by Mariana Mazzucato ‧ RELEASE DATE: Sept. 11, 2018
An accessible academic treatise worth understanding.
A British economics professor is debunking again; this time, her target is the conventional wisdom that so-called wealth creators deserve to accumulate massive riches.
In the consequential battle of perception between the makers and the takers, Mazzucato (Economics of Innovation and Public Value/Univ. Coll. London; The Entrepreneurial State: Debunking Public vs. Private Sector Myths, 2015) sides with the actual makers, those who struggle in an economy tilted in favor of the ultrawealthy. The author mixes easily accessible lay language with technical jargon as she constructs her case that investment bankers, multinational pharmaceutical companies, and other billion-dollar enterprises—as well as small tech startups—actually create little of societal value but reap outsized benefits. Meanwhile, laborers continue to be shortchanged. The result is widespread income inequality. As Mazzucato builds her argument, she expresses specific incredulity about the banking sector’s self-serving statements about wealth creation. As recently as the 1970s, the author maintains, economists viewed financial institutions as merely transferring existing wealth rather than creating new wealth. The shift in emphasis caught on quickly, and suddenly, bankers were perceived as wealth creators. “If we cannot differentiate value creation from value extraction,” writes the author, “it becomes nearly impossible to reward the former over the latter.” She wants to convince those in power that so-called value-creating entities should be viewed as value-extracting entities and thus regulated accordingly. When Mazzucato cites specific corporations and individuals feeding at the trough of income inequality, readers will be able to see through the abstractions and grasp the theories dividing economists. She is especially eloquent when commenting on arrogant tech-giant billionaires such as Peter Thiel, who claims that his wealth accumulation occurred in spite of, rather than because of, government presence. Mazzucato characterizes the statements of Thiel and his ilk as “entrepreneurs good, government bad.” Actually, the author argues, national, state, and local government agencies offer countless incentives to corporate employers.An accessible academic treatise worth understanding.
Pub Date: Sept. 11, 2018
Page Count: 384
Review Posted Online: May 27, 2018
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2018
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by Ta-Nehisi Coates ‧ RELEASE DATE: July 8, 2015
This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”
Awards & Accolades
Best Books Of 2015
New York Times Bestseller
National Book Award Winner
Pulitzer Prize Finalist
The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.
Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”
Pub Date: July 8, 2015
Page Count: 176
Publisher: Spiegel & Grau
Review Posted Online: May 5, 2015
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015
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Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.
“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
Page Count: 432
Review Posted Online: Aug. 28, 2019
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019
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