Sunday, November 7, 2010

Stiglitz and Davis reading

I found Freefall by Joseph Stiglitz more of a rant than anything else although some times buried within the chapters there would be a nugget of information or two. Unfortunately, they must not have been very valuable nuggets since I can barely recall what they were. I thought that overall the book was too much of score-settling than a rational discourse of the events. In one book (but fortunately not the same chapter) he criticizes the authorities for adopting a too big to fail policy but at the same time criticizes them for letting Lehman fail. This inconsistency annoyed me more than anything else and I found it hard to get through the rest of the book after that.

The tenor of the writing improves half way through the book and I think the few chapters or so hit the correct note on what the book should have sounded like. These are the chapters on policy recommendations and what the administration could have done better. I really wish he would stop beating the IMF tree and bringing up the Asian crisis. Yes, we get it but it really is beside the point here. I had thought that he would delve more deeply into the intellectual debate within economics and how free markets triumphed and even converted some one like Larry Summers but he didn't get into the academic part of the debate. This would be left to two other books (reviews of How Markets Fail and The Myth of the Rational Market later.)

On the other hand, Managed by the Markets by Gerald Davis was a very nice historical overview of how finance has managed to dominate the economy. I found it easier to read than expected and actually enjoyed it more than I thought I would. (Usually, history! Uggh!)

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