The End of Normal

James K. Galbraith. Simon & Schuster, $26 (304p) ISBN 978-1-4516-4492-0
Since the 2008 financial debacle, University of Texas economist Galbraith – yes, he is Kenneth's son, and, yes, he is a stand-out economist in his own right – has made something of a splash. Galbraith criticizes efforts to revitalize banks and at all costs get back to "normal" growth. He explains convincingly why 2008 was a "turning point"– the end of normal – and gives an extended, articulate account of flush postwar economic growth, locating its end in the 1970s. He reviews the millennial derivatives orgy and the banking system's response. Drawing a dark portrait of high unemployment and unsustainable debt, and predicting an increasingly unstable Europe, Galbraith makes it clear he is no friend of "austerity" or capitalism's status quo. Bankers' orthodoxies about debt and credit go forward based on what Galbraith sees as postwar anomalies and false assumptions. In the portrait he draws, credit excesses in the 2010s are deep and worldwide, while energy, global leadership, and technology are wild cards. Systemic collapse, if and when it comes, he warns, will not be a pretty sight. His Cassandra-style conclusions are scattered and confrontational; his fixes are few. But Galbraith puts his pessimism into an engaging, plausible frame. His contentions deserve the attention of all economists and serious financial minds across the political spectrum. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/22/2014
Release date: 09/01/2014
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 304 pages - 978-1-4516-4493-7
Paperback - 291 pages - 978-1-4767-7770-2
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