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The Great Unraveling: Losing Our Way in the New Century (Updated and Expanded)

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Book Overview

This description may be from another edition of this product. The Great Unraveling is a chronicle of how "the heady optimism of the late 1990s gave way to renewed gloom as a result of "incredibly bad leadership, in the private sector and in the corridors of...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

interesting viewpoint

I first encountered paul krugman on tim russets tv show.He was arguing with Fox's Bill Oreilly in a left vs right discussion. Both where also flogging books on the show.It was a david and goliath struggle to watch and in short I bought Paul's book since I was interested in his economistsview on us politics. It consists of 5 years of his OP ED articles from the New York Times on US and world economicsand politics. It helped me get a better view of what is going on in the US. The political fog from both sides as to what thefacts are is a bit thick. It was a wity informative read.

Exactly what America needs more of right now

Academic economists are by their nature non-partisan (they would not survive professionally otherwise), which is why it is so telling to see a serious economist like Krugman writing what amounts to a diatribe over the Bush administration's policies. Careful reading will reveal that what makes Krugman so upset are not the Bush administration's particular stands (e.g. tax cuts over deficit reduction, privatizing social security, subsidizing the energy industry, selling off national forests, etc.) but rather that, instead of openly declaring their intentions and engaging the public in an honest policy debate over priorities, they consistently "mislead" the American public about the goals and effects of their policies. My colleagues in government - even the conservatives - lament that while Clinton allowed economic analysis to guide his policy choices, the Bush Administration employs their economists largely to concoct justifications for their policies, and have little interest in any actual policy debate. Krugman, by highlighting the impact of the Administration policies is not "left-wing" (in fact, far from it). He would be the first to admit that properly-designed tax cuts can be used to stimulate the economy or to promote incentives to save and invest. He simply points out that the Bush Administration's policies claim to do things they are not designed to do, and that while eliminating taxes on capital income may increase America's low saving rates, they are unlikely to boost consumer spending (as claimed) and overwhelmingly benefit the super-rich. Whether such a policy is "good" or "bad" is an individual voter's choice - but voters cannot make those decisions for themselves if the Administration doesn't present the choices honestly. In effect, the Bush administration is promising a free lunch where one does not exist. A glance over other reviews of this book is both illuminating and depressing: it reveals that those, like me, who recommend the book do so because it redresses a terrible gap in current public debate, making arguments based on facts rather than knee-jerk opinions and/or political spin, whle those who give it one-star do so based on Karl Rovian-style attacks that the author once received a check from Enron for consulting services. (Huh!?? And how much have the President and his handlers received from Enron??) The bottom line: You may not agree with everything Krugman has to say, but if you are seriously interested in public debate over the future of the country and the economy, this book is a must read. Yes the author is vitriolic and a tad arrogant, but he has good reason for both of those characteristics. If, on the other hand, you're content to ignore honest, informed discussions in favor of suckling at the teet of the latest RNC talking points, who cares what you think anyway...?


It is a shame that Krugman, a first rate economist, MIT grad, and award winning professor at Princeton will be excorciated by the right as shrill and hackneyed. He is none of those things, nor is his book. The book is an investigation of the economic collapse of America since 2000. It is a 'liberal' book only so far as Krugman can point to the policies of the adminstration which have gotten the US to the point of economic collapse. And he wield numbers mightily. It is his own homework, his own number crunching, his own math based on the economy that leads him to his conclusions. The book does not rely on his opinions of the people that he likes and does not like, so it's difficult to compare it to a Coulter or Franken book.The book is important and outstanding. It should be required reading for every one of the 3,000,000 Americans who has lost a job in the past three years. It is an argument against supply side economics and deficit spending of the best calibre.

Clear and Compelling--and Frightening

Krugman is a godsend. As a Princeton economist, he has the training, the time, and most importantly, the job security to take on the huge job of analyzing the Bush administration's policies and exposing them for what they are. The corporate-owned mainstream press must bow to many masters, including popular opinion, and must placate the administration officials they cover for fear of losing the most precious thing in news: access. Krugman has the luxury (if that word applies to the daunting task he's taken on) of assiduously digesting the Bush camp's proposals and actions, including complicated economic plans that most of us have neither the training nor the time to study in detail, and point out in clear language how they differ not only from many of the administration's own statements but from what most people (i.e., the majority of us who aren't millionaires) want out of our government. I've been reading his Times columns faithfully, and find that they have done some of the best work widely available of demonstrating factually just how socially retrograde and economically dangerous the Bush policies are. He details the frightening arrogance and irresponsibility of those at the top of this government, facts that are only now beginning to be brought to the attention of the general public. If you're now surprised by the titanic budget deficit and what it has done and will do to the economy, the huge mess in Iraq--including the deceits that got us involved there in the first place--and the White House's cluelessness in dealing with it, the jobless 'recovery,' critical cuts in basic social services like schools, police and fire houses, health care and more, and revelations about continuing domestic security vulnerabilities, well, none of this is news to Krugman readers. Simply put, he's one of the best.

Necessary and extremely important analysis

First, who cares if these are reprints from the New York Times? This is the first time I've encountered Krugman's work, and I was certainly not put off by the knowledge that these had appeared in print elsewhere - nor does this fact, of multiple publications, affect the economic analyses contained in the articles, which is surely more important than the circumstances of publication surrounding it. In any case, reading these (for the first time) was not eye-opening but relieving - that intelligent, numerically-informed economists actually are paying attention to the latest rounds of policy decisions in Washington and Wall Street. Krugman finally says what more than half of the US - if you believe opinion polls - has been hoping someone would say, which is that the emperor has no clothes, and Bush's economic policies are based purely on murky ideologies and not at all on rational future-planning. Why paying taxes is considered worse than having no public universities, no public healthcare, even no sidewalks, is beyond me. Taxes, really, aren't that bad - they buy you quality of life, community, and allow for an institutionalization of generosity in the modern governmental state. I have no problem with paying taxes. That said, the brink of ruin upon which our economy seems to be teetering is an engineered brink; we have been put there, deliberately, it seems, by irresponsible policies about which no one seems to have a clear end-view. I strongly recommend this book. It's literally of no relevance to the book's content if these essays have been published elsewhere, in a newspaper I, for one, do not even read. If you've already read the essays - don't buy it. But if you have a problem with the direction our country is moving in - ie. toward toward total collapse - buy this soon and read it quickly.
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