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Asset Price Swings, Risk, and the Role of the State
In the wake of the global financial crisis that began in 2007, faith in the rationality of markets has lost ground to a new faith in their irrationality. The problem, Roman Frydman and Michael Goldberg argue, is that both the rational and behavioral theories of the market rest on the same fatal assumption--that markets act mechanically and economic change is fully predictable. In Beyond Mechanical Markets, Frydman and Goldberg show how the failure to abandon this assumption hinders our understanding of how markets work, why price swings help allocate capital to worthy companies, and what role government can and can't play.
The financial crisis, Frydman and Goldberg argue, was made more likely, if not inevitable, by contemporary economic theory, yet its core tenets remain unchanged today. In response, the authors show how imperfect knowledge economics, an approach they pioneered, provides a better understanding of markets and the financial crisis. Frydman and Goldberg deliver a withering critique of the widely accepted view that the boom in equity prices that ended in 2007 was a bubble fueled by herd psychology. They argue, instead, that price swings are driven by individuals' ever-imperfect interpretations of the significance of economic fundamentals for future prices and risk. Because swings are at the heart of a dynamic economy, reforms should aim only to curb their excesses.
Showing why we are being dangerously led astray by thinking of markets as predictably rational or irrational, Beyond Mechanical Markets presents a powerful challenge to conventional economic wisdom that we can't afford to ignore.
Why America Spends While the World Saves
If the financial crisis has taught us anything, it is that Americans save too little, spend too much, and borrow excessively. What can we learn from East Asian and European countries that have fostered enduring cultures of thrift over the past two centuries? Beyond Our Means tells for the first time how other nations aggressively encouraged their citizens to save by means of special savings institutions and savings campaigns. The U.S. government, meanwhile, promoted mass consumption and reliance on credit, culminating in the global financial meltdown.
Many economists believe people save according to universally rational calculations, saving the most in their middle years as they plan for retirement, and saving the least in welfare states. In reality, Europeans save at high rates despite generous welfare programs and aging populations. Americans save little, despite weaker social safety nets and a younger population. Tracing the development of such behaviors across three continents from the nineteenth century to today, this book highlights the role of institutions and moral suasion in shaping habits of saving and spending. It shows how the encouragement of thrift was not a relic of indigenous traditions but a modern movement to confront rising consumption. Around the world, messages to save and spend wisely confronted citizens everywhere--in schools, magazines, and novels. At the same time, in America, businesses and government normalized practices of living beyond one's means.
Transnational history at its most compelling, Beyond Our Means reveals why some nations save so much and others so little.
Some images inside the book are unavailable due to digital copyright restrictions.
Food and Agriculture in U.S. Literature, 1850-1905
Agriculture in the United States has changed dramatically in the last two hundred years. Economic transformation marked by the expansion of the industrial economy and big business has contributed to an increase in industrial food production. Amid this change, policymakers and cultural critics have debated the best way to produce food and wealth for an expanding population with imperialistic tendencies.
In a sweeping overview, Beyond the Fruited Plain traces the connections between nineteenth-century literature, agriculture, and U.S. territorial and economic expansion. Bringing together theories of globalization and ecocriticism, Kathryn Cornell Dolan offers new readings on the texts of such literary figures as Herman Melville, Frank Norris, Mark Twain, Henry David Thoreau, and Harriet Beecher Stowe as they examine conflicts of food, labor, class, race, gender, and time—issues still influencing U.S. food politics today. Beyond the Fruited Plain shows how these authors use their literature to imagine agricultural alternatives to national practices and in so doing prefigure twenty-first-century concerns about globalization, resource depletion, food security, and the relation of industrial agriculture to pollution, disease, and climate change.
Working from the spare bedroom of his Bloomington, Indiana, apartment in 1963 with a $1,500 investment, Bill Cook began to construct the wire guides, needles, and catheters that would become the foundation of the global multi-billion-dollar Cook Group. This story has been eloquently told in Bob Hammel’s The Bill Cook Story: Ready, Fire, Aim. The sequel to this story explores Cook’s final years, when the restoration work he championed, epitomized by the spectacular West Baden Hotel, became a driving force in his life and a source of great satisfaction and pleasure. Hammel takes us behind the scenes on the important restorations of Beck’s Mill and Old Centrum Church, and the remarkable commitment of Cook toward reviving his home town, Canton, Illinois. At the heart of the book are the events of Bill Cook’s final days and his death in April, 2011, but this solemn chronicle soon gives way to fond recollections of Cook’s extraordinary life and legacy, and to the continuing saga of the company he founded as it looks toward a bright future.
Ready, Fire, Aim!
Bill Cook epitomizes the American success story. His business ventures in medical devices, pharmaceuticals, genetics, real estate, retail management, and travel services have made him a billionaire. Yet, Cook continues to lead a modest life, involving himself in a variety of philanthropic activities that have included historic preservation and even a marching band. This riveting story is the first-ever biography of the entrepreneur who, working from the spare bedroom of his Bloomington, Indiana, apartment in 1963 with a $1,500 investment, began to construct the wire guides, needles, and catheters that would become the foundation of the global multi-billion-dollar Cook Group. Biographer Bob Hammel, with extraordinary access to Cook, his files, and his associates, has created a vivid portrait of this modern, multidimensional Horatio Alger—quirky humor, widely varied interests, and all. Informative and inspiring, this book celebrates an exceptional self-made individual.
Spin, Bureaucracy, and Self-Preservation in Government
The blame game, with its finger-pointing and mutual buck-passing, is a familiar feature of politics and organizational life, and blame avoidance pervades government and public organizations at every level. Political and bureaucratic blame games and blame avoidance are more often condemned than analyzed. In The Blame Game, Christopher Hood takes a different approach by showing how blame avoidance shapes the workings of government and public services. Arguing that the blaming phenomenon is not all bad, Hood demonstrates that it can actually help to pin down responsibility, and he examines different kinds of blame avoidance, both positive and negative.
Hood traces how the main forms of blame avoidance manifest themselves in presentational and "spin" activity, the architecture of organizations, and the shaping of standard operating routines. He analyzes the scope and limits of blame avoidance, and he considers how it plays out in old and new areas, such as those offered by the digital age of websites and e-mail. Hood assesses the effects of this behavior, from high-level problems of democratic accountability trails going cold to the frustrations of dealing with organizations whose procedures seem to ensure that no one is responsible for anything.
Delving into the inner workings of complex institutions, The Blame Game proves how a better understanding of blame avoidance can improve the quality of modern governance, management, and organizational design.
A Study in Management
Tracing the evolution of the Ashland Oil & Refining Company whose growth was phenomenal even in a rapidly expanding industry, author Joseph L. Massie attributes the success of the company to the flexible management policies of Paul G. Blazer.
Why We Fail to Do What's Right and What to Do about It
When confronted with an ethical dilemma, most of us like to think we would stand up for our principles. But we are not as ethical as we think we are. In Blind Spots, leading business ethicists Max Bazerman and Ann Tenbrunsel examine the ways we overestimate our ability to do what is right and how we act unethically without meaning to. From the collapse of Enron and corruption in the tobacco industry, to sales of the defective Ford Pinto, the downfall of Bernard Madoff, and the Challenger space shuttle disaster, the authors investigate the nature of ethical failures in the business world and beyond, and illustrate how we can become more ethical, bridging the gap between who we are and who we want to be.
Explaining why traditional approaches to ethics don't work, the book considers how blind spots like ethical fading--the removal of ethics from the decision--making process--have led to tragedies and scandals such as the Challenger space shuttle disaster, steroid use in Major League Baseball, the crash in the financial markets, and the energy crisis. The authors demonstrate how ethical standards shift, how we neglect to notice and act on the unethical behavior of others, and how compliance initiatives can actually promote unethical behavior. They argue that scandals will continue to emerge unless such approaches take into account the psychology of individuals faced with ethical dilemmas. Distinguishing our "should self" (the person who knows what is correct) from our "want self" (the person who ends up making decisions), the authors point out ethical sinkholes that create questionable actions.
Suggesting innovative individual and group tactics for improving human judgment, Blind Spots shows us how to secure a place for ethics in our workplaces, institutions, and daily lives.
In studying the impact of industry on class organization, social scientists have assumed that the effects of technological advance increase with time and that, as technology molds, dehumanizes, and alienates workers, the pressure mounts to change the system through political action. William H. Form tests these assumptions in his study.
The author considers whether workers have more to do with one another as societies industrialize, whether they become more involved in organizations, and whether these involvements become distinctively similar, creating an organizational basis for a solidary working-class movement. To examine these questions, he chooses four countries (India, Argentina, Italy, and the U.S.) that vary in the extent of their industrial development. He then compares samples of skilled, semiskilled, and unskilled workers in order to ascertain how specific technologies to which they have been exposed affect their behavior in systems such as the work group, union, party, neighborhood, and nation.
Originally published in 1976.
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