Solid reading for students of economic development and global economics.

THE BILLIONAIRE RAJ

A JOURNEY THROUGH INDIA'S NEW GILDED AGE

A report from the front lines of inequality and corruption in India, one of the world’s rising economies.

It’s not the Taj Mahal, but it’s got two-thirds of the floor space of Versailles—and on a footprint of just an acre. Former Financial Times Mumbai bureau chief Crabtree considers the Mumbai apartment tower built by billionaire Mukesh Ambani to be the pre-eminent symbol of “the power of India’s new elite,” one that pointedly emphasizes the sharp divide between rich and poor in the country—and indeed, the divide between the merely rich and the superrich. The creation of a class of hyperwealthy commoners owes at least in some measure to domestic economic reforms meant to advance a free market but that, instead, in combination with modernization and globalization, ushered in an era of staggering corruption, with the government machinery simply unable to keep up with a wave of crony capitalism. “The 1991 reforms,” writes the author, gave “Indians a taste of a new world of mobile phones, multi-channel television and foreign consumer goods.” They also inaugurated an enthusiasm for globalization that is largely unmatched; most Indians, Crabtree asserts, are all for it. However, support for globalization does not necessarily mean support for the greatest beneficiaries of it; anti-corruption campaigns are increasingly commonplace. Yet state apparatus is too inefficient to do much about it. As Crabtree notes, there are so many layers of bureaucracy that a would-be entrepreneur has to negotiate that it’s only natural for a businessperson to try “to strike a deal towards the top of the decision-making chain.” Corruption has not moderated under the “big-government conservative” Narendra Modi, who, Crabtree foresees, will in his second term yield to the temptation to substitute nationalism for economic reform, following the path set by Putin in Russia and Erdogan in Turkey. Even so, writes the author, it is not inevitable that India become “a saffron-tinged version of Russia.”

Solid reading for students of economic development and global economics.

Pub Date: July 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6006-9

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Tim Duggan Books/Crown

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

GOOD ECONOMICS FOR HARD TIMES

“Quality of life means more than just consumption”: Two MIT economists urge that a smarter, more politically aware economics be brought to bear on social issues.

It’s no secret, write Banerjee and Duflo (co-authors: Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way To Fight Global Poverty, 2011), that “we seem to have fallen on hard times.” Immigration, trade, inequality, and taxation problems present themselves daily, and they seem to be intractable. Economics can be put to use in figuring out these big-issue questions. Data can be adduced, for example, to answer the question of whether immigration tends to suppress wages. The answer: “There is no evidence low-skilled migration to rich countries drives wage and employment down for the natives.” In fact, it opens up opportunities for those natives by freeing them to look for better work. The problem becomes thornier when it comes to the matter of free trade; as the authors observe, “left-behind people live in left-behind places,” which explains why regional poverty descended on Appalachia when so many manufacturing jobs left for China in the age of globalism, leaving behind not just left-behind people but also people ripe for exploitation by nationalist politicians. The authors add, interestingly, that the same thing occurred in parts of Germany, Spain, and Norway that fell victim to the “China shock.” In what they call a “slightly technical aside,” they build a case for addressing trade issues not with trade wars but with consumption taxes: “It makes no sense to ask agricultural workers to lose their jobs just so steelworkers can keep theirs, which is what tariffs accomplish.” Policymakers might want to consider such counsel, especially when it is coupled with the observation that free trade benefits workers in poor countries but punishes workers in rich ones.

Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-61039-950-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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