Labyrinths of Prosperity: Economic Follies, Democratic Remedies

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Argues that macroeconomic management of the economy leads nations into decline.
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Editorial Reviews

Michael James
Labyrinths of Prosperity has several attractive features. Brenner shows how economists can draw on sociology, history and political science to supplement their analyses of the conditions of prosperity. The main text, written in plain but lively English, takes up about two-thirds of the book; the technical analysis and supporting data are relegated to appendices and notes. Let Brenner have the last word, in a passage that usefully summarizes and connects several of his main ideas: In spite of worrying about deficits, some economists are still trapped in Keynesian semantics and talk about the stimulus of deficits, of spending of public works (now called infrastructure) ... The issue is responsible governance ... rather than reliance on one or another economic theory, or one way or another of counting numbers. The theories are just frequently repeated opinions without foundations, and frequently the numbers bear no relationship to facts. The roads may lead nowhere, and the schools may produce illiterates with diplomas. -- (Michael James, Agenda, 1995)
Judy Shelton
Every once in a while an economist comes along who threatens to overturn conventional wisdom by pointing out that the basic tools of the trade - such as the official statistics used to fine-tune policy recommendations - are blunt and ineffectual instruments. Reuven Brenner is such an iconoclast among economists. -- (Judy Shelton, The Wall Street Journal, October 6, 1994)
John Williams
This book is so full of common sense that the academy will surely ignore it. In it, Brenner attacks many common orthodoxies about how societies should cultivate a prosperous society. These attacks focus on macroeconomic theory and practice, the design of democratic institutions, and central planning. The central thrust of the book is that all extant theories focusing on economic performance ignore basic fundamental tents of economic activity: people must take risks and innovate if an economy is to prosper. -- (John Williams, Comparative Politics, September 1995)
John E. Berthoud
The ongoing debate among political economists in the industrialized West over the impact of fiscal and monetary policy on economic growth has been joined by eastern Europeans who are struggling to set the future direction of their nations' economies. This controversy provides the setting for ...Reuven Brenner's new work,Labyrinths of Prosperity. Brenner's book is an insightful critique of macroeconomic analysis, adding fresh texture and flavor to the field of political economy ...What is the likely impact of Brenner's book? A nation wedded to economic statistics, such as the United States, will not likely give up reliance on macroeconomic data very quickly. Perhaps, at minimum, Brenner's work will promote greater public skepticism in their view of economic data. And his work is0 certainly another contribution to the literature arguing for a larger role of citizenry in the making of public policy. Shedding myths and the pretentious language of macroeconomics provides for a greater involvement in the great decisions of political economy. This is something needed in the industrialized West and the nations of eastern Europe as they try to create market economies. -- (John E. Berthoud, The Public Interest, Number 120, Summer 1995)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780472095568
  • Publisher: University of Michigan Press
  • Publication date: 12/1/1994
  • Pages: 312

Table of Contents

1 Illusions of Precision 1
2 Government Policies: Illusions of Science 17
3 Keys to Prosperity: Trade and Finance 51
4 Inflation and Central Banks: Matters of Trust 85
5 From Great Failures to Great Transformations 111
6 Policies without Dogmas 145
Appendixes 167
Appendix 1: Underground Economies and the Measurement of Wealth 169
Appendix 2: Mismeasured Aggregates, Models, and Policies 171
Appendix 3: Demography and Savings 177
Appendix 4: Adjustments to Demographic Changes 195
Notes 197
References 249
Name Index 271
Subject Index 277
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