Myths of Rich and Poor
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Myths of Rich and Poor : Why We're Better off Than We Think

By (author) Michael W. Cox , By (author) Richard Alm

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Popular wisdom holds that the years since 1973--the end of the "postwar miracle"--have been a time of economic decline and stagnation: lackluster productivity, falling real wages, and lost competitiveness. The rich have gotten richer, the poor have gotten poorer, and most of us have barely held on while watching all the best jobs disappear overseas.As Myths of Rich and Poor demonstrates, this picture is not just wrong, it's spectacularly wrong. The hard numbers, simple facts, and iconoclastic arguments of this book will change the way you think about the American economy.

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  • Paperback | 272 pages
  • 124.46 x 200.66 x 17.78mm | 272.15g
  • 13 Jan 2000
  • The Perseus Books Group
  • BASIC BOOKS
  • New York
  • English
  • Revised ed.
  • 0465047831
  • 9780465047833
  • 1,367,426

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Author Information

W. Michael Cox is senior vice president and chief economist of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. He has written for The New York Times and was interviewed in Wired magazine; his annual reports for the Federal Reserve Bank are often controversial and receive nationwide publicity. Richard Alm is a business reporter with the Dallas Morning News.

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Review text

Cox, a Federal Reserve economist and adviser to the CATO institute, presents, with Dallas Morning News business reporter Aim, an aggressively rosy report on the nation's economy. I'm all right, Jack, and so are you, they say. Forget eroding living standards, foreign competition, rapacious CEOs, hedge fund crashes and endemic downsizing. Times, on the whole, have never been better, say the authors, and to prove it they offer a plenitude of charts, tables, statistics and figures. It is in the nature of capitalism that there are occasional disruptions - such as corporate downsizing - which they call "churning," but this is still the best economic system, they claim: "Layoffs aren't a sign of failure, not for the economy, not even for most workers." Layoffs take place beside job creation. That a midlevel manager fired from AT&T might, with luck, finally end up as a low-level associate at Wal-Mart is part of the chum, not part of "the hard numbers that define broad trends, averages, medians, per capita figures and rates of change." Good times, the numbers say, are here. We have more money than ever. We spend more for stuff (like VCRs, health care, and stealth bombers) and we spend more time at leisure. In the triumph of capitalism, minorities and women are doing better, too. As we change from a labor to a service economy, technology is improving life faster than ever. Don't mess with success, the authors say. Just protect property rights, keep taxes low, and eschew more regulation. There are, though, some unasked questions. Yesterday Standard Oil had to be dismembered; would a merger of Exxon and Mobil be a good thing today? Will the next decades be like the past 20 years or is something fundamental changing? Never mind. Just look at the numbers. Pangloss and Pollyanna tackle what Carlyle once called "the Dismal Science" in a polemic sure to attract dissent. (Kirkus Reviews)

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