The Great Unraveling: Losing Our Way in the New Centuryby Paul Krugman
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This national bestseller from one of our most important political commentators chronicles the dangers of an administration that has raised dishonesty to dizzying heights. Award-winning economist Paul Krugman exposes the devastating facts that speak for themselves. From identifying the flaws in George W. Bush's economic plans to telling the story behind California's energy crisis, to revealing the administration's reasons for going to war in Iraq, Krugman offers compelling justification for his criticisms and sets the first years of the twenty-first century in a stark new light. This up-to-date edition includes a new introduction and other material that reflect the events of 2004.
- Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
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I've tried to make this book more than a chronological sequence of columns. There is, of course, an element of chronology; each column was written on a particular date, and my views on some subjects have evolved, as new facts have come to light. But the columns are grouped according to major themes, and within each theme into "chapters" that focus on a particular subject. I've also added an Introduction that sets the political stage, and further additional material at the beginning of each thematic section, to put the columns into a broader perspective.
The columns begin with the rise and fall of America's stock market bubble, with all that went with it. As the pieces here show, I was always a stock market skepticthough not, as you will see, skeptical enough. My focus on troubled economies abroad prepared me for the possibility that the United States would suffer serious economic difficulties once the bubble burstthough here again I initially understated the risks. What nobody realized was how thoroughly corrupted the U.S. corporate system had become; like everyone else, I played catch-up here.
The book turns next to the federal budget and the fate of Social Security. It's the story of a debt foretold. From the beginning it was obvious to me that George W. Bush's plans didn't add up, that he and his people were simply lying about all the important numbers, and that their plans would dissipate the budget surplus. It has played out just as I feared, but sooner and more forcefully than I expected. As I write these words, the administration has just conceded that the $230 billion surplus it inherited has been converted into a $300 billion deficitand you know that's an underestimate.
How was such a misstep possible? In Part III, I go beyond economics pure and simple, trying to understand what has gone wrong with American politics. It seems to me now that many reasonable people, liberals and conservatives alike, still don't get itas I explain in these columns, the real world of politics is much tougher and uglier than the picture most of us carry in our heads.
The last few years didn't just shake my faith in our political system; they were also a reminder that free markets, while often a very good thing, can sometimes go very badly wrong. Part IV describes some of the shocking failures of the market system in the last few years, from the California energy crisis to the catastrophe in Argentina.
Of course, there's more to the world, even the world of economics, than the ups and downs of the United States. The book concludes with a wider viewa look at the global economy, and at the tools we use to understand it.
This is not, I'm sorry to say, a happy book. It's mainly about economic disappointment, bad leadership, and the lies of the powerful. Don't despair: nothing has gone wrong in America that can't be repaired. But the first step in that repair job is understanding where and how the system got broken.
From The Great Unraveling: Losing Our Way in the New Century
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Paul Krugman is the recipient of the 2008 Nobel Prize in Economics. He is a best-selling author, columnist, and blogger for the New York Times, and is a professor of economics and international affairs at Princeton University.
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