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Zombie Economics

3.78  ·  Rating Details  ·  418 Ratings  ·  68 Reviews
In the graveyard of economic ideology, dead ideas still stalk the land.

The recent financial crisis laid bare many of the assumptions behind market liberalism--the theory that market-based solutions are always best, regardless of the problem. For decades, their advocates dominated mainstream economics, and their influence created a system where an unthinking faith in market
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Published October 3rd 2010 by Princeton University Press (first published 2010)
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Jun 19, 2011 Smellsofbikes rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a lot of fun. It is *not* an introduction to economics. It *is* a political statement, with heavy economics backing up that statement. If you're looking to learn more about economics this is not likely to help you, but if you're looking to go argue economics-based politics with a bunch of friends, this will fit into your arsenal nicely.
For each of five major topics: trickle-down economics, privatization, moderation economics, efficient markets, and dynamic stochastic general equilib
Aug 13, 2011 Mr MIT rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
John Quiggin in an Australian economist. He made his name in the early 1980s in an esoteric area called decision theory. The Econometrics Society made him a fellow on the basis of this work, a distinguished award. He writes a blog, which has many devoted followers. The book is primarily about macroeconomics, however, which is not his area. Asking Quiggin about macroeconomics is like going to a podiatrist for your headache: it's the wrong end of the body.

The chapter on Dynamic Stochastic General
Apr 25, 2016 Chris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Let me start by providing a bit of a backstory here.
Last Summer in the midst of the OMGGREECEISDOOMEDWE'REALLGOINGTODIE!111!!!!!!!11!!! hysteria I went and bought books because that's just how I react to everything.
There I was, in one of my favourite bookstores, browsing away when I happened upon the finance section. I don't choose to read economics books for pleasure the way I do other non-fiction books. When it comes to economics, I'll read whatever I need to read in the news in order to unde
May 10, 2013 Stringy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great overview of modern economics, how it went wrong and gave us gross inequality and the Global Financial Crisis, and possible avenues for new research. And it's not as pro-Keynesian as some reviewers would have you believe.

Quiggin covers the Great Moderation (unsustainable in the long term), the Efficient Markets hypothesis (wishful thinking), Trickle-Down Economics (self-serving bullshit), and Privatisation (actually a good idea when done pragmatically instead of ideologically). He also c
Apr 22, 2011 Ketsugami rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: economics
(x-posted from
An interesting book that talks about "dead" (read: disproven by events) economic ideas and how they continue to influence thought and policy. Quiggan goes about his work in a straightforward fashion, and although the death of some of these ideas is more controversial then others, he makes a pretty good case that all of them need to be consigned to the scrap-heap. There's a certain amount of academic-economics inside-baseball involved here,
Dec 30, 2010 Mark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've read John Quiggin as a blogger for a while, mostly on the group blog site "Crooked Timber." I knew he was working on this book--he published draft passages for feedback--but didn't read the preliminary stuff and wasn't really planning to buy it. Then I see it at the local bookstores, pick it up out of curiosity and found I couldn't resist the combination of a B-movie zombie cover with chapter titles like "Dynamic Stochastic General Equilibrium Theory."

The basic theme is a review of intellec
Dave Burns
Nov 03, 2012 Dave Burns rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gave-up, skimmed, library

Disappointing. Bites off quite a lot, but fails to chew it. Why am I so disappointed? I guess I don't see a strong connection between these ideas and the 2008 crisis, probably because I've heard so many conflicting explanations of the crisis. The explanation in this book is something like "The crisis happened because economists believe these stupid ideas." Huh? Maybe I missed it because I am skimming around looking for the beef, but I missed the part where he connected the crisis to specific po
Aug 12, 2015 Franz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Quiggins writes about economic ideas that held sway through much of the last 40 years that were proven wrong by the 2008 financial disaster they helped spawn. Though these ideas suffered ignoble deaths, like zombies they emerged to walk among us again, stalking many national economies and preventing them from experiencing full recoveries. The failed ideas that he discusses in detail are: the Great Moderation of the 1990s, when many economists foolishly believed that they had economies and recess ...more
Jun 05, 2012 Ed rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
John Quiggin who seems to be a left wing Keynsian, rounds up the usual suspects to blame for the Crash of '08 and the continuing economic turmoil and finds that policy makers who argue endlessly about how to intervene and then do the wrong thing don't listen to economists.

Which seems to be OK, since most the economists get thing wrong most the time anyway. A text on political economy with the emphasis on political. Quiggin has a lively style and a ready wit.
C. Scott
Mar 15, 2016 C. Scott rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I admit that this book sat on my shelf for a while before I finally got around to picking it up. The reason is that zombie economic ideas aren't really much of a mystery to me. A simple class analysis will tell you that economic theories that benefit the rich keep coming back from the dead not because they are good but because they are useful.

Thankfully Quiggin does not shy away from this reality - though he never misses an opportunity to kick Marx in the shins either.

I've been reading criticism
Aug 04, 2016 Adam rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: economics
WARNING: Do not read this book if you are an economics noob. There is way too much jargon in here and often his descriptions and explanations are woefully convoluted.

I do not value reviews where people just list what you will find in the book so I'll just say that it goes through a number of economics theories that the author considers to have failed but yet persist - a good example is 'trickle-down' (which the author states is a pejorative term coined by leftists, sort of like how the Big Bang
Dec 30, 2015 Bashnev rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: economics
A popular level economics book written in academic tome. The author, Australian economist John Quiggin, surveys 5 economic ideas/hypotheses, and uses the "life" stages of the movie zombie (i.e. birth, death, reanimation etc) as a template for his analysis.

Each idea is one that the author argues is dead (or rather should be dead) based on empirical evidence or its inability to explain real actual economic situations past. As Zombie Economics is popular in level this is not a textbook. You get a p
I thought this book was pretty good, though I think it's primary effects on me were to (1) make me think even less of economics (as a discipline) than I already did, and (2) feel a bit hopeless that things will ever get better (despite Quiggin's sensible proposals at the end). Three thoughts:

1. I love decision theory (I'm a philosopher of science who works on Bayesian stuff), but I think the attempts by economists to derive interesting macroecomic results by doing decision-theory problems on age
Jan 12, 2014 Mark rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Don’t be deceived by this book’s playful title and cover that looks like a comic book. It is almost as bad as an economics textbook. I did feel a little cheated and used once I started reading this book as it is quite heavy in parts.

Much is devoted to economic debates that are presented in a way that it not very entertaining, with the occasion reference to zombies at the end of each chapter. I needed toothpicks to keep my eyes open when reading about the Efficient Market Hypothesis and you’ll pr
Andrew Davis
Dec 26, 2013 Andrew Davis rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: economics
Introduced to me a Gini coefficient. It shown that in 2007 in the US the top 1% owned over a third of all assets. Top 10% owned 73% of all the assets. In Australia the top 10% holds 45% of all the assets.
Introduces Real business cycle theory (RBC theory), is a class of macroeconomic models in which business cycle fluctuations to a large extent can be accounted for by real (in contrast to nominal) shocks. RBC theory differs in this way from other theories of the business cycle such as Keynesian e
Elinor Hurst
This book slays the assertions of free market liberalism, sometimes known in Australia as "economic rationalism".. Written by an Australian academic economist, it thoroughly dissects the claims of free market economics for trickle down benefits, financial deregulation, privatisation, productivity improvements and supposed moderating effects on the economy. The GFC has blown many of these claims out of the water, but more than that, Quiggin painstakingly analyses the evidence from a historical an ...more
Justin Campbell
Zombie Economics: How Dead Ideas Still Walk Among Us: Review

Zombie Economics: How Dead Ideas Still Walk Among Us is a critique of many of the free market ideas that have defined government policy in the last 30 years. The author John Quiggin a professor of economics at the University of Queensland is a well known Keynesian. The fact Professor Quiggin advocates a return to regulation of financial services and a returned to the mixed economy is not surprising. Taking this into account readers shou
Apr 07, 2011 Becky rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Only read this book if you are prepared to be grumpy. I've been wondering for the past 2-3 years why politicians have been arguing back and forth about the bailout, healthcare, the budget, etc. without really having any intelligent or substantial feedback from economists. I figured they were just ignoring the economists because they were dumb politicians. Actually, the truth is that there are hardly any macroeconomists who have had anything useful to say about the recession.

Quiggin does a very g
Mar 12, 2016 David rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Best thing I've read in a while. I was so impressed that I read it twice. I appreciate his critique of the various e c onomic theories, and his discussion of their origins and the continuation of the he ideas long after the facts have disproved the hypothesis. This is extremely important as ideas regarding balanced budget amendments or tax cuts paying for themselves have dramatic consequences for us all. Very quick read but was able to cover a great deal of material with clarity.
Jonathan Cunningham
A good book as far as refutation of market liberalism's inane bullshit goes, and from a more classical Keynesian perspective as a bonus. The author does ignore one of Keynes' key points about the purpose of technology on employment (to increase living standards while decreasing the work necessary to achieve them) when he argues for structural economic adjustments to maintain 'full' employment during recessions.
Mark Krawczykowski
Very informative. Digs into the major economic myths of Reaganism/Thatcherism/neoliberalism that have shaped policy here and many other parts of the world over the last 40 years: Trickle Down Economics, push for privatization, austerity during recessions, free markets are the answer to all that ails, and handedly disproves all of them. Points out that Keynesian economics has it's limitations and failed in the 70's, but the New Keynesians in the 80s and 90s did not come up with proper adjustments ...more
Gareth Evans
Garish cover, eye-catching title - it certainly did the trick for me as this is the first mainstream economics book I read. The title - certainly the subtitle - is consistently followed throughout the book with 5 ideas from market liberalism analysed with particular reference to the 2008 financial crises. As an economics novice, I found the book very readable having enough explanation of basic concepts. A more entertaining version of this book would have reduced the repetition and introduced som ...more
Feb 09, 2012 Wise_owl rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Economics, as a topic, tends to be dry and dull, and frankly, if your looking for something as 'hip' as say Freakanomics, this ain't it. But what this is, is a very timely look at idea's in economics that are still being defended and put forward, despite history and reality having repeatedly disproven them(most especially in the most recent economic crisis.) I think the books over-all thesis and presentation and excellent, and it's explination of idea's, as well as the layout for the books refer ...more
Feb 26, 2012 Ben rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Decent. It is what I expected. The book goes through five theories of economics that have been around for awhile but were discredited prior to or as a result of the recent financial meltdown experienced globally in 2008. Their historical inception, popularity, and the motivation behind such are explored with an eye toward showing how the ideas are discredited by empirical evidence. The basics of an approach for moving beyond failed ideas toward new ones are suggested but receive a very short tre ...more
Liam Dodd
Jan 11, 2015 Liam Dodd rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A clear and understandable introduction and discussion of various economic ideas, models, and rationalisations that have failed multiple times but remain part of either the mainstay academic discussion, or a part of the economic policy of leading political parties. Quiggin does a good job of mixing accessible language with a thorough discussion of the ideas presented.

The ideas are well evidenced and they arguments of the defenders of these policies are explored and investigated, with minimal st
Chris Aylott
An Australian economist explains why supply-side economics, reckless privatization, and other hallmarks of recent financial strategy are Really Bad Ideas and Should Not Be Done Again. The theory gets a little thick at times, especially when taking about things like "Dynamic Stochastic General Equilibrium," which I'm not sure I could define or use in a sentence. But he does get across how many of these ideas ignore common sense practices like estimating reasonable risks and paying what you owe.

Jamie Johnson
Jan 05, 2013 Jamie Johnson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
John Quiggin's Zombie Economics makes a very creditable critique of the key economic ideas that supposedly drove the neo-liberal boom from the 1980's through to 2008 (the Great Moderation) and then all came spectacularly unstuck in the GFC. That the crises was not in any way obvious to the world of economics academia and they're media spokespeople just goes to show how out-of-touch the profession has become.

My one quibble with Professor Quiggin is that after some very astute and well documented
Jan 01, 2013 Joe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There are many books which I'm pleased to have read, but only a few that I'm PROUD to have read. This is one of the later. Much like the books I've read on subatomic physics, and the history of the Supreme Court, this one was challenging to say the least. Yes, there's a reason they call economics the "dismal science". Regardless, this was a fascinating journey through many of the theories accepted as fact by the purveyors of market liberalization and unregulated finance. One would think that the ...more
May 04, 2012 Nick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm still in the second chapter, but I've seen enough to safely recommend this book. Quiggin gives historically-grounded assessments of some of the stubborn solecisms of the economics profession (e.g. the Efficient Markets Hypothesis). After each chapter, the reader is left with a firmer understanding of how and why these ideas achieved popularity, to what extent they have been discredited, and what the policy consequences have been and might be in the future.

Quiggin can write, and the book is
Dec 03, 2014 Murray rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
In fairness to John Quiggin, I probably wasn't quite in the mood to read about economics, but he explains stuff well. Especially enjoyed the chapter on privatisation, which is what I was mostly interested in.
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