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THE END OF AFFLUENCE

THE CAUSES AND CONSEQUENCES OF AMERICA'S ECONOMIC DILEMMA

Madrick looks into the vast vessel that is the US economy and pronounces it half emptyand draining. In reiterating the declinist view of America's future, the veteran financial journalist zeroes in on the problems presumably caused by the sluggish pace of domestic economic growth (2.3% per annum) and stagnant state of productivity improvements (about 1%) since 1973. Prior to that year, annual gains in GDP averaged 3.4% and productivity forged ahead at a 2% rate. This more measured pace of economic advance has curtailed the nation's capacity to meet its social/welfare commitments, to remain competitive in key commercial/industrial markets throughout the world, and to keep personal income and living standards on an upward track. Further, he points out, inflation-adjusted losses in the domestic output of goods and services from 1973 to 1993 aggregated $12 trillion. To put the impact of contemporary shortfalls in clearer perspective, Madrick offers a brisk overview of the postCivil War era, when US business and wages were expanding at a healthy clip, thanks in large measure to the economies of scale achieved by mass production and mass merchandising. These, he asserts, not only helped fragment once-homogeneous outlets but also intensified mercantile rivalries and made it appreciably easier for start-up enterprises to enter hitherto closed markets. Despite the convulsive shift in its fortunes, the author warns, the American populace remains unwarrantedly optimistic about the shape of things to come. Brief allusions to higher taxes, shared sacrifice, income maintenance, and deficit reduction apart, Madrick makes no attempt to consider ways out of the socioeconomic fix in which he perceives the US. Withal, the author insists, the citizenry had best put paid to any comforting notion that self-reliance, rugged individualism, and other classic virtues guarantee ever brighter tomorrows. A credible worst-case evaluation of what slower economic growth has and could cost the American polity if the nation fails to regain its historic momentum.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-679-43623-5

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1995

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THINKING, FAST AND SLOW

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our...

A psychologist and Nobel Prize winner summarizes and synthesizes the recent decades of research on intuition and systematic thinking.

The author of several scholarly texts, Kahneman (Emeritus Psychology and Public Affairs/Princeton Univ.) now offers general readers not just the findings of psychological research but also a better understanding of how research questions arise and how scholars systematically frame and answer them. He begins with the distinction between System 1 and System 2 mental operations, the former referring to quick, automatic thought, the latter to more effortful, overt thinking. We rely heavily, writes, on System 1, resorting to the higher-energy System 2 only when we need or want to. Kahneman continually refers to System 2 as “lazy”: We don’t want to think rigorously about something. The author then explores the nuances of our two-system minds, showing how they perform in various situations. Psychological experiments have repeatedly revealed that our intuitions are generally wrong, that our assessments are based on biases and that our System 1 hates doubt and despises ambiguity. Kahneman largely avoids jargon; when he does use some (“heuristics,” for example), he argues that such terms really ought to join our everyday vocabulary. He reviews many fundamental concepts in psychology and statistics (regression to the mean, the narrative fallacy, the optimistic bias), showing how they relate to his overall concerns about how we think and why we make the decisions that we do. Some of the later chapters (dealing with risk-taking and statistics and probabilities) are denser than others (some readers may resent such demands on System 2!), but the passages that deal with the economic and political implications of the research are gripping.

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our minds.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-374-27563-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

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THE CULTURE MAP

BREAKING THROUGH THE INVISIBLE BOUNDARIES OF GLOBAL BUSINESS

These are not hard and fast rules, but Meyer delivers important reading for those engaged in international business.

A helpful guide to working effectively with people from other cultures.

“The sad truth is that the vast majority of managers who conduct business internationally have little understanding about how culture is impacting their work,” writes Meyer, a professor at INSEAD, an international business school. Yet they face a wider array of work styles than ever before in dealing with clients, suppliers and colleagues from around the world. When is it best to speak or stay quiet? What is the role of the leader in the room? When working with foreign business people, failing to take cultural differences into account can lead to frustration, misunderstanding or worse. Based on research and her experiences teaching cross-cultural behaviors to executive students, the author examines a handful of key areas. Among others, they include communicating (Anglo-Saxons are explicit; Asians communicate implicitly, requiring listeners to read between the lines), developing a sense of trust (Brazilians do it over long lunches), and decision-making (Germans rely on consensus, Americans on one decider). In each area, the author provides a “culture map scale” that positions behaviors in more than 20 countries along a continuum, allowing readers to anticipate the preferences of individuals from a particular country: Do they like direct or indirect negative feedback? Are they rigid or flexible regarding deadlines? Do they favor verbal or written commitments? And so on. Meyer discusses managers who have faced perplexing situations, such as knowledgeable team members who fail to speak up in meetings or Indians who offer a puzzling half-shake, half-nod of the head. Cultural differences—not personality quirks—are the motivating factors behind many behavioral styles. Depending on our cultures, we understand the world in a particular way, find certain arguments persuasive or lacking merit, and consider some ways of making decisions or measuring time natural and others quite strange.

These are not hard and fast rules, but Meyer delivers important reading for those engaged in international business.

Pub Date: May 27, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-61039-250-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2014

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