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Why Economies Grow: The Forces That Shape Prosperity and How We Can Get Them Working Again

Why Economies Grow: The Forces That Shape Prosperity and How We Can Get Them Working Again

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The past two years have been an unhappy and uncertain time for the once-unstoppable U.S. economy. The dot-com bubble has burst, the major stock indexes have lost hundreds of billions of dollars of value, there is a crisis of confidence in corporate governance, and the economy as a whole is growing sluggishly if at all. These developments have many people asking questions they thought we'd already answered: What makes economies grow? How can we get ours healthy again?

There are any number of one-dimensional answers to be had. Some focus on the national savings rate. Others take for granted that growth is driven by new technologies. In Why Economies Grow , New York Times columnist Jeff Madrick argues that these factors are not as dominant as many believe and all the emphasis they receive leads us to ignore other crucial factors. The most important of those neglected is the strength of market demand itself.

The surprising thesis at the heart of this book is that the process of growth is far more complex than most pundits, business journalists, and even economists believe. But it can be understood. Madrick re-examines the 1990s in light of earlier booms, shows why technology did not give rise to a "new economy," and tells what we need to do to restore rapid growth to the U.S. economy.

His original take on economic vitality, from the Middle Ages to the present, will surprise and inform everyone, and unsettle many. Avoiding the simplistic interpretations that now dominate economic discussion, Madrick proposes as economic agenda for the nation that is both historically well-founded and sharply different from the current one: an agenda that is led by government and that stresses the breadth and complexity of real growth.