserve
Cogent, thorough and compelling, Taylor sums up his argument in his subtitle: How Government Actions and Interventions Caused, Prolonged and Worsened the Financial Crisis. Take a moment to absorb that. Although we're told every day that the crisis arose from failures in the free markets--that it represents a crisis of capitalism itself--an eminent economist has now stepped forward to say, in effect, Nonsense. The markets didn't fail, Taylor argues, the government did. --Peter Robinson, What Caused the Crisis? Forbes.com
If Milton Friedman and I had written as persuasive an analysis as this, one year°™rather than 30 years°™after the Great Depression began, the United States might have had a typical recession rather than the greatest downturn in history. --Anna Schwartz, author, with Milton Friedman, of The Great Contraction, 1929®C1933
This short volume does a masterful job of tracking the stunning financial market and macroeconomic events of 2007 and 2008, and it provides an organizing framework that will enable the specialist and novice alike to examine these events in a coherent setting. --James Poterba, Mitsui Professor of Economics at MIT and President and CEO of the National Bureau of Economic Research
- posted on 03/11/2009
The Blue Sweater: Bridging the Gap Between Rich and Poor in an Interconnected World (Hardcover)
by Jacqueline Novogratz (Author)
"This is a wonderful book by a remarkable woman. It's a story about doing enormous good while having some extraordinary experiences and even adventures. It touches the heart and the mind. I recommend it to anyone who wants to learn about what's really going on in the world out there."--Fareed Zakaria, Author of The Post-American World and editor of Newsweek International
"The decency of Jacqueline Novogratz shines through these pages and so does her strength. The stories she shares about the people she has met show the nobility of the human spirit and the breadth of the desire to stop suffering, to feed the hungry, to care for the sick, to empower the poor - in short, to make the world a better place. The Blue Sweater is a book of hope written by a practical idealist who won't take "no" for an answer when it comes to building a better world. Jacqueline breathes new life into the phrase "a life of meaning" and she is living one everyday even as she asks us to join her." --Senator Bill Bradley
"The Blue Sweater will inspire people around the world by seeing the difference one person can make in taking on challenges with courage, curiosity, drive and a great sense of possibility. It is a story for all of us, regardless of the country in which we were born." --Mary Robinson, Chair of Realizing Rights: The Ethical Globalization Initiative
"Jacqueline's book and her work represent an entirely new way to look at things, a vivid opportunity for change and most of all, an obligation to spread the word about the way the world has evolved. We need to wake up and listen to what she has to say. Hurry!" --Seth Godin, author of Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us and Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable "Jacqueline is a national treasure. Her pioneering work at Acumen Fund is positively influencing a whole generation of donors and recipients." --Seth Berkley, President and founder of the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative "A captivating first-person account of a young woman's quest to close the gap between rich and poor. If one person can change the world, this is your window into how it's done." --Chee Pearlman, former Editor in Chief, I.D. Magazine "If you believe in the worth and capacity of individual initiative and in group commitment, or if you believe that our lives can be transformed by the events we live through, then you must read this book." --Daniel Toole, UNICEF Regional Director for South Asia
- posted on 03/11/2009
Bad Samaritans: The Myth of Free Trade and the Secret History of Capitalism (Paperback)
by Ha-Joon Chang (Author)
From Publishers Weekly
Chang's detailed, thorough book puts another theoretical nail in the coffin of free trade and unbridled capitalism. Chang illustrates a vast array of contradictions and hypocrisies spouted by the neoliberal agenda (sometimes known as neo-conservative in the U.S.) to completely deregulate developing governments. Looking at the history of capitalism, he reveals how often free trade has failed where protectionism has benefited many of the richer countries today including the U.S. and U.K. Bond, who has his work cut out for him with Chang's long, technical and fact-laden work, does a good job of emphasis and pacing. But staying atop the tidal wave of information and complex connections in Chang's writing may require listening to the audiobook in small chunks or listening to some sections more than once. Bond's smooth but stern delivery proves a useful companion. Simultaneous release with the Bloomsbury hardcover (Reviews, Nov. 12).
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
From The Washington Post
Reviewed by Paul Blustein
Bookstore shelves are loaded with offerings by economists and commentators seeking to explain, in accessible prose, why free-trade-style globalization is desirable and even indispensable for countries the world over. Now comes the best riposte from the critics that I have seen. Readers who are leery of open-market orthodoxy will rejoice at the cogency of Bad Samaritans. Ha-Joon Chang has the credentials -- he's on the economics faculty at Cambridge University -- and the storytelling skill to make a well-informed, engaging case against the dogma propagated by globalization's cheerleaders. Believers in free trade will find that the book forces them to recalibrate and maybe even backpedal a bit.
I doubt, however, that the book will win many converts -- and it shouldn't. That's because Chang goes way overboard in advancing his central argument, which is that poor countries can get rich only by doing pretty much the exact opposite of what they are told by the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organization -- the "bad" Samaritans to which the title refers.
Chang's model for development is one he grew up in, the South Korean miracle of the 1960s, '70s and '80s. He describes in evocative terms the poverty of his parents' generation, the deprivations of his boyhood (no flush toilet in the family home, for example, even though his father was an elite civil servant) and the high-tech luxuries that today's Koreans take for granted.
In the process of achieving this breathtakingly rapid improvement in living standards, he notes, South Korea departed dramatically from free-market principles. The country set up high barriers to protect its fledgling industries, such as steel and autos, and offered subsidies to help promising firms flourish. Other Asian countries, notably Japan and Taiwan, developed in similar ways.
The dirty secret of capitalism, as Chang explains, is that much the same is true of the modern industrial economies of the West, including Britain and the United States. Although advocates of free trade typically extol the British as the pioneers of open markets, London lowered tariffs in the mid-19th century only after its industries had firmly established their lead over rivals. Likewise, U.S. tariffs remained high throughout America's industrialization. So why, Chang asks, should today's poor nations be required to develop differently?
Chang acknowledges that "the mere co-existence of protectionism and economic development does not prove that the former caused the latter." But, he asserts, "Free trade economists have to explain how free trade can be an explanation for the economic success of today's rich countries, when it simply had not been practiced very much before they became rich." A fair point, and Chang scores some more when he recounts the widespread unemployment and subpar growth that occurred in countries such as Mexico and Ivory Coast after their governments, under pressure from the "bad Samaritans," lowered barriers that were sheltering their industries.
But were the Samaritans "bad" to prescribe such policies? Consider Zambia, a country I visited recently, which followed World Bank advice in the 1990s to open its markets to foreign clothing. Unfortunately, the local industry was woefully uncompetitive, having survived in a protected market by selling shoddy, expensive apparel to the local population and showing no sign of success at exporting. So it quickly collapsed amid a flood of imports, resulting in 10,000 lost jobs. Sad as that was for the workers, millions of Zambians can now afford decent clothing (much of which is used and has been donated by Americans to various organizations, shipped to Africa in bulk and sold cheaply by street vendors). That's probably a very good trade-off for the poor. Did it help put Zambia on the path to prosperity? No, and for that the World Bank should be embarrassed -- for being overoptimistic Samaritans, not bad ones.
Chang counters that short-term benefits such as cheaper clothing should be sacrificed for the sake of long-term development. That means nurturing manufacturers with long periods of protection and subsidies, like the 30 years Toyota got in Japan. He insists that this approach can work even in destitute countries. "A backyard motor repair shop in [Mozambique's capital] Maputo simply cannot produce a Beetle, even if Volkswagen were to give it all the necessary drawings and instruction manuals," he writes. "But this does not mean that Mozambicans should not produce something like a Beetle -- one day. . . . After all, a backyard auto repair shop is exactly how the famous Korean car maker, Hyundai, started in the 1940s."
Lamentably, the book gives short shrift to the debacles that show the pitfalls of industrial planning. India's experience in the 1950s and '60s was a revealing example; its poor are still paying a dreadful price for the government's excessive investment in steel plants, fancy hospitals and universities instead of elementary schools and small clinics. Chang also glosses over the objection that industrial planning is doomed to fail in countries lacking the strengths that Japan, Korea and Taiwan had -- well-educated populations and talented, mostly incorruptible civil servants.
Ironically, in an incisive chapter on privatization, he cites the poor training and low ethical standards among government officials in many developing countries as a good reason to avoid selling off state enterprises that will require effective regulation. "Privatization sometimes works well, but can be a recipe for disaster, especially in developing countries that lack the necessary regulatory capabilities," he writes. Well, if such governments can't regulate properly, how can they successfully oversee the creation of world-class auto industries?
Chang's book deserves a wide readership for illuminating the need for humility about the virtues of private markets and free trade, especially in the developing world. But heaven help Mozambique if the book is taken too seriously in Maputo.
(c) 2010 Maya Chilam Foundation