MixedThe Washington PostUnfortunately for Bernanke, however, his book arrives just as this new framework is being put to the test, with an inflationary spiral taking hold, an economic slowdown on the horizon, and tech and crypto bubbles starting to burst ... You can tell from its title that this is not a book aimed at the bestseller list. Half is given over to a history of Federal Reserve policy from the Johnson administration to the present. That is followed by a remarkably accessible but unavoidably wonkish discussion of the extraordinary steps taken by the Fed and other central banks in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis and then again during the recent pandemic ... Anyone looking for the score settling, mea culpas and juicy anecdotes usually found in books by Washington insiders will be disappointed ... Indeed, one of the weaknesses of the book is that Bernanke cannot seem to bring himself to say anything critical about any of his Fed colleagues — or, for that matter, any of his predecessors or successors — or the insular Fed culture that remains smugly dismissive of critics and dissenters, overreliant on its economic models and willfully ignorant of the machinations on Wall Street ... even though it is more than a decade since he left the Fed for a research sinecure at the Brookings Institution, Bernanke clings to the obfuscating and euphemistic language of the central banker ... Particularly unconvincing is Bernanke’s assertion that the expansionary monetary policy he supports does not favor the rich or significantly contribute to income inequality ... Bernanke’s analysis betrays a surprisingly shallow understanding of the dynamics of inequality in the 21st-century economy ... In the coming months, the Fed will try to rescue this strategy with a series of sharp rate increases and gradual withdrawal of bank reserves, moves that it hopes can tame inflation without throwing the economy into recession. If the Fed succeeds in engineering such a \'soft landing,\' Bernanke’s book could see a second printing as it becomes the go-to text for courses in monetary policy...But if the strategy fails, the result is likely to be an extended period of uncomfortably high inflation and uncomfortably high unemployment...In that event, the most likely place to find a copy of 21st Century Monetary Policy will be the remainder bin of your local bookstore.
PositiveThe Washington Post... deftly weaves strands of economic, business, political, social and intellectual history into an engaging, accessible narrative of how and why the United States became the world’s most successful economy. Prodigiously researched, elegantly written and relentlessly interesting, Levy’s opus should be required reading for every college history and economics major ... vivid ... Unfortunately, Levy’s magisterial volume is undermined by his tendency to characterize every major development in American capitalism as a change in \'liquidity preference,\' a Keynesian tic that will be distracting to the general reader and unconvincing to those who might understand it ... We could also do without Levy’s repeated attempts to enhance his woke creds by applying present-day norms and morals to earlier eras ... These are disappointingly ahistorical assessments from such a fine historian, one who has now given Americans reason to restore economic history to its rightful place in the study of the past and our understanding of the present.
Zachary D Carter
RaveThe Washington Post... a spectacular new biography that paints a rich and textured portrait of the great economist and locates his ideas within the broad sweep of economic and intellectual history ... Although Carter is known for his reporting on economic policy for HuffPost, he has found an even higher calling as a writer who can explain economic concepts with such clarity and simplicity that we digest them with the same ease and satisfaction as a plump oyster sliding down our gullet. With his first book, Carter establishes himself as the rare writer who can weave compelling narrative, insightful analysis and explication of complex phenomena in prose that is accessible, elegant, almost lyrical at times. The Price of Peace should be required reading for every economics major and anyone who struggles to understand the interplay of money, markets and economic policy ... If I have any quibble with The Price of Peace, it is with Carter’s critique of “neoliberal” economists and policymakers who strayed from the true Keynesian path over the past 40 years by embracing globalization, deregulation and fiscal austerity.
MixedThe Washington PostA revelatory book...that also has all the elements of a page-turning mystery novel ... Enrich...couldn’t have made up a more intriguing tale than the story he uncovered at Deutsche Bank. The result, Dark Towers, is a real-life account that will confirm every suspicion you have about the greed and incompetence at the heart of modern finance ... but in the end Enrich can’t quite pull it off. Part of the problem is that the demands of constructing a compelling, dramatic narrative lead him to ignore too much about the bank’s operations, its financial performance and what else was happening in the industry to put these dramatic events in context and make it a credible business history. Enrich organizes the book around the career of one banker, Bill Broeksmit ... But in the end, the stories of the bank and the banker do not track each other in a way that feels true and convincing. Enrich certainly did a tremendous amount of reporting ... The biggest shortcoming of Dark Towers, however, is that while it raises provocative questions about Deutsche Bank and Trump, it never quite answers them.
MixedThe Washington PostIn Transaction Man, Lemann does a fine job of identifying and reporting the various strands of a narrative that he hoped would explain why \'the economy we have now is not doing a good job of generating . . . social trust, political calm, or widely shared prosperity.\' But he never succeeds in weaving them together in a convincing, coherent story. The problem is not, as the author suggests, that Berle, Jensen, Hoffman and their contemporaries succumbed to \'conceptual grandeur.\' They were merely part of the dynamic process by which every generation responds with ideas and policies to events and challenges, and even successful economic models atrophy and are replaced by something better. Rather, if anyone is guilty of conceptual overreach, it is Lemann himself.
Philippe Van Parijs and Yannick Vanderborght
MixedThe Washington PostAlthough their goal is utopian, Van Parijs and Vanderborght aim to infuse it with economic and political realism. They are strongest when framing the guaranteed income as an economic dividend to which all citizens are entitled ... Giving some a fairer share, of course, means taking a share away from others, and these Belgian academics certainly don’t shy away from the redistributionist nature of their project ... Although not a technical book, Basic Income is more academic than most readers would prefer. Americans will not fail to notice the authors’ abiding enmity for 'the dictatorship of market' or the European left-wing filter through which they view political reality. The more philosophical sections are given to hair-splitting, while those on financing beg for more specifics. What Van Parijs and Vanderborght bring to this topic is a deep understanding, an enduring passion and a disarming optimism.
PanThe Washington PostUnlike most of his earlier books, however, this one disappoints. Kidder’s narrative skills seem to fail him — too much detail in some parts, not enough in others. The guiding voice and vision of the author, so welcome in his other work, are missing here ... as rich a life as English has led, and as fascinating a character as he may be, there are too many details in Kidder’s tale that just aren’t all that interesting or telling. The structure, with its many flashbacks, proves clumsy. Despite prodigious reporting, there are glaring holes in his narrative ... Most troubling is Kidder’s reluctance to give shape and meaning to his tale as it is unfolding.