Finance and the Good Society

Robert J. Shiller. Princeton Univ., $24.95 (288p) ISBN 978-0-691-15488-6
Shiller, professor of economics at Yale and author of the best-selling Irrational Exuberance, examines the future of finance in this timely new book. Recognizing the anger of many Americans—as evidenced in part by the rise of the Occupy movement—Shiller suggests that the way to fix our increasingly unequal society is through the "democratization" and "humanization" of finance. From bankers to philanthropists to lobbyists, he outlines the key players and grapples with the pervasive mood of discontent towards the financial industry. Apologist in tone, Shiller pushes for financial innovation and altruism as a means of helping society achieve its goals. While he notes that this book is for the general public, it was originally intended for his students at Yale, and the academic tone persists. His attempts to connect with a wider readership are often misguided—Joni Mitchell, Walt Whitman, and Pablo Escobar (among others) each make a cameo for a paragraph or two, never to be mentioned again. Shiller's biggest difficulty is that he tries for an unruly combination of economics, history, psychology, neuroscience, and philosophy. The resulting jumble of information overwhelms his most fundamental idea: that expanding the scope of finance will help create a good society. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/23/2012
Release date: 03/01/2012
Genre: Nonfiction
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