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The Economists' Hour
Cover of The Economists' Hour
The Economists' Hour
False Prophets, Free Markets, and the Fracture of Society
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A Wall Street Journal Business Bestseller In this "lively and entertaining" (Liaquat Ahamed, The New Yorker) history of ideas, New York Times editorial writer Binyamin Appelbaum tells the story of the people who sparked four decades of economic revolution.Before the 1960s, American politicians had never paid much attention to economists. But as the post-World War II boom began to sputter, economists gained influence and power.In The Economists' Hour, Binyamin Appelbaum traces the rise of the economists, first in the United States and then around the globe, as their ideas reshaped the modern world, curbing government, unleashing corporations and hastening globalization.Some leading figures are relatively well-known, such as Milton Friedman, the elfin libertarian who had a greater influence on American life than any other economist of his generation, and Arthur Laffer, who sketched a curve on a cocktail napkin that helped to make tax cuts a staple of conservative economic policy.Others stayed out of the limelight, but left a lasting impact on modern life: Walter Oi, a blind economist who dictated to his wife and assistants some of the calculations that persuaded President Nixon to end military conscription; Alfred Kahn, who deregulated air travel and rejoiced in the crowded cabins on commercial flights as the proof of his success; and Thomas Schelling, who put a dollar value on human life.Their fundamental belief? That government should stop trying to manage the economy.Their guiding principle? That markets would deliver steady growth, and ensure that all Americans shared in the benefits. But the Economists' Hour failed to deliver on its promise of broad prosperity. And the single-minded embrace of markets has come at the expense of economic equality, the health of liberal democracy, and future generations.Timely, engaging and expertly researched, The Economists' Hour is a reckoning-and a call for people to rewrite the rules of the market.
A Wall Street Journal Business Bestseller In this "lively and entertaining" (Liaquat Ahamed, The New Yorker) history of ideas, New York Times editorial writer Binyamin Appelbaum tells the story of the people who sparked four decades of economic revolution.Before the 1960s, American politicians had never paid much attention to economists. But as the post-World War II boom began to sputter, economists gained influence and power.In The Economists' Hour, Binyamin Appelbaum traces the rise of the economists, first in the United States and then around the globe, as their ideas reshaped the modern world, curbing government, unleashing corporations and hastening globalization.Some leading figures are relatively well-known, such as Milton Friedman, the elfin libertarian who had a greater influence on American life than any other economist of his generation, and Arthur Laffer, who sketched a curve on a cocktail napkin that helped to make tax cuts a staple of conservative economic policy.Others stayed out of the limelight, but left a lasting impact on modern life: Walter Oi, a blind economist who dictated to his wife and assistants some of the calculations that persuaded President Nixon to end military conscription; Alfred Kahn, who deregulated air travel and rejoiced in the crowded cabins on commercial flights as the proof of his success; and Thomas Schelling, who put a dollar value on human life.Their fundamental belief? That government should stop trying to manage the economy.Their guiding principle? That markets would deliver steady growth, and ensure that all Americans shared in the benefits. But the Economists' Hour failed to deliver on its promise of broad prosperity. And the single-minded embrace of markets has come at the expense of economic equality, the health of liberal democracy, and future generations.Timely, engaging and expertly researched, The Economists' Hour is a reckoning-and a call for people to rewrite the rules of the market.
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About the Author-
  • Binyamin Appelbaum is a Washington correspondent for the New York Times whose reporting on subprime lending won a George Polk Award and was a finalist for the 2008 Pulitzer Prize.

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from July 29, 2019
    New York Times correspondent Appelbaum, who won a George Polk Award for his subprime lending reporting, intelligently chronicles the unprecedented influence of economists on public policy during what he dubs “the economists’ hour,” roughly from 1969 to 2008. He recounts how economists in the U.S. rose from laboring in obscurity in Quonset huts on the National Mall to occupying such lofty roles as secretary of the treasury and chair of the Federal Reserve. Appelbaum is sharply skeptical of the reputed alchemical powers of economists to engineer prosperity, particularly those (Milton Friedman, Alan Greenspan) whose blind adherence to free market principles, he argues, fostered the Great Recession and significant income inequality. He notes that countries that consulted economic theory, but then accorded management of the economy to engineers (as in Taiwan) or the state (as with China) have performed better economically than the U.S. with its policy of minimal government intervention in markets. He also examines the deleterious effects of the unfettered free market philosophy upon health and safety regulations, regulation of industries, and antitrust litigation, concluding that blind reliance on free markets has led to an ossifying plutocratic minority. This thoroughly researched, comprehensive, and critical account of the economic philosophies that have reigned for the past half century powerfully indicts them.

  • AudioFile Magazine The influence of economists has increased steadily over the last 50 years, and the author, ably aided by narrator Dan Bittner, provides a lively history of how their policies have brought enormous wealth--to the few. In a chronological approach, the audiobook demonstrates that cycles of deregulation and lower taxes routinely led to massive business defaults and market plunges. Bittner is adept at conveying the author's outrage and, often, his biting humor: Two politicians who went into private banking immediately after backing deregulation were "fortunate that espousing the prevailing ideology would be an express lane to personal enrichment." Bittner's voice is modulated so that the complex theories of influential players like Milton Friedman, Arthur Laffer, and Larry Summers seem digestible, even if their arrogance is not. L.W.S. � AudioFile 2019, Portland, Maine
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The Economists' Hour
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False Prophets, Free Markets, and the Fracture of Society
Binyamin Appelbaum
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