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This remarkably comprehensive book compares the 30-year Keynesian era following WW2, during which there were controls on speculative capital and globalization, with the era of financial deregulation that began in the 1970s, accelerated under Reagan and Thatcher, and resulted in a race to the bottom on taxes, welfare provisions and labour costs. In advanced economies Gini coefficients have increased as the rich have become richer. The disaffection of blue-collar workers has resulted in populism, the arrival of leaders such as Trump, changes such as Brexit. There has been (in stark contrast, for example, to the Marshall Plan or the massive national debt of Germany being written off after the WW2) the appalling treatment of countries like Greece. The challenge has become to re-harness capitalism to serve equality and democracy. Corporate power dominates states and politicians. Money has become too easily hidden in tax havens and shell companies. The author cites countless examples to illustrate his arguments. In one example, highly-taxed Scandinavian countries managed at first to hold out against global pressures. Unions there worked better with employers to avoid the gig economy and unemployment with systems of ‘flexicurity’ that gave employers labour flexibility at the same time as providing blue-collar workers with protection and retraining opportunities. Despite all, the author ends optimistically, prescribing a progressive populism, and measures that would be required to put an end to the slide. This is a very worthwhile read.
I found this book filled with fact and opinion and not a totally easy read, yet I think it is one of the more important books of the last 10 years on the connection between politics and global capitalism. Kuttner presents an unabashed progressive viewpoint of economic history over the last century, so do not expect to see unfettered free market viewpoints defended or even presented in this book. One can pick at some things in the book. Unions by and large get a pass by Kuttner, who (with the exception of a couple of paragraphs) ignores the corruption in U.S. unions that helped corporate interests marshal support from the general public in severely reducing the power of unions in the mid to late 20th century. Another thing I found frustrating were his solutions going forward for righting the wrongs of global capitalism. General statements like “managed capitalism” or touting his admiration for Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren left me wanting more details. How exactly do we embrace global trade without resorting to Trump-style trade barriers and their ensuing trade wars? We need things like the EU to avoid European wars. He needs a sequel to this book to expand on his recommended solutions. This book certainly convinced me of how we got here. It’s a book everyone who has an interest in global politics and 20th century history should read while taking notes. Memories are short in this country, and there are past events we definitely do not want to repeat!
I've read dozens of books that have tried to explain the mess we are in as tax-paying citizens and normal folks who just want a fair shake at a decent living and a chance for our kids to have a better future, and this book by Robert Kuttner is one of the very best. Clear and precise, he lays out the details on where we were as a nation in the twentieth century when socio-economic policies were directed toward the good of the stakeholders (including regular people like you and me) within the economy and how, over the next several decades, large financial, private interests and corporations shed their commitments for the greater good in search of the one thing that only mattered to them: money and profits. And, in turn, their moral corruption in favor of capturing as much money as possible has effectively hollowed out the core of our country and beyond. The American Dream has been thwarted but Mr. Kuttner offers ideas on how to bring it back. A very worthwhile read for anyone interested in understanding how we got here and why.
A brilliant explanation of how we got into an era of increased concentration of wealth and power which benefits the top 1% at the expense of the middle class. How the multinational corporations have been able to avoid paying taxes. Unfortunately, his solutions are more ideological than realizable, at least in our lifetime. Simply written. It is essential reading for someone who is not a PhD economist if they are to understand why our economy is so fragile and why we are likely to repeat the crisis of 2008.
The author talks about the more important changes and differences in economics. The job policies have had some shifts ,which have been also hard, but they so have produced flexibility. Therefore the free market is still granted, but we must consider also factors related with the Keynes theories. All that must also follow certain financial solutions. The possibility of an equilibrium exists, but only we prefer the corporate action than the game theory.
This is an excellent book to help understand where we are, how we got here, and what is to be done. Kuttner is a clear and concise writer. He also gives enough background, history, context, and sources to make an impact and work from credibility. I am very impressed with this book - the first of his I have read.