Freefall: America, Free Markets, and the Sinking of the World Economy

Freefall: America, Free Markets, and the Sinking of the World Economy

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By (author) Joseph E. Stiglitz

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  • Publisher: WW Norton & Co
  • Format: Paperback | 480 pages
  • Dimensions: 140mm x 203mm x 30mm | 386g
  • Publication date: 1 November 2010
  • Publication City/Country: New York
  • ISBN 10: 0393338959
  • ISBN 13: 9780393338959
  • Edition statement: Reprint
  • Sales rank: 47,457

Product description

The Great Recession, as it has come to be called, has impacted more people worldwide than any crisis since the Great Depression. Flawed government policy and unscrupulous personal and corporate behavior in the United States created the current financial meltdown, which was exported across the globe with devastating consequences. The crisis has sparked an essential debate about America's economic missteps, the soundness of this country's economy, and even the appropriate shape of a capitalist system. Few are more qualified to comment during this turbulent time than Joseph E. Stiglitz. Winner of the 2001 Nobel Prize in Economics, Stiglitz is "an insanely great economist, in ways you can't really appreciate unless you're deep into the field" (Paul Krugman, New York Times). In Freefall, Stiglitz traces the origins of the Great Recession, eschewing easy answers and demolishing the contention that America needs more billion-dollar bailouts and free passes to those "too big to fail," while also outlining the alternatives and revealing that even now there are choices ahead that can make a difference. The system is broken, and we can only fix it by examining the underlying theories that have led us into this new "bubble capitalism." Ranging across a host of topics that bear on the crisis, Stiglitz argues convincingly for a restoration of the balance between government and markets. America as a nation faces huge challenges-in health care, energy, the environment, education, and manufacturing-and Stiglitz penetratingly addresses each in light of the newly emerging global economic order. An ongoing war of ideas over the most effective type of capitalist system, as well as a rebalancing of global economic power, is shaping that order. The battle may finally give the lie to theories of a "rational" market or to the view that America's global economic dominance is inevitable and unassailable. For anyone watching with indignation while a reckless Wall Street destroyed homes, educations, and jobs; while the government took half-steps hoping for a "just-enough" recovery; and while bankers fell all over themselves claiming not to have seen what was coming, then sought government bailouts while resisting regulation that would make future crises less likely, Freefall offers a clear accounting of why so many Americans feel disillusioned today and how we can realize a prosperous economy and a moral society for the future.

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Author information

Joseph E. Stiglitz received his PhD from MIT in 1967, became a full professor at Yale in 1970, and was awarded the John Bates Clark Award in 1979, which is given biennially by the American Economic Association to an economist under 40 who has made the most significant contribution to the field. He has taught at Princeton, Stanford, and MIT, and was the Drummond Professor and a fellow of All Souls College, Oxford. He is now a professor at Columbia University and co-chair of Columbia University's Committee on Global Thought. He is also the co-founder and co-president of the Initiative for Policy Dialogue at Columbia. In 2001, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in economics for his analyses of markets with asymmetric information, and was a lead author of the 1995 Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. In 2011, Time named Professor Stiglitz one of the 100 most influential people in the world. Professor Stiglitz was a member of the Council of Economic Advisers from 1993-95, during the Clinton administration, and served as its chairman from 1995-97. He then became chief economist and senior vice president of the World Bank from 1997-2000. In 2008, he was asked by the French President Nicolas Sarkozy to chair the Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress, which released its final report in September 2009. In 2009, he was appointed by the President of the United Nations General Assembly as chair of the Commission of Experts on Reform of the International Financial and Monetary System, which also released its report in September 2009. Professor Stiglitz helped create a new branch of economics-The Economics of Information-exploring the consequences of information asymmetries and pioneering such pivotal concepts as adverse selection and moral hazard, which have now become standard tools not only for theorists but also for policy analysts. He has made major contributions to the theories of welfare economics and of income and wealth distribution, and his work has helped explain the circumstances in which markets do not work well and how selective government intervention can improve market performance. Recognized around the world as a leading economic educator, Professor Stiglitz has written books that have been translated into more than a dozen languages. He also founded one of the leading economics journals, The Journal of Economic Perspectives. His book, Globalization and Its Discontents (Norton, 2001), has been translated into 35 languages and has sold more than a million copies worldwide. Other recent books include The Roaring Nineties (Norton); Towards a New Paradigm in Monetary Economics (Cambridge University Press), with Bruce Greenwald; Fair Trade for All (Oxford University Press), with Andrew Charlton; Making Globalization Work (Norton and Penguin/ Allen Lane, 2006); The Three Trillion Dollar War: The True Cost of the Iraq Conflict (Norton and Penguin/ Allen Lane, 2008), with Linda Bilmes at Harvard University; Freefall: America, Free Markets, and the Sinking of the World Economy (Norton and Penguin/ Allen Lane, 2010); and The Price of Inequality: How Today's Divided Society Endangers Our Future (Norton and Penguin/ Allen Lane, 2012).

Review quote

"Mr. Stiglitz uses his experience teaching to give the lay reader a lucid account of how overleveraged banks, a shoddy mortgage industry, predatory lending and unregulated trading contributed to the meltdown, and how, in his opinion, ill-conceived rescue efforts may have halted the freefall but have failed to grapple with more fundamental problems... His prescience lends credibility to his trenchant analysis of the causes of the fiscal meltdown." -- Michiko Kakutani "Asks some basic and provocative questions... Freefall is a must-read for anyone seeking to understand the roots of the financial crisis. Stiglitz brilliantly analyzes the economic reasons behind the banking collapse, but he goes much further, digging down to the wrongheaded national faith in the power of free markets to regulate themselves and provide wealth for all." -- Chuck Leddy "As a Nobel Prize winner, member of the cabinet under former President Bill Clinton and chairman of his Council of Economic Advisers, Joseph E. Stiglitz has some practical ideas on how to ease the pain of the Great Recession and maybe help prevent the next one." -- Carl Hartman "Freefall is a spirited attack on Wall Street, the free market and the Washington consensus." -- David Smith "This is the best book so far on the financial crisis. Joseph Stiglitz ... is knowledgeable about the historical background, immersed in the policy debate and a pioneer of the economic theories needed to understand the origins of the problems."