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Aftershock: The Next Economy and…

Aftershock: The Next Economy and America's Future (Vintage) (alkuperäinen julkaisuvuosi 2010; vuoden 2011 painos)

– tekijä: Robert B. Reich

JäseniäKirja-arvostelujaSuosituimmuussijaKeskimääräinen arvioMaininnat
4262145,000 (4.01)16
Celebrated economic policy maker and political theorist Robert B. Reich argues that the nation's 2008 economic collapse is the result of an increasing concentration of income and wealth at the top--and a middle class that had to go deeply into debt to maintain a decent standard of living. To ensure that prosperity is widely shared, he continues, requires the implementation of a much broader safety net for the middle class financed by higher marginal tax rates on the very wealthy.… (lisätietoja)
Teoksen nimi:Aftershock: The Next Economy and America's Future (Vintage)
Kirjailijat:Robert B. Reich
Info:Vintage (2011), Edition: First Paperback Edition, Paperback, 192 pages
Kokoelmat:Oma kirjasto
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Aftershock (tekijä: Robert B. Reich (Author)) (2010)


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After-Shock, The Next Economy and America’s Future, by Robert Reich (pp 146). This is, I believe, the only book I’ve read on economics, but Reich’s economics-for-idiots style made this a good place to start. He is the former Labor Secretary under Bill Clinton and is currently a professor at U of California at Berkeley. Much of the book is his take on the Great Recession of 2008, its causes, comparisons of economic conditions in other periods of the modern U.S. economy, and—as the subtitle states—ways the government can tackle what he sees as flaws in the U.S. economy, including a number of specific new policies. As you can guess, his findings and suggested solutions are likely to be attractive to the left and heretical to the right. I believe his basic premise is that we are in an economic fix in large part because of the widening gap between top earners and the middle & lower classes (meaning you and me). The current gap, arguably an abyss, mirrors similar statistics prior to the Great Depression. As wages have stagnated—-a decades long trend—the middle class no longer consumes at previous rates despite aggressive and arguably unhealthy borrowing. One significant impact of less buying power of the vast majority of Americans means they can buy only a fraction of this nation’s capacity to produce. That means they (we) are no longer capable of sustaining economic growth; our buying is no longer pumping the economy like it did when wages were higher and growing. One result of the concentration of money in the megarich is reduced domestic spending because the wealthy buy far less as a percentage of earnings than the rest of us. The middle class spend most of what we earn out of necessity, so if our share of the economy is smaller (and it is now much smaller), and we can pump far fewer dollars into that same economy. No surprise, Reich takes great exception to the conditions that led to the most recent and catastrophic recession, including a largely unregulated Wall Street and the concentration of banking in institutions. Why does that matter? Because when those banks and investors that are too big to fail crash, they are bailed out by the taxpayers (increasingly the lower wage masses), which means the wealthy are insulated from the negative impact of their own failures and the people least able to afford it bear the burden. (This is my unsophisticated takeaway.) The solutions Reich offers are ways to restore balance in the economy and to narrow, not close, the gap. You can read the book for those proposed solutions that go beyond higher tax rates for big business that has thrived while wage earners suffer.

This was a surprisingly interesting book, though I had to take it slowly to keep from frying my brain. ( )
  wildh2o | Jul 10, 2021 |
This starts off as a fantastic read and is so useful for just the first 30 pages or so that highlight the similarities between the Great Recession of today and the Great Depression. The historical data pre-Depression through today makes this book worth purchashing, reading and keeping on your shelf. It's a good policy wonk book too. Reich nails it on the head by noting like many others before him that even uber-capitalist Henry Ford understood that to stay in business and grow, your employees were also your customers. If you don't pay them enough, they can't buy your products, and then you limit your ability to grow and keep succeeding in business.

Reich also notes the rise of the extreme right that's willing to blame anyone who a populist talking head or politician targets for why their lives aren't as good as they used to be. He could delve into it better, touching on the sexist, racism, isolationism and religious bigotry that floods the airwaves and internet every second.

While this is a great book, I have some criticisms. He probably would have addressed if this was a longer book, but since he didn't, this book can't be a blueprint but more of an extended soundbite with good historical analysis. Reich keeps the focus on the need for Americans to be able to afford schooling. Sadly, he pushes the meme that vouchers are the answer, undermining a public school system that flourished and helped create & sustain the Great Prosperity. He also thinks that a college degree will guarantee a better life. In the past, this was true, but the largest growth sector for Americans who cannot travel abroad is in the service industry. You don't need a degree for that. However, in an interesting vein, he also suggests that student loan payoffs be linked to subsequent earnings, so that high earners pay more while those contributing to the social good pay less. I like that idea.

Another question that I have, and to which I don't have a perfect answer to yet, is the focus by Reich, and capitalist economists in general, is that more and more consumption is good for the economy. We need to consume, but always buying more and more sounds like it'll end in the same problem again, i.e. even with better wages and good social safety net, if you always increase your consumption, you'll eventually have to borrow to pay for it.

One thing that really stands out is his lack of addressing gender and race, especially when he talks about the Great Prosperity from the end of World War II until the 1970s. It's almost "Leave it to Beaver" again, in that racism and sexism are barely, if ever, touched upon by the book. Thus, a return to fiscal poilcy of the past MUST take into account the impact of including those who were excluded the last time around. Noticably, Reich also glosses over class issues in the US, except to talk about the middle class and the top 400-500 earners in the economy. Class is important in America and ignoring it simply delays dealing with the problem.

One last thought is with respect to his ideas on campaign finance reform. He suggests a blind trust be established so that politicians won't know from whom a contribution comes from. The idea is that this would negate the "pay to play" system currently in place. While this sounds good on the surface, it lacks depth. E.g., the pool of people who could contribute large amounts to political parties (be they real people or Citizens United corporations), is very small. The identity of those contributors would hardly be difficult to determine.

After all that, I'd like to still say this is an important book to read. It's starts the discussion. And, unlike so many tomes, it provides solid historical financial data to back up some of its points. The key take away is that "An economy where the middle class lacks the means to buy what it produces" cannot succeed in the long run. ( )
  drew_asson | Dec 3, 2020 |
Readers can tell that Robert Reich is a college teacher; it shows in this book. He is very good at explaining exactly what happened to the economy in this current climate and why it happened. More importantly, he outlines very well what will happen unless this nation and its people decide on some serious, substantial, meaningful changes. And yet, this is a short book, which makes it pretty easy to read. What I found fascinating is that what is happening is not really new for one. We faced a lot of this during the Great Depression. In some ways, the situation is the same, but the names and players have changed, so to speak.

The problem is not one of Americans simply having spent past their means, which they did. This is not to be denied. The real problem is their wages have not kept up with the times, and employers and the wealthy have broken the social contract where we all pay fairly and gain benefit from shared prosperity. When you have billionaires like Warren Buffet actually saying that he should be taxed a lot more, that is a hint of Professor Reich's argument. I found myself making a lot of little notes, which you can see in my reading updates for this book for the book offers some good points and a lot to think about. The potential scenario of an "Independence Party" candidate winning the White House along with Congress should scare the daylights out of people not matter what side of the political spectrum you are in. And yet, we get a very good explanation of how it will happen if things keep going at the same pace as well as how to avoid, which is the option that will take work. Many passages in this book caught my eye, but I think the one I want to share with readers right away is this one:

On page 145: "If nothing is done to counter present trends, the major fault line in American politics will no longer be between Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives. It will be between the 'establishment'--political insiders, power brokers, the heads of American business, Wall Street, and the mainstream media--and an increasingly mad-as-hell populace determined to 'take back America' from them."

Now, take a guess who is going to "win" if the current crop of greedy, hate-and-fear mongering powers manage to keep on manipulating the angry and willfully ignorant. It does not look good, and maybe that is why I did not give this book five stars. I don't necessarily share Dr. Reich's optimism at the end of the book. However, overall, this is one book worth reading. ( )
  bloodravenlib | Aug 17, 2020 |
This was an interesting read about economics with some thoughtful insights. It feels a bit dated since its pre-Trump and I think the Trump presidency has... exacerbated some of the problems mentioned in the book, as well as changed a lot of other factors the book discusses with regards to economy.

The economy is certainly not an easy resolve issue. I am not a very smart economical person or political person, as its so multi-faceted that it completely goes above my head. Its hard to believe I'm a banker's son sometimes. I do subscribe to the idea of production over taxes to facilitate growth. Though, I think as automation and computers take over, this might become less and less of a situation, that it might become a by-gone relic. And we'll be relying on so many other factors that production might be the least of the issues.

Just my 2 cents anyway. ( )
  BenKline | Jul 1, 2020 |
Tra i più interessanti saggi di economia degli ultimi anni: un testo che tutti dovrebbero leggere!! ( )
  ginsengman | May 29, 2018 |
Näyttää 1-5 (yhteensä 21) (seuraava | näytä kaikki)
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Im September 2009, am Vorabend eines Treffens der 20 grössten Wirtschaftsnationen der Welt, bekräftigte der amerikanische Finanzminister Timothy Geithner in einer Bewertung der wirtschaftlichen Ereignisse in den USA im Vorfeld der Grossen Rezession die landläufige Auffassung, die Amerikaner hätten "über eine viel zu lange Zeit zu viel gekauft und zu wenig gespart".
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Celebrated economic policy maker and political theorist Robert B. Reich argues that the nation's 2008 economic collapse is the result of an increasing concentration of income and wealth at the top--and a middle class that had to go deeply into debt to maintain a decent standard of living. To ensure that prosperity is widely shared, he continues, requires the implementation of a much broader safety net for the middle class financed by higher marginal tax rates on the very wealthy.

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