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Agenda for a New Economy: From Phantom Wealth to Real Wealth

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Agenda for a New Economy: From Phantom Wealth to Real Wealth Cover

ISBN13: 9781605092898
ISBN10: 1605092894
Condition: Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Today's economic crisis is the worst since the Great Depression. However, as David Korten shows, the steps being taken to address it — including pouring trillions of dollars into bailouts for the Wall Street institutions that created the mess — do nothing to deal with the reality of a failed economic system. It's like treating cancer with band aids. And the financial collapse now in the public spotlight is only the tip of the iceberg. The system's social and environmental failures may ultimately be even more destructive.

Korten identifies the deeper sources of the failure: Wall Street institutions that have perfected the art of creating phantom "wealth" without producing anything of real value. Its major players engage in speculative trading, buy into asset bubbles, create debt pyramids, and engage in predatory lending practices. Their seeming success created an economic mirage that led us to believe the economy was expanding exponentially, even as our economic, social, and natural capital eroded and most people struggled ever harder to make ends meet.

Our hope lies not with Wall Street, Korten argues, but with Main Street, which creates real wealth from real resources to meet real needs. He outlines an agenda to liberate the latent entrepreneurial energies of Main Street from Wall Street's deadly grip and bring into being a new economy — locally based, community-oriented, and devoted to creating a better life for all, not simply increasing profits. It will require courageous and imaginative changes to how we measure economic success, organize our financial system, even the very way we create money. Korten outlines a challenging, but practical agenda summarized at the end of the book in his version of the economic address to the nation he wishes Barack Obama were able to deliver.

Korten's intention is not to offer final answers, but rather to provoke discussion of options that powerful interests prefer not be mentioned. These interests devised the system that has brought us to the brink of ruin. It's time to turn away from the Wall Street system of phantom wealth and return to an economy firmly rooted in the long-term health of people and the planet.

Review:

"The most important book to emerge thus far on the economic crisis. David Korten provides real solutions." Peter Barnes, cofounder of Working Assets and author of Capitalism 3.0

Review:

"At last, a book by one of our most brilliant economic thinkers that outlines the real causes of — and solutions to — the current economic crisis! David Korten has devoted his professional life to analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of the global economic system. Now he draws on his extensive knowledge to inspire us, we the people, to take actions that will create a more just and sustainable world for ourselves and future generations." John Perkins, New York Times bestselling author of Confessions of an Economic Hit Man

Synopsis:

Today's economic crisis is the worst since the Great Depression. However, as David Korten shows, the steps being taken to address it do nothing to deal with the reality of a failed economic system. It's like treating cancer with a bandage. Korten identifies the deeper sources of the failure: Wall Street institutions that have perfected the art of creating "wealth" without producing anything of real value: phantom wealth. Our hope lies not with Wall Street, Korten argues, but with Main Street, which creates real wealth from real resources to meet real needs. He outlines an agenda to create a new economy-- locally based, community oriented, and devoted to creating a better life for all, not simply increasing profits. It will require changes to how we measure economic success, organize our financial system, even the very way we create money, an agenda Korten summarizes in his version of the economic address to the nation he wishes Barack Obama were able to deliver.

About the Author

Dr. David C. Korten is a co-founder and board chair of the Positive Futures Network, which publishes YES! A Journal of Positive Futures; founder and president of the People-Centered Development Forum; an associate of the International Forum on Globalization; a member of the Club of Rome; and serves on the boards of the Business Alliance for Local Living Economics and the Bainbridge Graduate Institute. He has authored or edited numerous books, including When Corporations Rule the World, The Post-Corporate World, and Globalizing Civil Society.

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OneMansView, February 17, 2009 (view all comments by OneMansView)
Interesting, but fanciful

This book, by the author’s admission, was hastily put together to provide commentary on the collapse of Wall St in the Fall of 2008 and the subsequent federal bailout and to advocate for a dramatic shift to a real wealth economy. It is indisputable that collectively Wall St created a massive financial asset bubble, or “phantom wealth,” based on a huge pyramid of debt created by inter-firm lending and the selling of securities based on either nonexistent or questionable assets. Most can agree that it is simply unconscionable that the top fifty investment managers raked off fees of $30 billion in 2007 alone, as though their actions were entirely legitimate. It’s hard to disagree that Wall St in its current operational mode is basically a criminal syndicate. But is the author’s call for the elimination of Wall St, rather than propping it up and altering it, more fanciful than realistic?

The author provides no estimates of the costs to tens of millions of average people who have been forced to create retirement portfolios in 401k accounts if Wall St is shut down. He dismisses those writers and economists who advocate for the re-regulation of the financial sector, although he recognizes the benefits of regulation in the decade of the 1950s.

The author’s mission is far more than to criticize Wall St. Following on his previous work; he decries the fact that corporations, in their new globalized form, have become so powerful that they literally shape our lives. Corporations pushed for so-called free-trade agreements, which in actuality was a means to hollow out our manufacturing base, while shipping millions of jobs overseas. It is corporations that fight against environmental regulations, preferring to pass the impact of their products and production on to the rest of us. It’s not as though the citizens of this nation agree that those are beneficial developments.

But again, is this not a failure of regulation? Enforceable labor and environmental standards could have been a part of trade agreements. Mileage and emissions standards could have been set and enforced after the first oil crisis in 1975. The FDA could have the power to really protect us against harmful medications and contaminated food. Much of the power of corporations is political, achieved primarily through contributions and lobbying. However, the notion that a corporation is a “person” with political rights is totally absurd. Only real people should participate in a democracy, not artificial entities. Shutting corporations out of direct participation in the political process would have huge and immediate consequences.

The author essentially wants to break up huge corporations and return to a “real-wealth” economy where businesses are locally owned and operated. Real-wealth, in the author’s way of thinking, “is a healthy, fulfilling life; healthy, happy children; loving families; and a caring community within a beautiful, healthy natural environment. It … affirms our inherent worth and service. It is a peaceful world.” A real-wealth economy is sustainable: resource depletion and environmental degradation are foremost concerns. Furthermore, such an economy and way of life are something that “we” all want.

However, the author makes no attempt to assess the existence of the social harmony and wisdom that would be required to drastically revamp our way of life. In fact, a strong case could be made for the diminishment of said characteristics over the last thirty years. The rise of the Republican greed society has occurred with the tacit approval of a huge portion of society, regardless of how that may be rationalized. It appears that the new President’s room to maneuver in this environment is highly limited. How much change is really wanted?

The author has a “12-Point New Economy Agenda.” A lot of it has appeal, but to enact any of it will require the political will and power of the general public. Instead of permitting corporations to essentially exist in perpetuity, their charters should be subject to revocation on clear indications of public disservice. We need to restore our economic sovereignty by rational trade policies. Workers should be empowered within firms to participate in decisions impacting them and the community, as well as the enterprise. Of course, the vast disparities in wealth and income need to be addressed if a real sense of community is to be achieved. Contrary to the author, Wall St and corporations, sufficiently regulated, can fit in an economy where citizens have the upper hand.

Certainly, most of us share in the author’s alarm that our economic institutions, as well as a government controlled by those entities, are creating an unsustainable and unpleasant future for most of us. But this book, other than pointing out Wall St and corporate excesses and wishing for a more people-friendly future, provides no help in describing a path by which we can get from a society dominated by a self-interested, wealthy social layer to one where the average person can expect a life-enhancing future.
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denisaf, February 17, 2009 (view all comments by denisaf)
The real material wealth of our civilization has been build up by irreversibly using natural wealth - the goods and services available from the environment - under the control of the knowledge and skills of the community. That is, the temporary material wealth of civilization has been built up by degrading the natural wealth. The available natural wealth is now becoming scarce. The economy is now contracting and the unsustainable real wealth of society is declining.
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rkd993, February 4, 2009 (view all comments by rkd993)
Korton's latest book and H S Dent's "The Great Depression Ahead" should both be **mandatory** reading for all economists, commentators and politicians. We cannot solve problems of this magnitude if we continue to mis-define it, look at symptoms rather than causes (e.g., credit industry rather than US flat wages since 1985), and look at simplistic models rather than the complex systems which drive world and national economic (and associated) systems. Korton was, so to speak, "on the money" about the risks of unbridled/unregulated corporations, greedy CEOs, greedy shareholders and governments without the nerve to regulate what are clearly irresponsible behaviours.

Korten and Dent both point to fundamentals that need to be considered and put into proper perspective, both historical and systems.

Korten gave us a good "heads up notice" with his "When Corportations Rule the World" pity most didn't pay attention! Maybe this time more will listen. Read both books...NOW! Tell your friends, tell your politicians, tell your news sources, write about it in your blogs and Facebook, MySpace and Twitter. One of the key differences today from the 1930s is the modern internet and the ability of Korton's "Main Street" to speak up and out! Be part of the solution.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9781605092898
Subtitle:
From Phantom Wealth to Real Wealth
Author:
Korten, David C.
Author:
Korten, David C.
Publisher:
Berrett-Koehler Publishers
Subject:
Personal Finance - General
Subject:
Sustainable Development
Subject:
Financial crises
Subject:
Financial crises -- United States.
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade Paper
Publication Date:
20090201
Binding:
Paperback
Language:
English
Pages:
196
Dimensions:
8.42x5.56x.64 in. .62 lbs.

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Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Economics » General
History and Social Science » Economics » US Economy

Agenda for a New Economy: From Phantom Wealth to Real Wealth Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$7.50 In Stock
Product details 196 pages Berrett-Koehler Publishers - English 9781605092898 Reviews:
"Review" by , "The most important book to emerge thus far on the economic crisis. David Korten provides real solutions."
"Review" by , "At last, a book by one of our most brilliant economic thinkers that outlines the real causes of — and solutions to — the current economic crisis! David Korten has devoted his professional life to analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of the global economic system. Now he draws on his extensive knowledge to inspire us, we the people, to take actions that will create a more just and sustainable world for ourselves and future generations."
"Synopsis" by ,
Today's economic crisis is the worst since the Great Depression. However, as David Korten shows, the steps being taken to address it do nothing to deal with the reality of a failed economic system. It's like treating cancer with a bandage. Korten identifies the deeper sources of the failure: Wall Street institutions that have perfected the art of creating "wealth" without producing anything of real value: phantom wealth. Our hope lies not with Wall Street, Korten argues, but with Main Street, which creates real wealth from real resources to meet real needs. He outlines an agenda to create a new economy-- locally based, community oriented, and devoted to creating a better life for all, not simply increasing profits. It will require changes to how we measure economic success, organize our financial system, even the very way we create money, an agenda Korten summarizes in his version of the economic address to the nation he wishes Barack Obama were able to deliver.
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