A clear explication of how money flows from the nation’s central banking system into the larger economy.

21ST CENTURY MONETARY POLICY

THE FEDERAL RESERVE FROM THE GREAT INFLATION TO COVID-19

The former chair of the Federal Reserve examines how and why that organization works to control financial crises.

There is a large distinction between monetary policy, which concerns how targeted money can be used to strengthen an economy generally, and fiscal policy, which concerns where funds are spent—for example, the CARES Act promulgated during the pandemic to fund public health measures but also to support workers and businesses most harmed by the crisis. “Unlike monetary policy,” writes Bernanke, “which can be adjusted quickly as needed, government spending and tax policies are not as easy to change.” The Fed has considerably more leverage in applying money as a tool for economic stimulus and relief—though, the author points out, there is a large political dimension to that enterprise. For example, the Trump administration was markedly hostile to the use of the strategy called quantitative easing, or flooding sectors of the economy with money in order to keep lines of credit open to businesses and local governments. “The most basic requirement for economic efficiency is that the economy’s resources, including the labor force, be fully employed,” writes Bernanke, noting the challenges that occurred when the 2008 fiscal crisis sent unemployment skyrocketing—among them the challenge of inflation, about which the Fed must strike a delicate balance between too much and too little. “Monetary policies that promote economic recovery have broad benefits,” writes the author, and can also help curtail inequality. One strategy involves raising tax rates on capital gains, always unpopular among the millionaires in Congress. While the Fed can’t control the course of a pandemic, it can certainly respond nimbly to “economic trauma.” One doesn’t need a strong background in economics to follow Bernanke’s arguments, but such a background certainly helps.

A clear explication of how money flows from the nation’s central banking system into the larger economy.

Pub Date: May 17, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-324-02046-2

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: March 7, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2022

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A sweet-and-sour set of pieces on loss, absurdity, and places they intersect.

HAPPY-GO-LUCKY

Sedaris remains stubbornly irreverent even in the face of pandemic lockdowns and social upheaval.

In his previous collection of original essays, Calypso (2018), the author was unusually downbeat, fixated on aging and the deaths of his mother and sister. There’s bad news in this book, too—most notably, the death of his problematic and seemingly indestructible father at 96—but Sedaris generally carries himself more lightly. On a trip to a gun range, he’s puzzled by boxer shorts with a holster feature, which he wishes were called “gunderpants.” He plays along with nursing-home staffers who, hearing a funnyman named David is on the premises, think he’s Dave Chappelle. He’s bemused by his sister Amy’s landing a new apartment to escape her territorial pet rabbit. On tour, he collects sheaves of off-color jokes and tales of sexual self-gratification gone wrong. His relationship with his partner, Hugh, remains contentious, but it’s mellowing. (“After thirty years, sleeping is the new having sex.”) Even more serious stuff rolls off him. Of Covid-19, he writes that “more than eight hundred thousand people have died to date, and I didn’t get to choose a one of them.” The author’s support of Black Lives Matter is tempered by his interest in the earnest conscientiousness of organizers ensuring everyone is fed and hydrated. (He refers to one such person as a “snacktivist.”) Such impolitic material, though, puts serious essays in sharper, more powerful relief. He recalls fending off the flirtations of a 12-year-old boy in France, frustrated by the language barrier and other factors that kept him from supporting a young gay man. His father’s death unlocks a crushing piece about dad’s inappropriate, sexualizing treatment of his children. For years—chronicled in many books—Sedaris labored to elude his father’s criticism. Even in death, though, it proves hard to escape or laugh off.

A sweet-and-sour set of pieces on loss, absurdity, and places they intersect.

Pub Date: May 31, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-39245-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 11, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2022

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A scattershot exercise in preaching to the choir.

THE WAR ON THE WEST

A British journalist fulminates against Black Lives Matter, critical race theory, and other threats to White privilege.

“There is an assault going on against everything to do with the Western world—its past, present, and future.” So writes Spectator associate editor Murray, whose previous books have sounded warnings against the presumed dangers of Islam and of non-Western immigration to the West. As the author argues, Westerners are supposed to take in refugees from Africa, Asia, and Latin America while being “expected to abolish themselves.” Murray soon arrives at a crux: “Historically the citizens of Europe and their offspring societies in the Americas and Australasia have been white,” he writes, while the present is bringing all sorts of people who aren’t White into the social contract. The author also takes on the well-worn subject of campus “wokeness,” a topic of considerable discussion by professors who question whether things have gone a bit too far; indeed, the campus is the locus for much of the anti-Western sentiment that Murray condemns. The author’s arguments against reparations for past damages inflicted by institutionalized slavery are particularly glib. “It comes down to people who look like the people to whom a wrong was done in history receiving money from people who look like the people who may have done the wrong,” he writes. “It is hard to imagine anything more likely to rip apart a society than attempting a wealth transfer based on this principle.” Murray does attempt to negotiate some divides reasonably, arguing against “exclusionary lines” and for Henry Louis Gates Jr.’s call for a more vigorous and welcoming civil culture. Too often, however, the author falters, as when he derides Gen. Mark Milley for saying, “I want to understand white rage. And I’m white”—perhaps forgetting the climacteric White rage that Milley monitored on January 6, 2021.

A scattershot exercise in preaching to the choir.

Pub Date: April 26, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-316202-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Broadside Books/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2022

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