What’s up with the U.S. economy? What some call the biggest shift in U.S. history of national wealth to the already wealthy, others describe as a federal budget deficit caused by government spending. Who’s right and who’s crazy? What actually happened recently in our economy and why? Who gains and who loses in this financial climate? Who and what is responsible for the crisis? Where are the problem areas and have we fixed them yet? What is the prognosis for our future? How do you find information you can trust? Book Buzz this week suggests some reading on the financial crisis in America written by some of the country’s foremost economists, financial or political analysts. Check it out for yourself at your local library.
13 Bankers: The Wall Street Takeover and the Next Financial Meltdown
By Simon Johnson
The author, a prominent U.S. economist, observes that even after the ruinous financial crisis of 2008 America is still beset by the depredations of an oligarchy that is even bigger, and more resistant to regulation than ever. Anchored by six megabanks: Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs, and Morgan Stanley, the group controls assets amounting to more than 60 percent of the country’s gross domestic product. “Too big to fail,” they continue to hold the global economy hostage, running up profit in good years and dumping their losses on taxpayers in lean years. Johnson proposes a strategy to reconfigure megabanks to be “small enough to fail.” See also The Return of Depression Economics and the Crisis of 2008 by Paul Krugman, winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics or Outsourcing America: What’s behind our National Crisis and How We Can Reclaim American Jobs by Ron and Anil Hira.
Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future
By Bill McKibben
McKibben asks and suggests answers to the central human question: What is the economy FOR? Using examples of alternative approaches he examines the cult of growth and globalization and the need to create depth of economy built to the human scale through local interdependence and sustainable use of resources. This book will fill you with hope and a sense of fresh possibility. See also The Case for the Living Wage by Jerold L. Waltman or Agenda for a New Economy: From Phantom Wealth to Real Wealth by David C. Korten in which the great economic thinker delivers an economic blueprint for the 21st Century. He identifies sources of our economic failure and measures needed to turn it around. The answers lie not with Wall Street, he proposes, but with Main Street supporting an economy that is locally based, community oriented, and devoted to creating a better life for all, not simply increasing profits for some. Or look for A Power Governments Cannot Suppress by Howard Zinn for essays on America’s history and future, and on citizens who make a difference, and faith that citizens have what it takes to confront power and reverse dangerous and unjust acts of our government.
Selling Out a Superpower: Where the US Economy Went Wrong and How We Can Turn It Around
By Ronald R. Pollina
In 1968 there were sixty-two lobbyists in Washington; as of 2010 there are thirty-four thousand. Few, if any, of them represent the majority of Americans in the middle class. In this comprehensive diagnosis, Pollina faults inept government management of business and the economy by state and federal officials of both political parties, with the assistance of lobbyists representing special interest groups for betraying the American middle and lower classes by enacting laws and policies over the last 20 years that have driven jobs and whole industries offshore, never to return. Also look for Superclass: The Global Power Elite and the World They are Making by David Rothkopf, or The Squandering of America: How the Failure of Our Politics Undermines Our Prosperity (2007) by Robert Kuttner, one of the several prophets of the 2008 economic collapse. Kuttner subsequently published Obama’s Challenge : America’s Economic Crisis and the Power of a Transformative Presidency which proposes actions to avoid continued squandering.
Strapped: Why America’s 20- and 30-Somethings Can’t Get Ahead
By Tamara Draut
Drowning in student loan and credit card debt, can’t afford to get married, buy a home or have children, this is a book for the under-35 generation that explains why it many not be their fault. In her meticulously researched book the author explains why the transition to adulthood has become almost impossibly difficult for the children of low and middle income families. She analyzes what has gone wrong and ways to make it better. See also Nickled and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America by Barbara Ehrenreich, or Screwed: The Undeclared War Against the Middle Class and What We Can Do about It by Thom Hartmann. You may also be interested in The Measure of America: American Human Development Report 2008-2009 by Sarah Burd-Sharps. This book introduces the American Human Development Index, a single measure of well-being for all Americans. It reveals disparities in the health, education and living standards of different groups. The report will become the basis for discussions on achieving fair, just and globally competitive American society.
• Carolyn Larson, head librarian at Lihu‘e Public Library, brings you the buzz on new, popular and good books available at your neighborhood library. Book annotations are culled from online publishers’ descriptions and published reviews.