Against Thrift: Why Consumer Culture is Good for the Economy, the Environment, and Your Soul

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Basic Books, 2011 - Business & Economics - 257 pages
6 Reviews
An acclaimed economic historian's provocative and counterintuitive challenge to prevailing economic wisdom argues that consumption - not more saving and investment - represents America's path to renewed prosperity. In one of the most polarised periods in our political history, politicians from both sides of the aisle have found one thing on which they can agree: consumer excess is to blame for our moral and economic decay. Since the financial meltdown of 2008, economists, journalists, politicians and Americans of all political stripes have come to believe that to restore the American Dream and renew economic growth, we need to save more and spend less. Save more and spend less - what could be more obvious at a time of financial crisis? And yet our history tells us that this is exactly the wrong step to take, according to the acclaimed economic historian James Livingston. In his provocative new book, Livingston - author of the classic "Origins of the Federal Reserve System" - argues that under-consumption actually caused the current crisis and will prolong it. By viewing the Great Recession through the prism of the Great Depression, Livingston proves that private investment is not the engine of growth we assume it to be. Tax cuts for business are therefore a recipe for disaster. If our goal is to reproduce the economic growth of the postwar era, we need a redistribution of income that reduces corporate profits, raises wages, and promotes consumer spending. Critiquing both the left and the right, "Against Thrift" poses a fundamental challenge to prevailing economic theories, while offering a radically new analysis of the changing relations between work and income, production and consumption, shopping and identity. With wit and originality, Livingston suggests the unthinkable: that a larger dose of consumerism will benefit the economy, the environment, and...our souls
  

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Review: Against Thrift: Why Consumer Culture is Good for the Economy, the Environment, and Your Soul

User Review  - Azriel - Goodreads

A font of annoying straw man arguments. Livingston presents inaccurate, partial, context free straw-man versions of what non-Keynesian economists have said, then "rebuts" them with either single ... Read full review

Review: Against Thrift: Why Consumer Culture is Good for the Economy, the Environment, and Your Soul

User Review  - Goodreads

A font of annoying straw man arguments. Livingston presents inaccurate, partial, context free straw-man versions of what non-Keynesian economists have said, then "rebuts" them with either single ... Read full review

Contents

Understanding Backward
3
Their Great Depression and Ours
40
Living Forward Economic History as Moral
63
THE MORALITY OF SPENDING
74
Exporting the Black Aesthetic
99
The Wand of Increase Advertising Desire
115
News from Nowhere Advertising Utopia
135
It Beats Working Why Consumer Culture
162
Bataille Made Me Do It
197
Capital in the American Economy
211
Acknowledgments
231
Index
243
Copyright

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About the author (2011)

James Livingston is a Professor of History at Rutgers University. He is the author of four previous books and a regular contributor to the History News Network. He lives in New York City.

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