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Aftershock: The Next Economy and America's Future

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  3,660 ratings  ·  361 reviews
A brilliant new reading of the economic crisis—and a plan for dealing with the challenge of its aftermath—by one of our most trenchant and informed experts.

When the nation’s economy foundered in 2008, blame was directed almost universally at Wall Street. But Robert B. Reich suggests a different reason for the meltdown, and for a perilous road ahead. He argues that the real
Hardcover, 174 pages
Published September 21st 2010 by Knopf
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3.94  · 
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 ·  3,660 ratings  ·  361 reviews

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Dec 01, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I need to do more thinking on this one before writing my review...some things need to percolate a bit...

ok, I'm back.

First, a little background. I've always considered myself comfortably conservative, socially, economically, politically. But in my old(er) age (32 and a half or so) when I'm being brutally honest with myself, I'm finding more and more merit in what would have horrified a younger me - a *gasp* more liberal worldview. I'm not really what anyone would call bleeding heart, but the con
Sep 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I could not believe that I was reading a book about economics that
1. I understood
2. I really enjoyed
3. I couldn't wait to get to the end so I could see what his recommendations were.
This is a well written book that talks about the importance of restoring money to the middle class, describes the repercussions of not doing so and comes up with some other suggestions that might seem extreme but definitely are worth considering (like all public schools free tuition)...
Elaine Nelson
Apr 02, 2011 rated it really liked it
"To summarize: the fundamental problem is that Americans no longer have the purchasing power to buy what the US economy is capable of producing. The reason is that a larger and larger portion of total income has been going to the top. What's broken is the basic bargain linking pay to production. The solution is to remake the bargain." (Ch 11)

That's the whole book in a single paragraph. The first part is all about how the hell we got here, from before the Great Depression to the current day. The
Mike Robbins
Feb 21, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“As mass production has to be accompanied by mass consumption, mass consumption, in turn, implies a distribution of wealth... Instead of achieving that kind of distribution, a giant suction pump had... drawn into a few hands an increasing portion of currently produced wealth. ...In consequence, as in a poker game where the chips were concentrated in fewer and fewer hands, the other fellows could stay in the game only by borrowing. When their credit ran out, the game stopped.”

This is from Robert
Dec 04, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: policy
p. 53 "Remember bank tellers? Telephone operators? The fleets of airline workers behind counters who issued tickets? Service station attendants? These and millions of other jobs weren't lost to globalization; they were lost to automation. America has lost at least as many jobs to automated technology as it has to trade... But contrary to popular mythology, trade and technology have not really reduced the number of jobs available to Americans. Take a look at the rate of unemployment over the last ...more
Apr 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: politics, economics
Progressives: read this! Conservatives: read this! Liberals: read this!

Robert Reich should know something about government, public policy, money, and crises. He outlines the reasons why our current "recovery" will not be sufficient to bring back prosperity unless we reform aspects of our economic and political systems. His messages is compelling: increasing inequity causes recession, breaks down social cohesion, and threatens democracy. He points out the the greatest inequality in income through
Sep 21, 2010 rated it it was amazing
The crux of Reich's argument is that the weakening of the middle class since 1980 has critically eroded both the economy and the social compact that has been the crucial support for American political and economic life. He carefully analyzes the causes of the problem and shows the dangerous direction unchecked, severe wealth inequality threatens to lead us. Even if you don't agree with Reich's politics, it is worth taking note when a respected former Secretary of the Treasury begins to sound suc ...more
Scott Lupo
May 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Robert Reich somehow went into my brain and took all my ideas about the economy and put them into a great, focused, readable book. If you are at all interested in a measured, logical look at the economy and what truly makes it run please pick up this book and take a weekend to read it. This book is not about blame and pointing fingers although the evidence he puts forward may make the reader come to some conclusions on who to point the finger at. No, this book is about the bigger picture. What t ...more
May 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
All the stale, old economic text books used in high schools and colleges around the country should be tossed in favor of using this book. In plain english, certainly Reich's forte if you've ever heard him, he explains why the economy is in the state it's in and what can be done about it. Even if some of his blueprint bears closer scrutiny, this is a great reference for understanding just what the heck is going on.
Jan 31, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Aftershock is a very concise and readable evaluation of American tax and economic trends since the Great Depression. Reich observes that America prospered greatly from the WWII era until the end of the 70's and seems to decline at an exponential rate following the end of the 70's. His main point seems to me to be that the consolidation of great wealth in the hands of a few is not just immoral, but is economically destructive.

Pre 1980 America was marked by very high tax rates on the wealthiest Am
Feb 01, 2011 rated it really liked it
Review originally published in THE FUTURIST, March-April 2011

The inequality of wealth in the United States will result in a stagnant economy and political turmoil by the year 2020, argues public-policy scholar and former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert B. Reich in Aftershock. Millions of deeply indebted Americans will embrace isolationism, reject both big government and big business, and sever America’s ties with the rest of the world, he predicts.

To illustrate the size and scope of this disaster, R
Sep 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
Aftershock: The Next Economy and America's Future by Robert B. Reich
“Aftershock…” is the interesting concise book that deals with how our economy came to be, how we can learn from history and some specific ideas on how we can address these problems. This insightful 194-page book is broken out into three major parts: Part I. The Broken Bargain, Part II. Backlash, and Part III. The Bargain Restored.

1. Engaging, well-written, well-researched book that is accessible to the masses.
2. Thoug
Susan Bazzett-Griffith
For a book written in 2010, a very prophetic read about the current state of America's economy and political atmosphere, in which Reich gives readers a proper background in the history of American economics and why the current system is broken, rigged, and making people angry. He explains the inevitable problems that occur, not just here and now, but throughout history and in other countries, when the inequality of wealth becomes so great that the nation as a whole starts to fracture. He also ac ...more
Greg Bates
Oct 02, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2010
An engrossing look at the Great Recession of 2008, along with an overview of the factors that caused it. Reich brilliantly underscores the process by which both right and left-wing presidents and politicians have caused America's middle class to become poorer and poorer over the last 25 years, even as the economy boomed. Taking us on a journey from 1928 to 2008 in a scant 140 pages, this book is simple (and short) enough for ANYONE to read while clever enough to provide an elegant picture of the ...more
Dec 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
A quick, timely read, Aftershock lends insight and clarity to the frustrations being incoherently expressed by Occupiers and Baggers. Some of the solutions seem a bit overboard (50% taxes on income over $160k a year and education vouchers) but other solutions are presented as obviously necessary (campaign finance reform, influence peddling curbs, and equal access efforts). Whether you're an Occupier, abagger, or a bloviator, this is a worthy read.
John Hively
May 16, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: shawn-sorensen
"Aftershock" is a copycat ripoff of several other books. There are significant differences. Aftershock lacks the depth of analysis of similar books.

On the other hand, like many others starting a decade or more ago, Reich correctly identifies the mal-distribution of income in the USA that has occurred over the last thirty years as the primary problem with the economy. Okay, give Reich credit. Like a lot of other people, he figured that one out.

After that Reich moves off into a fantasy world whe
Dec 06, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: business, nook-book
Mr. Reich wrote a very good economic book based off the ideas of Marriner Eccles and John Maynard Keynes. He claims the reason for recessions and depressions is caused when the disparity between the rich and the middle class wealth is greatest.

He said that the wealthy will not spend the money and the middle class does not have enough money to spend. This contracts the economy. The middle class will spend on credit and when they run out the economy fails. He said that is what happened during the
May 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the books I have collected during my four-year stay in New York. These years were very difficult for me and I was plagued by a sense of deep disappointment with the dissonance between my image of America and the reality I lived every day. Even in affluent New York, you can see that things are going wrong for the majority of the working-class, you can see the growing divide between Walmart shoppers and the clients of 5th Avenue, it is not pretty.
I tried to understand all this by a
Mar 28, 2011 rated it really liked it
Economics is a complicated subject.

First, for all of us, there's the fundamental problem of trying to balance money received and money spent. That issue applies to everyone, from kids buying penny candy to businesses and governments. Simplistic thinkers, including a good many Tea Party-type "fiscal conservatives"-tend to think that's all there is to it.

Most middle class people, however, also need to deal with interest rates on savings and loans, bank and card usage fees, discounts and fines—not
Aug 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
Great history of America's economy by a former Labor Secretary and current professor. He begins with the writings of Marriner Eccles, a Utah businessman and later, head of the Federal Reserve, after the Great Crash in 1029, which was interesting and new to me. Reich compares the build-up to that with 2007-8, noting that the stock market and banks were basically doing the same things and then pointing out that our greatest economic prosperity occurred from 1947-1975 when the middle class was stro ...more
Nov 20, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: finance, non-fiction
This book attempts to explain what caused the Great Recession and tries to provide solutions. The main points of the book:

1. Real wages of middle class Americans have generally remained stagnant for decades while the super rich are taking home more and more.

2. Americans have coped with #1 in three ways: a) women entered the workforce; b) men and women have worked longer hours; and c) families have take on huge amounts of debt.

3. Workers are consumers. With the coping mechanisms from #2 gone, the
Tiffany Conner
Oct 06, 2010 rated it really liked it
Not too much of what's in this book is news, but it's certainly stuff that's worth knowing. Some of what Professor Reich says? The disparity between rich and poor is bad for our country. Period. Middle class and working class wages have not risen, even though productivity gains for these groups have risen considerably. The only winners? You guessed it! The top 1 percent of earners in our country. God bless America. The problem with that? We are a consumer-based economy. If the largest segments o ...more
Jan 01, 2011 rated it it was ok
Robert Reich makes some very eye opening and relevant points in his book. His premise is essentially that the divide between the rich and the middle class has grown substantially over the years, and this clash of lifestyles has repercussions that reverberate for generations. His opinions on the economic downfall are very sound and well researched. Unfortunately, if you partially disagree with his reasoning on the economic crisis, you'll find the entire book baseless. Despite falling into that ca ...more
Feb 13, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: adult-nonfiction
This is a very accessible examination of the recent economic meltdown. You can tell Prof. Reich is a teacher, as the text is very clearly written, so that even an economic dunce like myself can understand his points. I also appreciate that he has given his ideas for concrete measures that address our problems. He is not, in other words, just telling us what went wrong, but is also advising what to do about it. He believes our economy is like a pendulum that swings from eras in which economic ben ...more
Mar 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: economics-policy
This is the third book from Mr. Reich I've read, and to initiates I'd definitely recommend this for its brevity (around 150 pages) and ease of reading. His analyses on the financial crisis and the Recession provide ample food for thought to those with an interest in the subject, although he doesn't cover a lot of new ground in this one. His description of the increasingly pinched middle class and languishing median wage being at the root of the economic crisis is essentially the conclusion I'd a ...more
Steve Kettmann
Nov 20, 2011 rated it really liked it
I think this is a great book, one I would recommend to anyone. His basic argument against economic inequality in the U.S. - which has peaked twice in the last century, once just before the Great Depression and the other time, well, right about now - strikes me as very smart: He points out that whatever you think about moral arguments against such inequality, on practical grounds it just will not work. We as an economy cannot generate adequate demand to have sustainable growth and benefit all if ...more
Dec 01, 2010 rated it really liked it
I know most of this stuff already, but Reich says it all so well.

Slim book about where we are really at and why - not the usual whining about those greedy financial people, though of course they are mentioned. The long-term problem in the US is really due to the wealth gap and the demise of the working and middle class.

My dad, not an economist, explained to me that this was why the Depression lasted so long - because most people could not afford to buy stuff which kept money out of circulation
Terrific explanation of the reason why we MUST reform our economy, and a must-read for anyone seeking to understand what's behind the Occupy Wall Street Movement. Our economy is in danger on multiple fronts: on the one hand, wealth and power are increasingly concentrated in the hands of just a few, groups who exercise too much sway over Washington; and on the other hand, the decline in real earning power of the middle and lower class has meant that the engine of economic growth that powered the ...more
Sep 05, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: politics
So clear-cut and readable. Reich's core argument is that the middle class can no longer get ahead; wages are (and have been for far too long) stagnant, unemployment is rising, and our debt load is crushing. There's therefore no incentive for what conservatives are currently calling "the job creators" to invest in ramping up production; we can't afford to buy the goods and services that would become available. He argues that the economy cannot grow until the middle class is able to increase their ...more
Aug 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This short book about economics clearly explains the cause of the current crisis and how it is due to income inequality which had peaks in 1928 and 2007. That fact alone is absolutely stunning. The way to fix the problem is lower taxes on the poor and raise them on the rich. Almost no money comes back from tax cuts for the rich, but tax cuts for the poor come back in multiples because of the money multiplier effect. The progressive budget written by Raul Grijalva is right on target for Robert Re ...more
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Indie Revolution ...: Will inequality destroy democracy? 1 3 Apr 28, 2018 02:35PM  

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Robert Bernard Reich is an American politician, academic, and political commentator. He served as Secretary of Labor under President Bill Clinton from 1993 to 1997. Reich is a former Harvard University professor and the former Maurice B. Hexter Professor of Social and Economic Policy at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University. He is currently a professor at the Un ...more
“The problem was not that Americans spent beyond their means but that their means had not kept up with what the larger economy could and should have been able to provide them. the American economy had been growing briskly, and America's middle class naturally expected to share in that growth. But it didn't. A larger and larger portion of the economy's winnings had gone to people at the top.” 8 likes
“It is still possible to find people who believe that government policy did not end the Great Depression and undergird the Great Prosperity, just as it is possible to uncover people who do not believe in evolution.” 3 likes
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