Books by Jr. Malabre

Released: Nov. 15, 1993

A damp but thoroughgoing and often illuminating chronicle of competing economic theories from the 1960's through the early 1990's, by veteran Wall Street Journal economics editor Malabre (Within Our Means, 1990, etc.). Malabre offers a chronicle of a profession in increasing disarray. From the sedate confidence of die-hard 1960's Keynesians such as Paul Samuelson, an advisor to Presidents Kennedy and Johnson, through the growth of the influential, self-promoting group of monetarists led by Milton Friedman in the 1970's, to supply-siders such as Arthur B. Laffer under Reagan, Malabre argues that economists' ability to predict—let alone control—the course of American business activity has steadily deteriorated even as economists have grown in number and stature. Measured by the ability to forecast employment, profits, growth, inflation, and recession—or the effect of floating exchange rates, tax policy, deficit spending, or the money supply on any of the above—Arthur Burns beats Alan Greenspan every time. Much technical analysis of post-WW II economic trends (for example, monitoring the effects on currencies and international trade of the abandonment in 1971 of the Bretton Woods agreement on fixed exchange rates) fills out the author's report, leavened by amusing tales from his long acquaintance with economists of every stripe (at one point, Malabre runs into a Federal Reserve Bank governor in a London topless bar). Malabre ends by resuscitating the theory of the business cycle: For serious readers. (First printing of 20,000) Read full book review >
Released: Jan. 24, 1990

Another dour audit of the credit-dependent domestic economy from a Wall Street Journal editor whose 1987 jeremiad (Beyond Our Means) has proved regrettably prophetic. Three years ago, Malabre warned that free-spending Americans and their government were living on borrowed time—and money. Despite a prolonged recovery/expansion, he now points out, total debt outstanding at the start of 1990 topped 180% of GNP, a level not reached since the 1930's, when business activity was contracting. The yearly interest rate on federal obligations alone exceeds $300 billion, about the size of recent Pentagon budgets. By his painstakingly documented account, moreover, trends remain unpropitious in capital investment, compensation, education, health care, productivity, research, savings, trade, welfare, and allied areas; there's also a dollar-draining S&L bailout to manage, and the cold war's so-called peace dividend is, momentarily at least, being spent "somewheres east of Suez." On the plus side, the author argues that the US has a wealth of ways and the will to overcome its socioeconomic woes. For openers, he proposes revision of the Internal Revenue Code, including a hike in the peak marginal income-tax rate, elimination of certain deductions, and imposition of a national sales levy. Spending cuts figure prominently on Malabre's reform agenda as well. Farm subsidies, entitlement schemes that mainly benefit the middle class, the Export-Import Bank, Israel, the SBA, and overly expensive weapons systems are but a few of the possible targets he identifies. In the meantime, the author insists, elected officials must provide more forthright and bolder leadership if the US is to meet the challenges to its prosperity posed by the leveraged legacy of the recent past. An eleventh-hour alert that offers a chilling and tellingly detailed worst-case scenario for the wages of profligacy. Read full book review >