The Economists' Hour: Book summary and reviews of The Economists' Hour by Binyamin Appelbaum

The Economists' Hour

False Prophets, Free Markets, and the Fracture of Society

by Binyamin Appelbaum

The Economists' Hour by Binyamin Appelbaum X
The Economists' Hour by Binyamin Appelbaum
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Book Summary

In this fascinating character-driven history, a New York Times editorial writer and Pulitzer Prize finalist spotlights the American economists who championed the rise of markets and fundamentally reshaped the modern world.

Before the 1960s, American politicians had never paid much attention to economists. But as the post-World War II boom began to sputter, economists gained influence and power -- first in the United States and then around the world as their ideas inspired nations to curb government, unleash corporations, and hasten globalization.

Milton Friedman's libertarian ideals, Arthur Laffer's supply-side economics and Paul Volcker's austere campaign against inflation all left a profound mark on American life. So did lesser-known figures like Walter Oi, a blind economist whose calculations influenced President Nixon's decision to end military conscription; Alfred Kahn, who deregulated air travel; and Thomas Schelling, who put a dollar value on human life.

The economists promised steady growth and broadly-shared prosperity, but they failed to deliver. Instead, the single-minded embrace of markets has come at the expense of soaring economic inequality, the faltering health of liberal democracy, and the prospects of future generations.

Timely, engaging, and expertly researched, The Economists' Hour is a "powerful must-read" (Mohamed A. El-Erian, New York Times bestselling author) about the rise and fall of a revolution-and a compelling call for people to retake control of markets.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"This thoroughly researched, comprehensive, and critical account of the economic philosophies that have reigned for the past half century powerfully indicts them." - Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Anyone who wonders why government officials still take the Laffer curve seriously need go no further than this lucid book." - Kirkus Reviews

"I very much enjoyed reading The Economists' Hour, an entertaining and well-written look at how market-oriented ideas rose from the academy and transformed nations. I do not agree with each and every perspective, but found this a valuable and highly recommendable book, which I devoured in a single sitting." - Tyler Cowen, author of The Great Stagnation

"Binyamin Appelbaum has written a powerful must-read for all those interested in reinvigorating the credibility of economics, especially in policymaking circles. Through an engaging discussion of how economists' influence grew and spread, he shows how free-market economics evolved into an over-promising 'affirming religion,' only to disappoint too many of its followers and lead others astray." - Mohamed A. El-Erian, author of New York Times bestsellers When Markets Collide and The Only Game in Town

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Author Information

Binyamin Appelbaum

Binyamin Appelbaum writes about economics and business for the editorial page of the New York Times. From 2010 to 2019, he was a Washington correspondent for the Times, covering economic policy in the aftermath of the 2008 crisis. He previously worked for The Charlotte Observer, where his reporting on subprime lending won a George Polk Award and was a finalist for the 2008 Pulitzer Prize.

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