Zombie Economics: How Dead Ideas Still Walk among Us (New in Paper)

Zombie Economics: How Dead Ideas Still Walk among Us (New in Paper)

by John Quiggin
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Princeton University Press
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Zombie Economics: How Dead Ideas Still Walk among Us (New in Paper)

In the graveyard of economic ideology, dead ideas still stalk the land.

The recent financial crisis laid bare many of the assumptions behind market liberalism—the theory that market-based solutions are always best, regardless of the problem. For decades, their advocates dominated mainstream economics, and their influence created a system where an unthinking faith in markets led many to view speculative investments as fundamentally safe. The crisis seemed to have killed off these ideas, but they still live on in the minds of many—members of the public, commentators, politicians, economists, and even those charged with cleaning up the mess. In Zombie Economics, John Quiggin explains how these dead ideas still walk among us—and why we must find a way to kill them once and for all if we are to avoid an even bigger financial crisis in the future.

Zombie Economics takes the reader through the origins, consequences, and implosion of a system of ideas whose time has come and gone. These beliefs—that deregulation had conquered the financial cycle, that markets were always the best judge of value, that policies designed to benefit the rich made everyone better off—brought us to the brink of disaster once before, and their persistent hold on many threatens to do so again. Because these ideas will never die unless there is an alternative, Zombie Economics also looks ahead at what could replace market liberalism, arguing that a simple return to traditional Keynesian economics and the politics of the welfare state will not be enough—either to kill dead ideas, or prevent future crises.

In a new chapter, Quiggin brings the book up to date with a discussion of the re-emergence of pre-Keynesian ideas about austerity and balanced budgets as a response to recession.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780691154541
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Publication date: 05/06/2012
Edition description: With a New chapter by the author
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 818,395
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.90(d)

Table of Contents

Preface vii Introduction 1

Chapter 1: The Great Moderation 5
Birth: Calm after the Storms 8
Life: The Great Risk Shift 13
Death: The Dissenters and Their Vindication 19
Reanimation: A Global Crisis or a Transitory Blip? 30
After the Zombies: Rethinking the Experience of the Twentieth Century 31
Further Reading 34

Chapter 2: The Efficient Markets Hypothesis 35
Birth: From Casino to Calculating Machine 36
Life: Black-Scholes,
Bankers, and Bubbles 39
Death: The Crisis of 2008 50
Reanimation: Chicago Revives the Dead 64
After the Zombies: The State and the Market 66
Further Reading 77

Chapter 3: Dynamic Stochastic General Equili brium 79
Birth: From the Phillips Curve to the NAIRU, and Beyond 83
Life: Rationality and the Representative Agent 106
Death: How Did Economists Get It So Wrong? 110
Reanimation: How Obama Caused the Global Financial Crisis 121
After the Zombies: Toward a Realistic Macroeconomics 123
Further Reading 133

Chapter 4: Trickle -down Economics 136
Birth: From Supply-side Economics to Dynamic Scoring 138
Life: Excuses for Inequality 146
Death: The Rich Get Richer and the Poor Go Nowhere 152
Reanimation: Mobility without Movement 167
After the Zombies: Economics, Inequality, and Equity 168
Further Reading 172

Chapter 5: Privati zation 174
Birth: We Are All Market Liberals Now 178
Life: A Policy in Search of a Rationale 182
Death: Puzzles and Failures 187
Reanimation: Dead for Good? 199
After the Zombies: The Mixed Economy 200
Further Reading 204
Conclusion: Economics for the Twenty -first Century 206
Rethinking the Experience of the Twentieth Century 206
A New Approach to Risk and Uncertainty 207
What Is Needed in Economics 210

References 213
Index 229

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Zombie Economics: How Dead Ideas Still Walk among Us 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Quiggin successfully writes a book that should become a standard requirement for economic policy classes for at least the next decade. His concise overview of the microeconomic policies that lead to the macroeconomic consequences of the current crisis--deregulation and privatization, in particular--are used to support a thesis aimed squarely at many in the economics profession and the ideologues who love them. As a professional economist myself, I did not necessarily appreciate Quiggin's criticisms, but I do recognize them in the profession. While his descriptions of some models are somewhat oversimplified, they are not so deconstructed that his points are not substantial and clearly made. Modern economics has a challenge before it, and Quiggin makes apparent what that challenge is: start being relevant or we will all be forced to go through another potentially preventable economic crisis.
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RolfDobelli More than 1 year ago
Like the villain in a horror movie, discredited economic theories can return to haunt you. Australian economist John Quiggin claims that some of these ideas - like total privatization, perfectly rational markets and trickle-down policies - nearly destroyed the world's economy, and that they are trying to make one more comeback. In an attempt to drive the final stake through the brain-eating, dead soul of "zombie economics," he knifes through the five most dangerous principles of "market liberalism." With no apparent fear of being controversial, he presents a compelling case as to why each of those "zombie ideas" failed and describes a new, alternative approach, melding the best of free-market capitalism with judicious use of government involvement to address crucial social needs. Quiggin heavily annotates his work and provides a thoughtfully researched bibliography. Though the economic jargon can, at times, slow your progress, Quiggin's book rewards your persistence. getAbstract recommends this eerie tour through defunct yet durable economics to anyone who enjoys a good scare. Find your silver bullets, construct your booby traps and carry your axes for good measure: Quiggin says it is high time to kill those zombies once and for all.
reasonablyrational More than 1 year ago
Quiggin writes entertainly, so that the reading is smooth and fun, even if the content should alarm you. If you've believed that economics was the boring science--prepare to be surprised and enlightened. After reading this book, not only will you have much more economic theory in the palm of your hand, you'll also have acquired healthy skepticism about "conventional wisdom," plus some facts to argue with. A good read, and one you won't feel you've wasted an evening on!
MrMIT More than 1 year ago
John Quiggin in an Australian economist. He made his name in the early 1980s in an esoteric area called decision theory. The Econometrics Society made him a fellow on the basis of this work, a distinguished award. He writes a blog, which has many devoted followers. The book is primarily about macroeconomics, however, which is not his area. Asking Quiggin about macroeconomics is like going to a podiatrist for your headache: it's the wrong end of the body. The chapter on Dynamic Stochastic General Equilibrium modeling (DSGE modeling) is a good example of Quiggin's lack of expertise about modern macroeconomics. He states that one of the oddities about DSGE modeling is the representative agent paradigm. This is an abstraction where the decision making of one representative consumer/worker is taken as a stand-in for the millions of people living in an actual economy. This abstraction was employed in a famous 1982 article by Kydland and Prescott. Finn I. Kydland and Edward C. Prescott justly won the Noble prize in 2004. The stand-in consumer was abandoned in 1994 in important work by the late and great economist S. Rao Aiyagari. Every graduate student in macroeconomics today knows the Aiyagari paradigm. This work is not mentioned in Quiggin. Nor is the celebrated work by Mortensen and Pissarides, done during the late 1980s and early 1990s, on modeling unemployment. Dale T. Mortensen and Christopher A. Pissarides won the 2011 Noble prize for Economics. There has been a flurry of work in macroeconomics embedding the Mortensen and Pissarides framework of unemployment into an Aiyagari/Kydland/Prescott style DSGE model. An early example is the research by David Andolfatto in 1996. Interestingly, Noble Prize winner Paul R. Krugman's latest research with Gauti B. Eggertsson borrows from Aiyagari (they cite it) and is essentially a dynamic general equilibrium model, albeit with a very Keynesian flavor. Quiggin is really out of touch with modern economics. The trouble with Quiggin's book is that to the non-economist his little bit of knowledge will sound authoritative. Like an undergraduate's essay, many of the bits and pieces are indeed correct. But, also like many undergraduate essays, it shows little understanding about modern macroeconomic, just a superficial dropping of names and theories. Beloved Albert Einstein, a hero for scientists, didn't like quantum mechanics and argued against it. Perhaps it was because of the escalation of the mathematics required to understand the quantum world. Some people say that Einstein wasn't good at math. The mathematics in his papers is easy for a modern economist or physicist to understand--look them up on the web. Time has advanced mathematical training among scientists. Anyway, this was one battle Einstein lost. When Keynesians displaced the classical economists in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s the latter cried out about the mathematics (calculus and statistics) the former used. Keynesians, such as the Noble prize winners John R. Hicks, Lawrence R. Klein and Paul A. Samuelson, were at the forefront of technique in their day. And now it is the displaced Keynesian crying about the new math (dynamic programming, numerical analysis, stochastic processes) used by the neoclassical economists ushered in by the Kydland and Prescott revolution. Maybe the table will be reversed tomorrow. Who knows: if you could forecast this you could be a Noble Prize winner. This is the process of science: New ideas don't come ea
Matt-Bailey More than 1 year ago
I found this book both informative and well researched. Quiggin has done his homework when making the claims that he does. It can be rather dry at times, especially if you are not familir with a specific economic theory that he discusses.