The global sovereign debt crisis has impacted our world economically almost like a 3rd world war. And because money was thrown out with rabid fury, it is boomeranging back with a vengeance. In his quintessential narrative-style nonfiction book, Boomerang, Michael Lewis presents to the reader four case studies: Iceland, Greece, Ireland, and Germany. Lewis travels the world examining how each of these countries dealt with the collective problem of debt and how their cultural characteristics impacted the citizens.
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In 2002, Daniel Kahneman won the Nobel Prize in Economics, which isn’t all that unusual until one realizes that Kahneman isn’t an economist at all, but rather a psychologist. The reason that Kahneman won the Nobel is because he has dedicated his life (along with his partner Amos Tversky) to attempting to disprove the rational agent model that is a major underlying assumption of modern economics. The rational agent assumption assumes that all people are entirely rational and make the decisions that maximize utility for them (the people in this case are popularly called Homo Economis). Kahnemen thinks this isn’t true due to innate biases inside people and lays out why in Thinking Fast and Slow, which is an overview of his life’s work.
Charlie LeDuff’s Detroit: An American Autopsy is brutally honest. In a story filled with corruption, anger, and even laughter, LeDuff goes into detail about the crumbling of an American city, and what is left of it. After leaving a job with the New York Times, LeDuff comes to find what was once a city that represented the American Dream, now rotting and broken.
Is it wrong to pay children for getting good grades? Should there be a market for jumping the queue and cutting in line? Is it ethical to buy and sell human organs? It is quite apparent that in today’s society there are markets for many goods and services that have not historically been for sale, such as the right to pollute the atmosphere, auctioning citizenship and many other topics. Michael Sandel attempts to answer one of the biggest ethical questions of our time in What Money Can’t Buy: is there something wrong with a world in which everything is for sale?
What leads to the prosperity of nations? It is an interesting question that many have tried to answer throughout time. It puzzles many that a small island off the northern edge continental Europe can come to dominate the globe for a period of time. There surely is not one answer to this question and, in fact, there are many more that can be written. Niall Ferguson takes on this question through the effect that financial institutions have on the prosperity of nations in his financial history of the world in The Ascent of Money.