The Great Unraveling: Losing Our Way in the New Centuryby Paul Krugman
"Paul Krugman is a hero of mine. Read his book."Al Franken
No one has more authority to call the shots the way they really are than award-winning economist Paul Krugman, whose provocative New York Times columns are keenly followed by millions. One of the world's most respected economists, Krugman has been named America's most important columnist by the
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"Paul Krugman is a hero of mine. Read his book."Al Franken
No one has more authority to call the shots the way they really are than award-winning economist Paul Krugman, whose provocative New York Times columns are keenly followed by millions. One of the world's most respected economists, Krugman has been named America's most important columnist by the Washington Monthly and columnist of the year by Editor and Publisher magazine.
A major bestseller, this influential and wide-ranging book has been praised by BusinessWeek as Krugman's "most provocative and compelling effort yet," the New York Review of Books as "refreshing," and Library Journal as "thought-provoking...even funny." The American Prospect put it in vivid terms: "In a time when too few tell it like it is...[Krugman] has taken on the battle of our time."
Built from Paul Krugman's influential Op-Ed columns for the New York Times, this book galvanized the reading public. With wit, passion, and a unique ability to explain complex issues in plain English, Krugman describes how the nation has been misled by a dishonest administration.
In this long-awaited work containing Krugman's most influential columns along with new commentary, he chronicles how the boom economy unraveled: how exuberance gave way to pessimism, how the age of corporate heroes gave way to corporate scandals, how fiscal responsibility collapsed. From his account of the secret history of the California energy crisis to his devastating dissections of dishonesty in the Bush administration, from the war in Iraq to the looting of California to the false pretenses used to sell an economic policy that benefits only a small elite, Krugman tells the uncomfortable truth like no one else. And he gives us the road map we will need to follow if we are to get the country back on track.
The paperback edition features a new introduction as well as new writings.
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Read an Excerpt
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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Meet the Author
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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