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The Economists' Hour

The Economists' Hour

False Prophets, Free Markets, and the Fracture of Society

In this fascinating character-driven history, a New York Times editorial writer and Pulitzer Prize finalist spotlights the American economists who championed the rise of markets and fundamentally reshaped the modern world.

Before the 1960s, American politicians had never paid much attention to economists. But as the post-World War II boom began to sputter, economists gained influence and power — first in the United States and then around the world as their ideas inspired nations to curb government, unleash corporations, and hasten globalization.

Milton Friedman’s libertarian ideals, Arthur Laffer’s supply-side economics and Paul Volcker’s austere campaign against inflation all left a profound mark on American life. So did lesser-known figures like Walter Oi, a blind economist whose calculations influenced President Nixon’s decision to end military conscription; Alfred Kahn, who deregulated air travel; and Thomas Schelling, who put a dollar value on human life.

The economists promised steady growth and broadly-shared prosperity, but they failed to deliver. Instead, the single-minded embrace of markets has come at the expense of soaring economic inequality, the faltering health of liberal democracy, and the prospects of future generations.

Timely, engaging, and expertly researched, The Economists’ Hour is a “powerful must-read” (Mohamed A. El-Erian, New York Times bestselling author) about the rise and fall of a revolution-and a compelling call for people to retake control of markets.

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Genre: Nonfiction / Political Science / Political Economy

On Sale: September 3rd 2019

Price: $15.99 / $19.99 (CAD)

Page Count: 448

ISBN-13: 9780316512275

What's Inside

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Reader Reviews

Praise

"Appelbaum presents a series of persuasive recommendations... If policy makers want ordinary Americans to appreciate the benefits of open trade, they must ensure that displaced workers have access to training and health care. Because some interest groups are weaker than others, government should correct the double standard by which the power of labor unions is regarded with antipathy but the power of business monopolies is tolerated. Well-heeled professional cartels, such as associations of real-estate agents who extract 6 percent commissions from hapless home sellers, should be eyed with suspicion. Progressives should look for ways to be pro-competition but anti-inequality."—Sebastian Mallaby, The Atlantic
"The New York Times financial writer maps the advance of economists-from the Kennedy administration onward-out of the academy and into government, elevating free markets in the sausage-making of public policy and sparking the inequity that plagues us today."—O Magazine
"This thoroughly researched, comprehensive, and critical account of the economic philosophies that have reigned for the past half century powerfully indicts them."—Publisher Weekly (starred)
"Writing in accessible language of thorny fiscal matters, the author ventures into oddly fascinating corners of recent economic history...Anyone who wonders why government officials still take the Laffer curve seriously need go no further than this lucid book."—Kirkus
"I very much enjoyed reading The Economists' Hour, an entertaining and well-written look at how market-oriented ideas rose from the academy and transformed nations. I do not agree with each and every perspective, but found this a valuable and highly recommendable book, which I devoured in a single sitting."—Tyler Cowen, author of The Great Stagnation
"Binyamin Appelbaum has written a powerful must-read for all those interested in reinvigorating the credibility of economics, especially in policymaking circles. Through an engaging discussion of how economists' influence grew and spread, he shows how free-market economics evolved into an over-promising 'affirming religion,' only to disappoint too many of its followers and lead others astray. His insightful analysis also helps us identify what's needed to ensure that the market economy remains 'one of humankinds most awesome inventions.'"—Mohamed A. El-Erian, author of New York Times bestsellers When Markets Collide and The Only Game in Town
"A thoughtful history of the role of economists in U.S. government and public policy debates...This work offers an intelligent assessment of free-market thought in modern times and the resultant policies and should prove of interest to those interested in public policy."—Library Journal
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