Top positive review
Substantive Tutorial *****, Smartypants Tone **
Reviewed in the United States on June 2, 2016
I greatly admire Paul Krugman, have read with pleasure his popular books and one of his scholarly monographs, and look forward to his column every Monday and Friday morning.
But I docked this slender, smart book a star for its condescending "I'm right, you're dumb," tone, which of course is an occupational hazard for the good doctor. It seems true, though, that the austerity policies advocated by the other side defy comprehension: paring government services to the bone, paired with tax cuts that benefit mostly the wealthy, would by simple arithmetic wreck the economy (as they have caused persistent stagnation in Great Britain and elsewhere in other OECD countries as they crawl on their stomachs toward resumed economic growth). (Think about it: to say that austerity policies will usher in a new age of business confidence that will liberate factors and thus drive growth, as in "economic contraction will lead to economic expansion," does seem, on its face, as loopy as it turns out to be.) So I dock PK a star for the exuberance he demonstrates in expounding on his own correctness (and for repeatedly insisting he's more interested in talking about what to do to end the continued high unemployment rather than in rehashing history, when for most of 200 pp - of 239 main-text pp - what PK gives us is analytic history - very finely wrought, tightly argued analytic history).
So, substantively, this for me is a five-star tutorial, with two chapters on banking, finance, and inequality - "Bankers Gone Wild" and "The New Gilded Age" - alone worth the purchase price.