Finance and the Good Society

Finance and the Good Society

by Robert J. Shiller


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The reputation of the financial industry could hardly be worse than it is today in the painful aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis. New York Times best-selling economist Robert Shiller is no apologist for the sins of finance--he is probably the only person to have predicted both the stock market bubble of 2000 and the real estate bubble that led up to the subprime mortgage meltdown. But in this important and timely book, Shiller argues that, rather than condemning finance, we need to reclaim it for the common good. He makes a powerful case for recognizing that finance, far from being a parasite on society, is one of the most powerful tools we have for solving our common problems and increasing the general well-being. We need more financial innovation--not less--and finance should play a larger role in helping society achieve its goals.

Challenging the public and its leaders to rethink finance and its role in society, Shiller argues that finance should be defined not merely as the manipulation of money or the management of risk but as the stewardship of society's assets. He explains how people in financial careers--from CEO, investment manager, and banker to insurer, lawyer, and regulator--can and do manage, protect, and increase these assets. He describes how finance has historically contributed to the good of society through inventions such as insurance, mortgages, savings accounts, and pensions, and argues that we need to envision new ways to rechannel financial creativity to benefit society as a whole.

Ultimately, Shiller shows how society can once again harness the power of finance for the greater good.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780691154886
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Publication date: 03/20/2012
Pages: 304
Product dimensions: 6.40(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Robert J. Shiller is the author of "Irrational Exuberance" and "The Subprime Solution", and the coauthor, with George A. Akerlof, of "Animal Spirits: How Human Psychology Drives the Economy", and "Why It Matters for Global Capitalism" (all Princeton). He is the Arthur M. Okun Professor of Economics at Yale University.

Table of Contents

Preface vii

Introduction: Finance, Stewardship, and Our Goals 1

Part One: Roles and Responsibilities

1. Chief Executive Offi cers 19

2. Investment Managers 27

3. Bankers 37

4. Investment Bankers 45

5. Mortgage Lenders and Securitizers 50

6. Traders and Market Makers 57

7. Insurers 64

8. Market Designers and Financial Engineers 69

9. Derivatives Providers 75

10. Lawyers and Financial Advisers 81

11. Lobbyists 87

12. Regulators 94

13. Accountants and Auditors 100

14. Educators 103

15. Public Goods Financiers 107

16. Policy Makers in Charge of Stabilizing the Economy 111

17. Trustees and Nonprofi t Managers 119

18. Philanthropists 124

Part Two: Finance and Its Discontents

19. Finance, Mathematics, and Beauty 131

20. Categorizing People: Financiers versus Artists and Other Idealists 135

21. An Impulse for Risk Taking 139

22. An Impulse for Conventionality and Familiarity 143

23. Debt and Leverage 151

24. Some Unfortunate Incentives to Sleaziness Inherent in Finance 159

25. The Signifi cance of Financial Speculation 168

26. Speculative Bubbles and Their Costs to Society 178

27. Inequality and Injustice 187

28. Problems with Philanthropy 197

29. The Dispersal of Ownership of Capital 209

30. The Great Illusion, Then and Now 219

Epilogue: Finance, Power, and Human Values 231

Notes 241

References 257

Index 273

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Finance and the Good Society 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
RolfDobelli More than 1 year ago
What’s so good about finance and the financial sector? Plenty, according to noted economist Robert J. Shiller. Even though much of society is furious over the financial industry’s excesses and wrongdoings, Shiller’s voice rings out in a reasoned, yet passionate – though solitary – defense of the value finance brings to society. True, he says, rogues may crop up in the industry – but most of the sector boasts intelligent, honest, hardworking men and women who contribute to advancing society and the economy for the benefit of all, not just the wealthiest. While Shiller makes good points about the way finance usually contributes to society, his straightforward presentation tends to gloss over some egregious recent examples of corporate greed and mischief. Though he cites some examples of dubious behavior, he dubs investment bankers “keepers of the peace.” Well, maybe you wouldn’t go that far, but getAbstract suggests Shiller’s lucid exposition of financiers’ responsibilities to those who welcome a commonsense approach to the reforms needed to drive the global financial engine forward.