I don't typically read books about economics; it's not a subject that usually keeps my attention. However, the subtitle to this book, "How Mainstream Economists Have Damaged America and the World" did pique my interest. I'm very glad it did. No matter what "kind" of reader you are, you're still a human in this world and this book speaks to an economy that is affecting us all--we can all benefit from the knowledge inside it. My review of Seven Bad Ideas first appeared in Shelf Awareness for Readers. It is appearing here on my non-crime Monday with their permission.
First line: "Economists' most fundamental ideas contributed centrally to the financial crisis of 2008 and the Great Recession that followed--the worst economic calamity since the Great Depression."
In the introduction to his new book, Jeff Madrick (Age of Greed) says that economists could benefit from advice Henry James once gave his students: “Any point of view is interesting that is a direct impression of life. You should consider life directly and closely.” Madrick’s stance is that mainstream economists rely too heavily on theory that doesn’t hold up in practice. To illustrate and support his stance, he explains seven economic ideas that have driven policy since the 1970s and offers evidence of how they have failed not only the American people but the entire world. And if politicians continue to follow these ideas they could hold the United States back for decades.
Throughout the country, most colleges teach the same conservative economic ideas, passing their theories along to the future economists, and almost none includes a course on the history of their ideas. Madrick says, “history is rarely a cherished discipline among economists, and case studies are too often neglected.” So Madrick uses case studies and data to show government’s leading role in innovation, results of deregulation, flaws in low inflation and austerity economics, as well as the need for community-mindedness in a successful economy.
Readers don’t need to be finance specialists to understand Seven Bad Ideas. Economic jargon, when used, is clearly explained and Madrick often offers vivid analogies to make the concepts even more accessible. In addition, Madrick serves up more than blunt criticism; he offers alternative ideas. The eighth bad idea would be missing this book.
Seven Bad Ideas is available in hardcover (ISBN: 9780307961181) from Alfred A. Knopf. There is also an unabridged audiobook version, narrated by Adam Grupper, available from Recorded Books.