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THE PRICE OF INEQUALITY by Joseph E. Stiglitz Kirkus Star


How Today's Divided Society Endangers Our Future

by Joseph E. Stiglitz

Pub Date: June 11th, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-393-08869-4
Publisher: Norton

From one of the world's leading economists, a political call to action in defense of equality and human rights.

Nobel laureate Stiglitz (Economics/Columbia Univ.; Freefall: America, Free Markets and the Sinking of the World Economy, 2010, etc.) insists that increasing inequality in the United States stems from a breakdown of the country's political and economic systems. The failure to hold any banker accountable for actions that contributed to the recent economic crisis is a prime symptom of the case. The current level of inequality, writes the author, “increases instability, reduces productivity, and undermines democracy.” Stiglitz concedes that there is merit in the arguments of those who point to the effects of technology, greed or the absence of bank regulation as contributing factors, and he agrees that corrective measures are needed. He goes further, arguing that inequality is a by-product of the ability to exploit consumers through monopoly power, and borrowers through shady practices. He shows that the consequences include a monopolistic redistribution powerful enough to have caused massive distortions in the U.S. financial system. This is still not the deeper problem, however. More fundamentally, people underestimate the problem of inequality; as a result, they fail to perceive the changes that are already underway. Stiglitz presents the situation as “the bigger battle over perceptions and over big ideas,” a battle being fought through persuasion, framing, misrepresentation and obfuscation. Changing course requires winning this battle for truth. In this way, he argues, equality, the rule of law and accountability can be reestablished.

An impassioned argument backed by rigorous economic analysis.