Krugman won the Nobel Prize in Economics just a few days after I checked this out of the library. I'd been reading his essays in the NYT for years, anKrugman won the Nobel Prize in Economics just a few days after I checked this out of the library. I'd been reading his essays in the NYT for years, and his books had been on my to-be-read list for almost as long.
This set of essays is easy to read, mostly. At times the concepts can get a bit slippery to those of us that might not sufficiently remember enough about macroeconomics. They are a bit dated, however, dealing with events of the mid-to-late nineties, and I kept wondering whether and to what extent history had proved him right or wrong. For example, I believe France, whose economic planning he disparages, actually did quite well in the following years. However, they might have also shifted their planning to align more with his prescriptions.
I'd recommend the book as a pretty easy read to those that are curious about and at least somewhat conversant with economic theory. I do wish his articles were as amusing as Galbraith's, but that is perhaps asking for too much....more
This was a curiously fractured book. Those moderately rare folks expecting the subject to stay close to the title will be surprised: although PoundstoThis was a curiously fractured book. Those moderately rare folks expecting the subject to stay close to the title will be surprised: although Poundstone does spend quite a bit of time and text explaining the Prisoner's Dilemma (the archetypal game theoretic problem), this is almost as much a biography of the scientist John Von Neumann.
The nexus is the cold war fascination with the PD as a mechanism for strategic analysis of the arms race. Unfortunately, game theory was seized upon as a means of understanding long before academia (economics, mathematicians, philosophers, political scientists) actually understood what the games had to tell us in the abstract, thus horribly warping what we thought we could learn about interacting with the enemy. (Specifically, early examiners hadn't yet seen how iterated games radically changed the strategies and tactics of play.)
For most folks, Poundstone's book is weaker for the confusion. The tale isn't told well enough to draw the reader in, so only those who arrive already interested in each of the topic areas examined will tolerate the union.
I read this about a dozen years ago in grad school, and I believe it is one of the seminal academic books of mid-century America. Whyte documented theI read this about a dozen years ago in grad school, and I believe it is one of the seminal academic books of mid-century America. Whyte documented the radical shift in social importance that large corporations had attained along with their economic preeminence.
However, the book is obsolete as anything but sociological history. The faithful organization man required a paternalistic corporation to make sense, and that pairing collapsed with the advent of deep international competition in the seventies and eighties. Today, there is no lack of scathing criticism concerning the faithlessness of the typical corporation, and wise employees have long learned to plan for the possibility of being laid off, even by a corporation that is profitable.
For a more complete view of the impact the book made at the time, and on the author's later contributions, the Economist has an excellent short review of this classic here. ...more