End This Depression Now! by Paul Krugman
Published April, 2012.
I learned many things from reading Krugman's new book. 3 of which I will share:
1. That I like Paul Krugman's books better than I like his NYT's column.
2. That a high unemployment, stratified and slow-growing economy is most likely our "new normal."
3. That we need to have a serious (and hopefully informed) discussion in this country about Keynesian economics.
On the first point, I think that Paul Krugman does better with a book length format than the near sound-bite space available in a column. Krugman is clearly livid that the the Obama administration failed to push forward a stimulus plan that he considers anywhere near large enough to bring down high unemployment, but his arguments in End This Depression Now! come across as more balanced and measured than his NYT's writing.
The long form of a book allows Krugman the space to develop his arguments and to support his points with evidence and historical examples. While the book contains plenty of politics and descriptions of the failings of politicians (of both parties), it is more of an economic than a political treatise. I always felt that Krugman was on surer ground when explaining economic principles rather than political motivations, a belief that reading End This Depression Now! only reinforces.
Should you read this book? If you are already predisposed to the core Keynesian belief that government should have a role in stimulating demand (by spending) during a recession (low consumer/business spending and idle economic capacity) then reading this book will only strengthen this belief. Getting a good grasp on the fundamental economic arguments (both for and against) for Keynesian type stimulus is a worthwhile activity for anyone interested in the workings of the economy.
But what if you are of a more conservative bent, outside of Krugman's usual readership? For you I have an even greater hope that you will read End This Depression Now! so that we can go to coffee (I'm buying) and we can discuss what you make of Krugman's arguments. I found Krugman to be persuasive, and I'd like to hear your arguments in response.
What are you reading?