The Cost of Capitalism: Understanding Market Mayhem and Stabilizing our Economic Future

The Cost of Capitalism: Understanding Market Mayhem and Stabilizing our Economic Future

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by Robert Barbera
     
 

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A Street economist's strategy for managing market madness

“A punchy and relevant book on our present distress that has, at its core, one very big and useful idea.“

Portfolio

“Heeding the lessons of the last few years, as documented in this book, may help both financiers and government policy makers find ways to reduce some future

Overview

A Street economist's strategy for managing market madness

“A punchy and relevant book on our present distress that has, at its core, one very big and useful idea.“

Portfolio

“Heeding the lessons of the last few years, as documented in this book, may help both financiers and government policy makers find ways to reduce some future costs of capitalism without sacrificing all the potential rewards.”

The New York Times

“[Barbera] challenges the blind faith in free markets.”

The Economist

“Barbera ... [is] one of the few commentators actually saying something interesting and innovative about the crisis.”

Asia Times

"The Cost of Capitalism is a must-read and a thoroughly enjoyable one—for those who want to understand the Crisis of 2008 and hammer out a new framework for decision making."

Jared L. Cohon, President, Carnegie Mellon University

"Readers who absorb the lessons of this book will be armed with more than mere technique; they will acquire an attitude that will make them better investors for the rest of their lives."

Paul DeRosa, Principal, Mt. Lucas Management Corp.

"The Cost of Capitalism translates the economic diagnoses and theories of my father, Hyman Minsky.
It captures the vivacity of a post dinner conversation not coincidentally my father's favorite forum for elaborating, educating, and entertaining."

Diana Minsky, Art Historian, Bard College

"Lucid, intriguing, brilliant! Barbera combines the uncertainty and speculation of Keynes with Schumpeter's "Creative Destruction" and Hy Minsky's "Deflationary Destruction" into a tasty stew."

James R. Schlesinger, former Director, Central Intelligence Agency

"Long ago, Bob taught me that if you don't know Minsky, you don't know nothing. This work shows the path out of nothingness."

Paul A. McCulley, Chief Investment Officer, Pacific Investment Management Company

"Barbera's recommendations are profound in their simplicity. Let us hope Wall Street, Main Street, Washington, and academia embrace them."

Jack Rivkin, former Chief Investment Officer, Neuberger Berman

"This is truly an extraordinary book that should be of great interest to an extremely wide audience from Wall Street practitioners to economics and finance scholars."

Louis Maccini, Professor of Economics, Johns Hopkins University

From the panic of 1987 to the tech-bubble burst of 2000, the past two decades have witnessed a series of financial crises, each more disruptive than the last. Unfortunately, they all seem like dress rehearsal for today's debacle.

In hindsight, the precipitating factors responsible for each crisis seem clear, yet, in every case, mainstream economists and policy makers were caught off guard.

Why didn't they see it coming? What should they have known but didn't? And, most critically, how must they adjust their thinking going forward?

In the Cost of Capitalism, Robert Barbera provides compelling answers to all these questions. In the process, he offers the most cogent analysis yet of today's crisis and explains how to manage the ever present potential for mayhem intrinsic to free market economies without stunting innovation and growth.

At the core of Barbera's thinking are three assumptions: first, boom and bust cycles have been stoked since 1985 by finance, not inflation; second, Main Street stability paradoxically invites excessive risk taking on Wall Street; and last, these things set the stage for small setbacks to deliver cataclysmic consequences.

Barbera applauds current efforts to unabashedly infuse public money into the global economy. It's the only way, he says, to prevent another Great Depression. And, looking beyond the crisis of the moment, Barbera contends that mainstream thinkers need to form a new economic paradigm by embracing the insights of free market champions like Joseph Schumpeter and the cautionary wisdom of Hyman Minsky.

Financial market mayhem comes with the territory in a free market system. Nonetheless, innovators and their bankers still offer the world the best chance for a prosperous twenty-first century. Economists, policymakers, and investors must begin to redefine their understanding of free market capitalism. The Cost of Capitalism will set them on that course.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780071628440
Publisher:
McGraw-Hill Professional Publishing
Publication date:
02/13/2009
Pages:
240
Product dimensions:
6.32(w) x 9.24(h) x 1.00(d)

What People are saying about this

The Cost of Capitalism is a must-read and a thoroughly enjoyable one -- for those who want to understand the Crisis of 2008 and hammer out a new framework for decision making. --Jared L. Cohon, President, Carnegie Mellon University

Readers who absorb the lessons of this book will be armed with more than mere technique; they will acquire an attitude that will make them better investors for the rest of their lives. --Paul DeRosa, Principal, Mt. Lucas Management Corp.

The Cost of Capitalism translates the economic diagnoses and theories of my father, Hyman Minsky. It captures the vivacity of a post-dinner conversation -- not coincidentally, my father's favorite forum for elaborating, educating, and entertaining. --Diana Minsky, Art Historian, Bard College

Lucid, intriguing, brilliant! Barbera combines the uncertainty and speculation of Keynes with Schumpeter's Creative Destruction and Hy Minsky's Deflationary Destruction into a tasty stew. --James R. Schlesinger, former Director, Central Intelligence Agency

Long ago, Bob taught me that if you don't know Minsky, you don't know nothing. This work shows the path out of nothingness. --Paul A. McCulley, Chief Investment Officer, Pacific Investment Management Company

Barbera's recommendations are profound in their simplicity. Let us hope Wall Street, Main Street, Washington, and academia embrace them. --Jack Rivkin, former Chief Investment Officer, Neuberger Berman

This is truly an extraordinary book that should be of great interest to an extremely wide audience from Wall Street practitioners to economics and finance scholars. --Louis Maccini, Professor of Economics, Johns Hopkins University

Meet the Author

Robert J. Barbera, Ph.D., is executive vice president and chief economist at ITG and an Economics Department Fellow at Johns
Hopkins University. He has been a noted
Wall Street economist for over 25 years.
Before arriving on Wall Street, Barbera was a staff economist for Senator Paul Tsongas and an economist for the Congressional
Budget Offi ce.

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The Cost of Capitalism: Understanding Market Mayhem and Stabilizing our Economic Future 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Seghetto More than 1 year ago
I personally met the author at a lecture. The book was an entertaining read. The analogies that the author used were very illustrative. He does not agree strictly with Minsky's work, but Minsky does have a place in informing macroeconomics today.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
ROPalmer More than 1 year ago
Wouldn't you love to read a concise, entertaining explanation of the recent financial melt-down? Robert J. Barbera has written just such a book, an economic seminar that everyone will "get." Finance usually comes across as Dull (that's dull with a capital D), but The Cost of Capitalism is not boring. For example, Barbera uses hypothetical home-buying twins, Hanna and Hal, to explain why the mortgage bubble burst after a relatively small drop in property values and how the resulting pop disabled the banking industry-the case of "a small set back delivering cataclysmic consequences." Barbera believes that capitalism is the best economic system (no surprise there, he makes his living analyzing capitalism). He is also a disciple of Hyman Minsky. If you don't know who Minsky is, that's fine, because the book does a masterful job of placing Minsky in today's context, which lays the groundwork for a major theme of The Cost of Capitalism: Central financial planners must admit that players in the free market (from Main Street to Wall Street) make decisions based more on human nature than rational theory. The resulting behavior leads to booms and busts. The busts require government intervention-the cost of capitalism. The book uses historical analysis to focus on cause-and-effect relationships that have somehow been missed by the Federal Reserve. Barbera writes, "From 1945 to 1985 there was no recession caused by the instability of investment prompted by financial speculation-and since 1985 there has been no recession that has not been caused by these factors." Yet, as Barbera shows, the Fed behaved as if inflation were the economy's only enemy. He argues persuasively that American capitalism needs "a new paradigm," one that recognizes the wisdom of Minsky and extracts our proverbial head from the sand. The Cost of Capitalism is full of instructive charts and graphs, which simplify complex ideas as well as providing welcome visual breaks between analytical prose. My only complaint (any reviewer worth his/her salt has to have at least one) is that the notes and abbreviations with the graphs could have been better defined. (R.O. Palmer is the author of three novels, including his newest release, Darress Theatre)