The Price of Inequality: How Today's Divided Society Endangers Our Future

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Overview

A forceful argument against America's vicious circle of growing inequality by the Nobel Prize–winning economist.
America currently has the most inequality, and the least equality of opportunity, among the advanced countries. While market forces play a role in this stark picture, politics has shaped those market forces. In this best-selling book, Nobel Prize–winning economist Joseph E. Stiglitz exposes the efforts of well-heeled interests to compound their wealth in ways that ...

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The Price of Inequality: How Today's Divided Society Endangers Our Future

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Overview

A forceful argument against America's vicious circle of growing inequality by the Nobel Prize–winning economist.
America currently has the most inequality, and the least equality of opportunity, among the advanced countries. While market forces play a role in this stark picture, politics has shaped those market forces. In this best-selling book, Nobel Prize–winning economist Joseph E. Stiglitz exposes the efforts of well-heeled interests to compound their wealth in ways that have stifled true, dynamic capitalism. Along the way he examines the effect of inequality on our economy, our democracy, and our system of justice. Stiglitz explains how inequality affects and is affected by every aspect of national policy, and with characteristic insight he offers a vision for a more just and prosperous future, supported by a concrete program to achieve that vision.

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Editorial Reviews

New York Times Book Review - Thomas B. Edsall
“The single most comprehensive counterargument to both Democratic neoliberalism and Republican laissez-faire theories. While credible economists running the gamut from center right to center left describe our bleak present as the result of seemingly unstoppable developments—globalization and automation, a self-replicating establishment built on "meritocratic" competition, the debt-driven collapse of 2008—Stiglitz stands apart in his defiant rejection of such notions of inevitability. He seeks to shift the terms of the debate.”
Thomas B. Edsall - New York Times Book Review
“The single most comprehensive counterargument to both Democratic neoliberalism and Republican laissez-faire theories. While credible economists running the gamut from center right to center left describe our bleak present as the result of seemingly unstoppable developments—globalization and automation, a self-replicating establishment built on 'meritocratic' competition, the debt-driven collapse of 2008—Stiglitz stands apart in his defiant rejection of such notions of inevitability. He seeks to shift the terms of the debate.”
New York Times Book Review
“The single most comprehensive counterargument to both Democratic neoliberalism and Republican laissez-faire theories. While credible economists running the gamut from center right to center left describe our bleak present as the result of seemingly unstoppable developments—globalization and automation, a self-replicating establishment built on "meritocratic" competition, the debt-driven collapse of 2008—Stiglitz stands apart in his defiant rejection of such notions of inevitability. He seeks to shift the terms of the debate.”— Thomas B. Edsall
The New York Times Book Review
…the single most comprehensive counter­argument to both Democratic neoliberalism and Republican laissez-faire theories. While credible economists running the gamut from center right to center left describe our bleak present as the result of seemingly unstoppable developments—globalization and automation, a self-replicating establishment built on "meritocratic" competition, the debt-driven collapse of 2008—Stiglitz stands apart in his defiant rejection of such notions of inevitability. He seeks to shift the terms of the debate. It is not uncontrollable technological and social change that has produced a two-tier society, Stiglitz argues, but the exercise of political power by moneyed interests over legislative and regulatory processes.
—Thomas B. Edsall
The Washington Post
In his new book, The Price of Inequality, Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz does not merely express anger—or rather, he expresses it only to set up a much larger discussion of the problem. In the process, he does liberal thinkers everywhere an immensely important service: He gives them a trenchant, engaging tool for arguing economics from the left…Stiglitz writes clearly and provocatively. He's the kind of economist who can talk about terms such as "rent-seeking" and the "euro crisis" and bring readers along for the ride.
—Dante Chinni
Publishers Weekly
In his concise and clearly argued newest, Stiglitz, a Nobel Prize-winning economist, outlines the economic, political, and social obstacles currently facing the U.S. and explores possibilities for how we can overcome them. Beginning with the financial collapse of 2008 and the ensuing Great Recession, Stiglitz (Globalization and Its Discontents) makes the now-ubiquitous point that "the rich were getting richer, while the rest were facing hardships that seem inconsonant with the American dream." The author opines that from this growing gap stem many other sobering social ills, such as "pollution, unemployment, and… the degradation of values to the point where everything is acceptable and no one is accountable." And while he contends that our current modus operandi is "neither stable nor sustainable," Stiglitz insists that inequality is not inherent in the system. He then goes on to lay out a plan for the long term, recommending practical changes to macroeconomic policies, taxes, labor laws, and how we navigate a globalizing world and dealing with the deficit. His visions of America's two possible futures reveals the extent of the dishearteningly large socioeconomic rift and its forecasted consequences, but Stiglitz's solutions—upheld by experience, perceptive analysis, and copious research—could very well bridge that divide, and reduce it in the process. (June)
Washington Post
Stiglitz writes clearly and provocatively. He’s the kind of economist who can talk about terms such as 'rent-seeking' and the 'euro crisis' and bring readers along for the ride... Stiglitz isn’t just writing about people being hurt by inequality, he is also writing about the system itself being in jeopardy and what needs to be done to fix it.— Dante Chinni
New York Times
An important and smart new book... It’s a searing read.— Nicholas Kristof
Dante Chinni - Washington Post
“Stiglitz writes clearly and provocatively. He’s the kind of economist who can talk about terms such as 'rent-seeking' and the 'euro crisis' and bring readers along for the ride... Stiglitz isn’t just writing about people being hurt by inequality, he is also writing about the system itself being in jeopardy and what needs to be done to fix it.”
Nicholas Kristof - New York Times
“An important and smart new book... It’s a searing read.”
From the Publisher
"Paul Boehmer's deep but gentle tone provides a comforting voice for the harsh realities that Stiglitz reveals.…More importantly, Boehmer knows how to project the key sentences of every paragraph, bringing home Stiglitz's point and giving the listener its full weight." —-AudioFile
Kirkus Reviews
From one of the world's leading economists, a political call to action in defense of equality and human rights. Nobel laureate Stiglitz (Economics/Columbia Univ.; Freefall: America, Free Markets and the Sinking of the World Economy, 2010, etc.) insists that increasing inequality in the United States stems from a breakdown of the country's political and economic systems. The failure to hold any banker accountable for actions that contributed to the recent economic crisis is a prime symptom of the case. The current level of inequality, writes the author, "increases instability, reduces productivity, and undermines democracy." Stiglitz concedes that there is merit in the arguments of those who point to the effects of technology, greed or the absence of bank regulation as contributing factors, and he agrees that corrective measures are needed. He goes further, arguing that inequality is a by-product of the ability to exploit consumers through monopoly power, and borrowers through shady practices. He shows that the consequences include a monopolistic redistribution powerful enough to have caused massive distortions in the U.S. financial system. This is still not the deeper problem, however. More fundamentally, people underestimate the problem of inequality; as a result, they fail to perceive the changes that are already underway. Stiglitz presents the situation as "the bigger battle over perceptions and over big ideas," a battle being fought through persuasion, framing, misrepresentation and obfuscation. Changing course requires winning this battle for truth. In this way, he argues, equality, the rule of law and accountability can be reestablished. An impassioned argument backed by rigorous economic analysis.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393345063
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 4/8/2013
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 560
  • Sales rank: 67,549
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 1.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Joseph E. Stiglitz received his PhD from MIT in 1967, became a full professor at Yale in 1970, and was awarded the John Bates Clark Award in 1979, which is given biennially by the American Economic Association to an economist under 40 who has made the most significant contribution to the field. He has taught at Princeton, Stanford, and MIT, and was the Drummond Professor and a fellow of All Souls College, Oxford. He is now a professor at Columbia University and co-chair of Columbia University's Committee on Global Thought. He is also the co-founder and co-president of the Initiative for Policy Dialogue at Columbia. In 2001, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in economics for his analyses of markets with asymmetric information, and was a lead author of the 1995 Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. In 2011, Time named Professor Stiglitz one of the 100 most influential people in the world. Professor Stiglitz was a member of the Council of Economic Advisers from 1993–95, during the Clinton administration, and served as its chairman from 1995–97. He then became chief economist and senior vice president of the World Bank from 1997–2000. In 2008, he was asked by the French President Nicolas Sarkozy to chair the Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress, which released its final report in September 2009. In 2009, he was appointed by the President of the United Nations General Assembly as chair of the Commission of Experts on Reform of the International Financial and Monetary System, which also released its report in September 2009. Professor Stiglitz helped create a new branch of economics—The Economics of Information—exploring the consequences of information asymmetries and pioneering such pivotal concepts as adverse selection and moral hazard, which have now become standard tools not only for theorists but also for policy analysts. He has made major contributions to the theories of welfare economics and of income and wealth distribution, and his work has helped explain the circumstances in which markets do not work well and how selective government intervention can improve market performance. Recognized around the world as a leading economic educator, Professor Stiglitz has written books that have been translated into more than a dozen languages. He also founded one of the leading economics journals, The Journal of Economic Perspectives. His book, Globalization and Its Discontents (Norton, 2001), has been translated into 35 languages and has sold more than a million copies worldwide. Other recent books include The Roaring Nineties (Norton); Towards a New Paradigm in Monetary Economics (Cambridge University Press), with Bruce Greenwald; Fair Trade for All (Oxford University Press), with Andrew Charlton; Making Globalization Work (Norton and Penguin/ Allen Lane, 2006); The Three Trillion Dollar War: The True Cost of the Iraq Conflict (Norton and Penguin/ Allen Lane, 2008), with Linda Bilmes at Harvard University; Freefall: America, Free Markets, and the Sinking of the World Economy (Norton and Penguin/ Allen Lane, 2010); and The Price of Inequality: How Today's Divided Society Endangers Our Future (Norton and Penguin/ Allen Lane, 2012).

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Table of Contents

Preface ix

Acknowledgments xxvii

Chapter 1 America's 1 Percent Problem 1

Chapter 2 Rent Seeking and the Making of an Unequal Society 28

Chapter 3 Markets and Inequality 52

Chapter 4 Why It Matters 83

Chaffer 5 A Democracy in Peril 118

Chapter 6 1984 Is Upon Us 146

Chapter 7 Justice for All? How Inequality is Eroding the Rule of Law 187

Chapter 8 The Battle of the Budget 207

Chapter 9 A Macroeconomic Policy and a Central Bank by And for the 1 Percent 238

Chapter 10 The Way Forward: Another World Is Possible 265

Notes 291

Index 399

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 22 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(13)

4 Star

(4)

3 Star

(1)

2 Star

(1)

1 Star

(3)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 22 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 7, 2012

    Everyone should read this!!! It's time for American's to educate

    Everyone should read this!!! It's time for American's to educate themselves about what's going on in our country.

    17 out of 19 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 17, 2012

    Excellent and Factual Analysis by a Nobel Economist

    Stiglitz writes openly and honestly about a topic he knows very well. He carefully documents and analyzes the events that have brought America to such a divided state in which so few have so much and so many have so little. If your mind is already made up and airtight, then don't read this... the facts may just confuse you. But if you have an honest interest in where we are, how we got here, and where we may be heading, then you'll enjoy this book.

    12 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 9, 2012

    Realistic and Thought Provoking

    This is a very realistic and thought provoking book on what is happening in the US Economy. It is clear the inequality gap has been widening for 30 years or so and there has been one band aid after another put on it. The "Great Recession" ripped that off and now we all can see what has happened and what is continuing to happen.

    In this book Joseph Stiglitz not only describes what has happened with clear evidence but he also proposes solutions to the problem. This is what I like most about this book is he gives clear and concise recommendations. Whether you agree or not you should take them seriously as Stiglitz is a serious economist and has no political stake in his conclusions.

    We know how it ends up if we allow this inequality to continue: Just go to any country where the inequality is high - the rich build bigger and bigger gates and walls to wall themselves off from the community, they become self contained and the poor scramble for what remains. Then, in a blink of an eye, things like the Arab Spring occur. So, we know this ends badly and Stiglitz describes this in detail.

    9 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 25, 2012

    Insightful and thorough. I give it 4 stars instead of 5, howeve

    Insightful and thorough. I give it 4 stars instead of 5, however, because the author gets some facts wrong and tends to lump unrelated things together as worthy of condemnation. If you view the author as a sharp person who just borders on being an ideologue, then the book can be viewed in light of its source and can be taken for what it is. A few examples:
    (1) False statement: The author states that Reagan's tax cuts increased only the deficit, but not revenues: FALSE. Tax revenues soared during the '80s, along with GDP growth. Federal government spending just increased faster.
    (2) Another false statement: The author states that government today, pushed by "the rich", is too divided to do anything but lower taxes, and it cannot redistribute. FALSE. Taxes have increased in some respects, such as via healthcare reform, and at least the Federal government imposes progressive taxation and has various social programs, which redistributes money from the rich to the poor. Perhaps the Federal government is too divided to increase taxes or redistribution in the aggregate, but that's not what the author says.
    (2) Lumping things together: The author says that deregulation pushed by "the wealthy" is "shortsighed" and has caused "instability" in the US. Fine. The author then mentions deregulation of transportation as an example of that at the beginning of a long stretch of criticism of financial deregulation. Deregulation of railroads, for example, should not be treated in the same breath as deregulation of investment banks; the causes and results of both are far different, and when the author lumps them together, he comes across as a statist ideologue..

    4 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 14, 2012

    Recommended reading!

    An excellent explanation of how wealth in America has been transferred from the Middle Class to the elite 1%,and why that transfer will continue unless policy is shifted from supply economics to demand economics.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 4, 2012

    Stilitz bends the truth around to reach his conclusions. Conveni

    Stilitz bends the truth around to reach his conclusions. Conveniently likes to leave out facts. I am not buying it and I wished I never bought this book.

    4 out of 42 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 18, 2013

    Peter Pan (Stiglitz) rallies the Lost Boys (Keynesians). [paraph

    Peter Pan (Stiglitz) rallies the Lost Boys (Keynesians). [paraphrase] Do you remember the 50s, 60s, and 70s, when income inequality was a fraction of what it is today? We can rebuild Neverland! We don't have to grow up! [/paraphrase] Actually, Mr. Stiglitz, we do have to grow up.

    From 1950 to 1980, the US' primary economic competitor was a communist dictatorship, with just half of the US' population. Furthermore, the USSR would never have sullied themselves with capitalist foreign direct investment, which meant the US could tax the wealthy however it pleased without any real consequences. In the 1970s, the world began to change. Cracks began to show in the Keynesian social technocracy, notably the oil crises and stagflation. The Asian continent began to stir, as well, with the ascendancy of Japan, China, and India. The US middle class now competes with a global population of workers who outnumber Americans ten fold. The global working class is relatively well educated, and they have access to communications and transportation. All countries are competing to attract foreign investment. The genie cannot be put back into the bottle by restricting capital flows and goods flows, nor would that benefit the workers of the world, since Stiglitz' proposed remedy to lack of capital flow, free labor mobility, is pie-in-the-sky. Stiglitz blames the 1% for the lack of global labor mobility, as if the 1% are creating language and cultural barriers, or giving citizens an irrational connection to their immobile elderly relatives or to the geographic area of their birth and upbringing.

    During the course of the book, it becomes clear that Stiglitz' quarrel is not with the "American Right" (by American Right he is actually referring to all neoliberals) or the wealthy, his quarrel is with a global economic environment beyond his control and the disrepair and inefficiency of Keynesian bureaucracies. Since 1950, payroll taxes have expanded from 10% of all Federal revenues to 40% of all Federal revenues to pay for Neverland, and Keynsians keep trying to treat the problem with income stimulation, which merely increases demand-pull inflation for everything from housing to healthcare. The middle class pay more than ever, yet they get increasingly fewer services from our antiquated social system. As Stiglitz opines, we don't get value for our money, yet he supposes that a group of political opponents, who allegedly don't believe in spending the money in the first place, are the driving force behind waste.

    Stiglitz gets two stars for being a Nobel laureate and for providing thorough research on income inequality. His advocacy for more intense capitalistic competition is also laudable, and I appreciate has sharp words for the socio-economic consequences of our malignant justice system. The remainder of the book is an awkward attempt to marry his contempt for neoliberalism and globalization to his economic game plan, which reads as a 97-thesis against current Keynesian bureaucrats. At some points, the book lives so far in the halcyon days of America's past, I half expected Mr. Stiglitz to suggest that East-coast urbanites travel westward in covered wagons.

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 13, 2013

    Too bad there are no stars to rate this. I do not envy people w

    Too bad there are no stars to rate this. I do not envy people who have "made" it through their own sweat and tears. I do resent people who are constantly "on the dole". America is well on it's way to becomming a banana republic.

    1 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 19, 2012

    The truth

    Now what?

    1 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 18, 2013

    Highly Recommended - you must check it out!!

    This is one of the books that responds to the "End of the Liberal Class" line of books... There is a new era coming.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 10, 2012

    haven't finished reading yet.

    Good so far.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted July 23, 2012

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    Posted April 26, 2014

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    Posted March 12, 2013

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    Posted July 27, 2012

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