The Roaring Nineties: A New History of the World's Most Prosperous Decade

Overview

How one of the greatest economic expansions in history sowed the seeds of its own collapse.
With his best-selling Globalization and Its Discontents, Joseph E. Stiglitz showed how a misplaced faith in free-market ideology led to many of the recent problems suffered by the developing nations. Here he turns the same light on the United States.The Roaring Nineties offers not only an insider's illuminating view of policymaking but also a compelling case that even the Clinton ...

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The Roaring Nineties: A New History of the World's Most Prosperous Decade

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Overview

How one of the greatest economic expansions in history sowed the seeds of its own collapse.
With his best-selling Globalization and Its Discontents, Joseph E. Stiglitz showed how a misplaced faith in free-market ideology led to many of the recent problems suffered by the developing nations. Here he turns the same light on the United States.The Roaring Nineties offers not only an insider's illuminating view of policymaking but also a compelling case that even the Clinton administration was too closely tied to the financial community—that along with enormous economic success in the nineties came the seeds of the destruction visited on the economy at the end of the decade.
This groundbreaking work by the Nobel Prize-winning economist argues that much of what we understood about the 1990s' prosperity is wrong, that the theories that have been used to guide world leaders and anchor key business decisions were fundamentally outdated. Yes, jobs were created, technology prospered, inflation fell, and poverty was reduced. But at the same time the foundation was laid for the economic problems we face today. Trapped in a near-ideological commitment to free markets, policymakers permitted accounting standards to slip, carried deregulation further than they should have, and pandered to corporate greed. These chickens have now come home to roost.
The paperback includes a new introduction that reviews the continued failure of the Bush administration's policies, which have taken a bad situation and made it worse.

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Editorial Reviews

Booklist
“An excellent primer.”
Salon.com
Joe Stiglitz is the economist I want guarding my back if a bloody firefight is about to break out with free-market fundamentalists.— John Leonard
Boston Globe
“Solidly rooted in [Stiglitz's] path-breaking work on the economics of risk and information.”
Express News
“In this groundbreaking work, Stiglitz argues that much of what we understood about '90s prosperity is wrong, that the theories are outdated.”
Harvard Business Review
“A powerfully argued brief...about the lessons to be gleaned from the new-economy bubble.”
San Francisco Chronicle
“Stiglitz brings unsurpassed expertise and an insider's perspective to the subject of corporate greed.”
John Leonard - Salon.com
“Joe Stiglitz is the economist I want guarding my back if a bloody firefight is about to break out with free-market fundamentalists.”
The Washington Post
Since his childhood in Gary, Ind., an archetypal dying city of the passing industrial age, where, as he once said, "the poverty, the discrimination, the episodic unemployment could not but strike an inquiring youngster," Joseph Stiglitz has been asking essential questions about how and why economic policies work or fail. Drawing on his experiences from inside the Clinton administration, as well as on the economic theories he honed at America's elite universities (ideas for which he won a Nobel prize for economics in 2001), he seems particularly well suited to deal with the financial boom of the Clinton era and the bust that followed. —David Maraniss
Publishers Weekly
As an economic adviser to President Clinton and a World Bank official, Nobel Prize winner Stiglitz (Globalization and Its Discontents) had a front-row seat for the financial boom of the 1990s. He discusses how, contrary to all theory, reducing the national deficit led to the economic upswing, but his interest lies not in how the bubble happened but in those qualities that eventually led to its collapse. One of his chief arguments is that although efficient markets depend upon the free flow of information, deregulation enabled corporations like Enron to present distorted financial data, "stealing money from their unwary shareholders" in the process. Financial analysts also withheld frank assessments from investors to maintain their insider status, and the "conflicts of interest gone out of control" inevitably led to disaster. The book suggests Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan could have slowed things down, but failed to back up tentative public remarks with firm action. The Clinton administration also comes in for some of the blame for pressuring foreign countries to adopt policies it wouldn't apply to its own economy. But the largest portion of the blame is doled out to George W. Bush for mishandling the initial stages of the recession, allowing it to spiral dangerously in the name of free markets. Instead, Stiglitz calls for just enough regulation to promote what he dubs "Democratic Idealism," a fairly standard liberal platform of social justice and economic reform. Whatever one thinks of his long-term goals, the straightforward and well-reasoned summation of the last decade's market trends has a convincing ring of truth. (Oct.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Foreign Affairs
This interesting book is a critique of the Clinton administration by a Nobel Prize-winning economist who served on Clinton's Council of Economic Advisers. It is partly a mea culpa and partly an effort by the author to distance himself from administration decisions, which were dominated by a Treasury Department too often beholden to the financial industry. But Stiglitz's more general message concerns the balance struck in a free society between the government and the market — a balance that even under Clinton, not to mention under the current administration, tilted too heavily toward nonintervention.

Stiglitz submits that although politicians often wrongly claim credit for positive economic developments that occur on their watch, their actions do in some instances make a difference. He lauds Clinton's efforts to reduce the deficit and predicts that Bush's tax cuts will produce budget shortfalls that plague the country for many years. He goes on to argue that the mantra of free markets has been accepted far too uncritically by policymakers, as was evident in the flawed deregulation of the energy, telecommunications, and financial industries. He emphasizes, accordingly, the importance of timely, accurate information for both policymakers and the informed public — and the corresponding need to be aware of the incentives that motivate decision-makers, especially businesspeople and their close advisers. Stiglitz's arguments are well written, cogent, and nontechnical and will likely make their way into electoral debate.

Library Journal
So why is the economy tanking? A Nobel prize-winning economist points to the Nineties' fanatical commitment to free markets and deregulation. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A best-of-times, worst-of-times overview of the previous decade by whip-smart economist and presidential advisor Stiglitz (Economics/Columbia Univ.; Globalization and Its Discontents, 2002). Adam Smith’s playing field-leveling invisible hand, observes Stiglitz, sometimes can’t be seen because it is in fact not there. So it seemed through much of the 1990s, which saw American capitalism claw its way up staggering new heights of inequity and avarice. Take the stock market’s ever more pronounced dislike, throughout the decade, of giving the small investor an even break with equal access to intelligence, about which Stiglitz remarks, "Unfettered markets, rampant with conflicts of interest, can lead to inefficiency. We can never eliminate the problems; we can, however, mitigate them. In the nineties, we made them worse." Some of the ways in which the economy was made worse, Stiglitz writes, were political in nature; the Clinton administration, which he served as a member of the Council of Economic Advisors, failed to get a handle on such things as funny corporate accounting practices and the endless corporate appropriation of the public domain. Fault Clinton Stiglitz does, and at many points as he turns from NAFTA to the WTO to the Enron scandal and on. Yet, he warns, it is a mistake to attribute to that administration the collapse of the great bubble and the dive into recession that closed the decade: though Clinton may earn middling marks, Stiglitz slyly notes, as a teacher he grades on a curve, and Clinton positively shines by comparison with what came before and after. That collapse brought with it the evaporation of trillions and a subsequent performance well below the economy’spotential—but no real curbing of such matters as executive compensation, merger mania, and unemployment. Contra many of his colleagues, Stiglitz calls for more rather than less regulation, noting that the bursting bubble did bring at least some useful reforms in accounting practices and the public disclosure of information. Likely to cause indigestion among some Wall Streeters, but a thoughtful, accessible survey of a history that’s still unfolding. Author tour
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393326185
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 9/19/2004
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 432
  • Sales rank: 1,448,968
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Winner of the 2001 Nobel Memorial Prize for Economics, Joseph E. Stiglitz is the best-selling author of Making Globalization Work; Globalization and Its Discontents; and, with Linda Bilmes, The Three Trillion Dollar War. He was chairman of President Clinton's Council of Economic Advisers and served as senior vice president and chief economist at the World Bank. He teaches at Columbia University and lives in New York City.

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Table of Contents

Preface
Acknowledgments
Ch. 1 Boom and Bust: Seeds of Destruction 3
Ch. 2 Miracleworkers, or Lucky Mistakes? 29
Ch. 3 The All-Powerful Fed and Its Role in Inflating the Bubble 56
Ch. 4 Deregulation Run Amok 87
Ch. 5 Creative Accounting 115
Ch. 6 The Banks and the Bubble 140
Ch. 7 Tax Cuts: Feeding the Frenzy 170
Ch. 8 Making Risk a Way of Life 180
Ch. 9 Globalization: Early Forays 202
Ch. 10 Enron 241
Ch. 11 Debunking the Myths 269
Ch. 12 Toward a New Democratic Idealism: Vision and Values 281
Epilogue: Further Lessons on How to Mismanage the Economy 320
Notes 337
Index 359
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 15, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Fine attack on the evils and stupidities of finance capital

    Joseph Stiglitz, formerly Chief Economist at the World Bank, has written a fierce attack on finance capital. He warns, ¿what was good for Wall Street might not be ¿ and often was not ¿ good for the country. ¿ The captains of industry ¿ the leaders to whom all Americans were told to look up to [sic], those who served as the aspiration [sic] for others ¿ have, it turns out, acted in ways which benefited themselves at the expense of others. ¿ The market system had provided incentives in which by doing well for themselves they did not benefit others, but rather their gains were at the expense of those they were supposed to be working for.¿ <BR/><BR/>As he points out, ¿In spite of the confidence that is so often expressed in how well markets work, there is a huge body of research suggesting that many investors are simply not rational, and if that is the case, then the prices that emerge in the market may not provide good `directions¿ for what to invest in.¿ This refutes capitalism¿s main claim, that only the market can produce a rational price system. So the market system is neither fair nor efficient.<BR/><BR/>Yet the US state tries to force all other states along the same path, using the IMF, the World Bank and the World Trade Organization. Stiglitz notes, ¿While we talked about democracy, we did everything we could to maintain our control of the global economic system, and to make sure that it worked for our interests, or more accurately, for the financial and corporate interests that dominated this part of our national life.¿<BR/><BR/>He sums up the US record, ¿the treaties that we had hailed so proudly were seen as unbalanced, [and] trade liberalization as a new way in which the rich and powerful could exploit the weak and the poor. Just as the market economy had not delivered what it had promised to the countries of the former Soviet Union ¿ it brought unprecedented poverty, not unprecedented prosperity - trade liberalization did not deliver what it had promised. ¿ What a peculiar world, in which the poor countries are in effect subsidizing the richest.¿ <BR/><BR/>The nineties, like the 1920s, led to a crash. The bubble was bigger, and so was the crash. For 200 years of capitalism, boom has led to bust and as inevitably to liberal promises to create `a gentler, more humane capitalism¿. As Stiglitz admits, ¿rather than attacking the premises, the ideology, we accepted the terms of the debate as they had been framed.¿ We do not need reforms of this failed, destructive system; we need a new and better system.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 2, 2005

    Highly Recommended !

    Only a Nobel Prize-winning economist could disguise a political broadside against conservatives and the George W. Bush administration inside a Trojan horse mea culpa of the Bill Clinton White House. No one could argue with Joseph Stiglitz¿s assertion that an effective modern economy must strike a reasonable balance between free markets and government oversight - but what is reasonable? Stiglitz regrets what is arguably the shining achievement of the Clinton Administration, namely, its success in balancing the U.S. budget. Credit him for consistency: he opposed Clinton¿s tax cut, just as he opposed George W. Bush¿s. Stiglitz¿s academic and professional chops are beyond question, and his insights into corporate welfare and inefficient markets are quite valuable if somewhat short of profound. We find that this volume provides strong insights into the inner workings of the American economic juggernaut. Your reaction will depend whether you agree or disagree with the author¿s contentions that the Clinton Administration was not liberal enough and that the present Bush Administration believes in small government.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 28, 2004

    An sightful and highly interestingo book.

    I leave it to the professional reviewers to describe the contents of the book. I am not an economist, but a business person, and found the varied explorations, analysis and recommendations to be clear, readable and interesting¿and all encompassing

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