Contours of Descent: U.S. Economic Fractures and the Landscape of Global Austerity

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Verso, 2005 - Business & Economics - 270 pages
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In the past twenty-five years the free-market neoliberal model has been hailed as a panacea for economic ills in both the advanced economies and the developing world. Pollin dissects this model as it has been implemented in the US during the Clinton and Bush administrations under Greenspan's Chairmanship of the Federal Reserve, and in developing countries under the auspices of the IMF.

Clinton's Third Way policies were hailed as combining a pro-business stance with social responsibility. This approach seemed to be vindicated by the extraordinary fall in both inflation and unemployment. In fact, the apparent successes of the Clinton years were based on anti-labor policies, the stagnation of real wages, deregulation of financial markets, and an historically unprecedented stock market boom. Even before 9/11 there were indications that the Clinton bubble would collapse into recession. Bush's response was to give big tax breaks to the rich, introduce more anti-labor measures, and cut social spending at both the federal and state levels.

Both Clinton and Bush have applied free-market policies only selectively within the US itself, when such policies have most benefited the interests of business. At the same time, through the IMF, the US has compelled developing countries to slash public spending, deregulate financial markets and dismantle trade barriers virtually across the board. Argentina's embrace of this policy package culminated in financial ruin. Throughout Asia and Africa, sweatshops and poverty are the testaments to a bankrupt economic model.

Pollin concludes by exploring concrete proposals that would promote full employment, economic growth and increased equality in the US and throughout the less developed countries, drawing ong the spreading movements for living wages, the Tobin Tax on financial speculation, and more generally workable alternatives to neoliberal globalization.
  

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Contours of Descent: US Economic Fractures and the Landscape of Global Austerity

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The economic boom of the 1990s--low unemployment and inflation, a soaring stock market, big government surpluses--was actually something of a bust, according to this incisive study. Pollin, an ... Read full review

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I have something of a review/preview at my blather-site, http://www.inkywretch.com.
I recommend reading this--particularly to get straight what ridiculous labels "liberal" and "conservative" and
"neoliberal" and "neoconservative" are.
Seems they're almost always misused--and are taken to mean exactly the opposite of what they're generally supposed to mean.
And, as old habits don't hardly die at all, there are typos on:
pgs:
16 minimimiizing and aquisitiveness (should be minimizing and acquisitiveness)
31 "the 1994-45 Mexico and 1997-98" should be 1994-95 Mexico...
41 "But the 3.7 percent rate..." should it be 3.6% rate? 3.7 d/n make sense
52 "models ... that ... incorporates..." Should be models that incorporate--but it's a tortured sentence and very hard to figure out whether the antecedent is "hunch" or "models," as it seems to be.
80 A prior reader caught this one--mislabeled X axis on bar-chart. 1st entry is 2001.1, 2nd, 3rd and 4th read "2000.2, 2000.3, 2000.4" for "quarterly GDp growth during 2001 (shd be 2001.2, etc.)
84 "injected some modicum of sanity amid the rampaging herds"? Waaay awkward. "some" and "modicum" are redundant. Shd be "a modicum" or "some tiny amount". As to "injecting" any single member of a "rampaging herd," hmmm. You'd likely get a bent needle for your trouble.
But there's a totally, totally great J.K. Galbraith quote on the topic of undiscovered monetary malfeasance: "At any given time there exists an inventory of undiscovered embezzlement. This inventory -- it should perhaps be called the bezzle -- amounts at any moment to many millions of dollars. ... In good times people are relaxed, trusting and money is plentiful. But even though money is plentiful, there are always people who need more. Under these circumstances the rate of embezzlement grows, the rate of discovery falls off, and bezzle increases rapidly. In depression all of this is reversed." What a sardonic kicker!
88 "...expect private investors to themselves return the economy to high-growth path." Shd be either "A high-growth path" or "high-growth pathS"
108 "...both the virtues and dangers with federal deficits." I'd go with "dangers OF federal deficits". can't remember if it's a transitive/intransitive thing, or just my idiom needle twitching.
136 "The poverty figures discussed earlier for the US combines both factors." Shd be "combine"--no plural. Poverty figures...combine. Or perhaps it's "poverty figure...combines. But there are plural figures.
141 "...many of the pesticides were spurious, so much so that there were numerous cases of peasants who attempted suicide by drinking pesticide, but still survived." I'd prefer "adulterated" or maybe even counterfeit instead of "spurious." And in the phrase "pesticide, but still survived." "still" is redundant.
181 a) "left to their own devises..." Archaic, OK, but not consistent w/ author's style. I'd go with "devices" b). "Because the contemporary regulatory system has become so complex and nimble in its capacity to circumvent regulations, ..." I don't think the author means to say that the "regulatory system circumvents regulations," but, rather, that either "the financial system has become so complex that the players in the "financial sector" have become so nimble that they can circumvent regulation". Or perhaps that "the regulatory system has become so complex that even the most muscle-bound bull could nimbly step through them without leaving a hoof print. Or something that doesn't have regulations circumventing regulations. Or I just don't get it.
 

Selected pages

Contents

Neoliberal Consensus Clinton Bush Greenspan IMF
3
Clintonomics The Hollow Boom
21
The Down Side of Fabulous
49
Money Grab and Recession The Bush Economy
77
The Landscape of Global Austerity
125
Another Path Is Possible
173
Afterword to the 2005 Edition
195
US Macroeconomic Trends 19602000 by NBER Cycle Data Groupings
227
A Phillips Curve Model With Unit Labor Costs
231
Measuring the Impact of Alternative Influences on the Federal Fiscal Budget
241
Notes
243
Index
263
Copyright

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About the author (2005)

Robert Pollin is Professor of Economics and founding Co-Director of the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. Among his many books are The Living Wage (with Stephanie Luce) and the edited volume Transforming the US Financial System (with Gary Dymski and Gerald Epstein). He has worked with the Joint Economic Committee of the US Congress and the United Nations Development Program, and was the economic spokesperson for the 1992 presidential campaign of Governor Jerry Brown.

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