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How Markets Failby John Cassidy
Synopses & Reviews
Behind the alarming headlines about job losses, bank bailouts, and corporate greed is a little-known story of bad ideas. For fifty years or more, economists have been busy developing elegant theories of how markets workhow they facilitate innovation, wealth creation, and an efficient allocation of societys resources. But what about when markets dont work? What about when they lead to stock market bubbles, glaring inequality, polluted rivers, real estate crashes, and credit crunches?
In How Markets Fail, John Cassidy describes the rising influence of what he calls utopian economicsthinking that is blind to how real people act and that denies the many ways an unregulated free market can produce disastrous unintended consequences. He then looks to the leading edge of economic theory, including behavioral economics, to offer a new understanding of the economyone that casts aside the old assumption that people and firms make decisions purely on the basis of rational self-interest. Taking the global financial crisis and current recession as his starting point, Cassidy explores a world in which everybody is connected and social contagion is the norm. In such an environment, he shows, individual behavioral biases and kinksoverconfidence, envy, copycat behavior, and myopiaoften give rise to troubling macroeconomic phenomena, such as oil price spikes, CEO greed cycles, and boom-and-bust waves in the housing market. These are the inevitable outcomes of what Cassidy refers to as “rational irrationality”self-serving behavior in a modern market setting.
Combining on-the-ground reporting, clear explanations of esoteric economic theories, and even a little crystal-ball gazing, Cassidy warns that in todays economic crisis, conforming to antiquated orthodoxies isnt just misguidedits downright dangerous. How Markets Fail offers a new, enlightening way to understand the force of the irrational in our volatile global economy.
For fifty years, economists have been developing elegant theories or how markets facilitate innovation, create wealth, and allocate society's resources efficiently. But what about when they fail, when they lead us to stock market bubbles, glaring inequality, polluted rivers, and credit crunches? In How Markets Fail, John Cassidy describes the rising influence of “utopian economies”—the thinking that is blind to how real people act and that denies the many ways an unregulated free market can bring on disaster. Combining on-the-ground reporting and clear explanations of economic theories Cassidy warns that in todays economic crisis, following old orthodoxies isnt just misguided—its downright dangerous.
About the Author
John Cassidy is a journalist at The New Yorker and a frequent contributor to The New York Review of Books. He is the author of Dot.con: How America Lost Its Mind and
Money in the Internet Era and lives in New York City.
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