How Markets Fail

The Logic of Economic Calamities by John Cassidy

  • Published: Sep 04, 2020

Behind the alarming headlines about job losses, bank bailouts, and corporate greed is a little-known story of bad ideas. For fifty years or more, economists have been busy developing elegant theories of how markets workhow they facilitate innovation, wealth... read more

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Details of How Markets Fail

Exact title of the book
How Markets Fail
Book author
John Cassidy
ISBN
9781429990691
Publisher
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Published
Nov 10, 2009
Language
English
Format
PDF, FB2, EPUB, MOBI
Pages
400
File size (in PDF)
3600 kB

Some brief overview of book

Behind the alarming headlines about job losses, bank bailouts, and corporate greed is a little-known story of bad ideas. For fifty years or more, economists have been busy developing elegant theories of how markets workhow they facilitate innovation, wealth creation, and an efficient allocation of society's resources. But what about when markets don't work?

What about when they lead to stock market bubbles, glaring inequality, polluted rivers, real estate crashes, and credit crunches? In How Markets Fail, John Cassidy describes the rising influence of what he calls utopian economicsthinking that is blind to how real people act and that denies the many ways an unregulated free market can produce disastrous unintended consequences. He then looks to the leading edge of economic theory, including behavioral economics, to offer a new understanding of the economyone that casts aside the old assumption that people and firms make decisions purely on the basis of rational self-interest.

Taking the global financial crisis and current recession as his starting point, Cassidy explores a world in which everybody is connected and social contagion is the norm. In such an environment, he shows, individual behavioral biases and kinksoverconfidence, envy, copycat behavior, and myopiaoften give rise to troubling macroeconomic phenomena, such as oil price spikes, CEO greed cycles, and boom-and-bust waves in the housing market. These are the inevitable outcomes of what Cassidy refers to as "rational irrationality"self-serving behavior in a modern market setting.

Combining on-the-ground reporting, clear explanations of esoteric economic theories, and even a little crystal-ball gazing, Cassidy warns that in today's economic crisis, conforming to antiquated orthodoxies isn't just misguidedit's downright dangerous. How Markets Fail offers a new, enlightening way to understand the force of the irrational in our volatile global economy.

About author

Cassidy is a journalist at The New Yorker and a frequent contributor to The New York Review of Books. He is the author of Dot. con How America Lost Its Mind and Money in the Internet Era and lives in New York City.

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