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The Return of Depression Economics and the Crisis of 2008 (Hardcover)

Book Description
Winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics

Product Description

In 1999, in The Return of Depression Economics, Paul Krugman surveyed the economic crises that had swept across Asia and Latin America, and pointed out that those crises were a warning for all of us: like diseases that have become resistant to antibiotics, the economic maladies that caused the Great Depression were making a comeback. In the years that followed, as Wall Street boomed and financial wheeler-dealers made vast profits, the international crises of the 1990s faded from memory. But now depression economics has come to America: when the great housing bubble of the mid-2000s burst, the U.S. financial system proved as vulnerable as those of developing countries caught up in earlier crises and a replay of the 1930s seems all too possible.

In this new, greatly updated edition of The Return of Depression Economics, Krugman shows how the failure of regulation to keep pace with an increasingly out-of-control financial system set the United States, and the world as a whole, up for the greatest financial crisis since the 1930s. He also lays out the steps that must be taken to contain the crisis, and turn around a world economy sliding into a deep recession. Brilliantly crafted in Krugman's trademark style--lucid, lively, and supremely informed--this new edition of The Return of Depression Economics will become an instant cornerstone of the debate over how to respond to the crisis.

Suggestions for where to go from here, November 28, 2008
By Daniel Bates (looking for answers)

Nearly a decade ago, Paul Krugman released the first edition of "The Return of Depression Economics," a book that took a close look at the economic crises in Asia and South America. Then he suggested that we were threatened to return to the economic conditions that caused the Great Depression. Since that time, Wall Street and our economy cooked (minus a minor recession) and people forgot all about his book.

Now that the housing bubble burst and the mortgage and subsequent financial crises have taken hold, Krugman created an updated edition of his original book. It's true that the book is greatly updated with lots of new content including:

~ The failure of regulation to keep pace with an increasingly out-of-control financial system
~ Steps that must be taken to contain the crisis (a rarity in the spate of books coming forth in response to the failing economy)

All in all, this book has its place in our analysis of the crisis and some of his suggestions for moving forward are good ones. His writing style is clever and well-informed.

Another book I recommend strongly that has been a tremendous help to me in dealing with the financial crisis and the mounting stress at work is The Emotional Intelligence Quick Book

Demand Side Economics, November 27, 2008
By Izaak VanGaalen (San Francisco, CA USA)

Depression economics is when conventional economic wisdom no longer applies. In a "normal" recession the Federal Reserve would lower interest rates in order to stimulate consumption and investment. According to Paul Krugman, that remedy is no longer getting any traction. He claims it's time to cast conventional economic wisdom to the wind. The economy is in such a deep hole that he's calling for another $600 billion in federal outlays. This is in addition to the $700 billion already asked for by Treasury Secretary Paulson, and looks very similar to Obama's spending plans for next year.

This is a re-issue of a book written by Krugman in 1999 after multiple economic crises in the decade of the 1990s. Japan had just lost a decade's worth of growth for responding too timidly to the bursting of their stock and real estate bubbles. Krugman also analyzes the various currency crises of that decade: from Britain and Sweden in the early 90s, to Mexico and Argentina in the mid-90s, and finally to Brazil and East Asia in the late 90s. These crises occurred as globalization was doing its work in the currency markets.

In his analysis of Japan's lost decade, he argues that everything must be done to increase aggregate demand. The collapse of demand caused by loss of confidence and fear had severely depressed spending and investment. At that point only government spending can lessen the severity of the recession and perhaps even turn the economy around. In Krugman's view, the lackluster response was the reason it took Japan so long to recover. He believes that one should only worry about deficits and debt when the economy is on the rebound. (This is completely contrary to what Robert Samuelson advises in The Great Inflation and Its Aftermath: The Past and Future of American Affluence.)

Krugman claims that the financial crises of 2008 is "functionally similar" to the Great Depression. He does not believe, however, that it will be as severe. We now have the financial tools and institutions - and the hindsight - to make for a softer landing. Nevertheless, this crisis has no end in sight yet. The one big thing that everyone seems to know now is that one does not increase taxes and implement budget cuts during a crisis, as Herbert Hoover did. And which FDR did several years into the Depression.

Another lesson that Krugman derives from the 90's is the need for greater regulation. As one country after another experienced currency problems from investor flight, there was one country that did better than others to weather the storm: that country was Malaysia. It's leader Mahathir Muhammed was of the same mind as Krugman. Managing the capital flows in and out of the country will soften the blows, should foreign investors decide to pull out. The conventional wisdom of the time was that price stability and currency convertibilty were the only things needed, and that the market would take care of the rest. However, in this case, a little more regulation saved them from a crisis.

Depression economics goes against the grain of conventional economic wisdom, and given the current crisis it is coming back into fashion, even among those who preached deregulation and fiscal restraint a decade ago. This theory should be applied sparringly, only in extreme cases - the present crisis probably qualifies. It should not be applied to every minor recession that comes along. The danger of overuse of depression economics is that it can cause a toxic brew of inflation and stagnation - not to mention corruption.