From the chief economic commentator for the Financial Times—a brilliant tour d’horizon of the new global economy
There have been many books that have sought to explain the causes and courses of the financial and economic crisis that began in 2007. The Shifts and the Shocks is not another detailed history of the crisis but is the most persuasive and complete account yet published of what the crisis should teach us about modern economies and economics. Written with all the intellectual command and trenchant judgment that have made Martin Wolf one of the world’s most influential economic commentators, The Shifts and the Shocks matches impressive analysis with no-holds-barred criticism and persuasive prescription for a more stable future. It is a book no one with an interest in global affairs will want to neglect.
Tectonic changes in the global economy yielded collapse and an ill-judged fiscal austerity, according to this far-reaching study of the Great Recession. Financial Times editor Wolf (Fixing Global Finance) recaps the ongoing slump from the panic of 2008 and the frantic efforts of central banks to shore up the financial system, to the turn towards tight fiscal and monetary policies in the West in 2010, which he blames for the sluggish recovery and the subsequent Eurozone debt crisis. He ties these recent "shocks" to decades-long sea changes in the world economy: globalization and intensified competition; a "savings-glut" with few profitable outlets for investment; economic inequality that shrinks wages and demand. Wolf's provocative indictment of economic orthodoxy suggests that more government debt and fiscal stimulus are needed, and that responsible creditors like Germany are as culpable as bankrupt countries like Greece. He floats a number of radical reform proposals, including measures that would essentially abolish the private banking system. Although readers with some understanding of macroeconomics will profit the most, Wolf's discussions of the complex dynamics of investment, banking, trade and monetary policy are lucid, and his incisive analysis makes a compelling case for bold, activist economic policy.