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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: economics, Most Recent at Top [Help]
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1. House of Debt awarded the 2016 Laing Prize

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***

The University of Chicago Press is pleased to announce that House of Debt: How They (and You) Caused the Great Recession and How We Can Prevent It from Happening Again, by Amir Sufi and Atif Mian, has been awarded the 2016 Gordon J. Laing Prize. The prize was announced during a reception on April 21st at the University of Chicago Quadrangle Club. The Gordon J. Laing Prize is awarded annually by the University of Chicago Press to the faculty author, editor, or translator of a book published in the previous three years that has brought the greatest distinction to the Press’s list. Books published in 2013 or 2014 were eligible for this year’s award. The prize is named in honor of the scholar who, serving as general editor from 1909 until 1940, firmly established the character and reputation of the University of Chicago Press as the premier academic publisher in the United States.

Taking a close look at the financial crisis and housing bust of 2008, House of Debt digs deep into economic data to show that it wasn’t the banks themselves that caused the crisis to be so bad—it was an incredible increase in household debt in the years leading up to it that, when the crisis hit, led consumers to dramatically pull back on their spending. Understanding those underlying causes, the authors argue, is key to figuring out not only exactly how the crisis happened, but how we can prevent its recurrence in the future.

Originally published in hardcover in May 2014, the book has received extensive praise in such publications as the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Financial Times, Economist, New York Review of Books, and other outlets.

Amir Sufi is the Chicago Board of Trade Professor of Finance at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. Atif Mian is the Theodore A. Wells ’29 Professor of Economics at Princeton University and director of the Julis-Rabinowitz Center for Public Policy and Finance.

The Press is delighted to name Professor Sufi to a distinguished list of previous University of Chicago faculty recipients that includes Adrian Johns, Robert Richards, Martha Feldman, Bernard E. Harcourt, Philip Gossett, W. J. T. Mitchell, and many more.

To read more about House of Debt, click here.

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2. Britain and the EU: going nowhere fast

A couple of years ago, I wrote about the consequences of David Cameron’s Bloomberg speech, where he set out his plans for a referendum on British membership of the EU. I was rather dubious about such a vote even happening, and even more so about the quality of the debate that would ensue. As much as I was wrong about the former, the latter has been more than borne out by events so far.

The post Britain and the EU: going nowhere fast appeared first on OUPblog.

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3. Who was Bill Philips?

Austerity, uncertainty, instability … all problems we associate with Europe today as it cycles from pre-GFC exuberance to today’s austerity. But to put things in perspective, these are minor problems compared what our grandparents endured after World War Two. In Britain many people did not have enough to eat, the government had secret plans for national catastrophe, the Cold War was raging, the colonies erupting, and Sterling was in crisis. In those days there were few policy economists, and macroeconomics was caught in a battle between non-interventionist classical economics and the Keynesian revolution of demand management.

The post Who was Bill Philips? appeared first on OUPblog.

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4. The questionable logic of international economic sanctions

Whatever the international crisis – whether inter-state war (Russia-Ukraine), civil strife (Syria), nuclear proliferation (North Korea), gross violations of human rights (Israel), or violent non-state actors on the rampage (ISIS, al-Qaeda) – governments, pundits and NGOs always seem to formulate the same response: impose economic sanctions. In the mid-20th century, only five countries were targeted by sanctions; by 2000, 50 were. Once obscure and rarely used, sanctions are now central to international economic and security policy.

The post The questionable logic of international economic sanctions appeared first on OUPblog.

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5. “The economics of happiness” – an extract from Happiness Explained

What is happiness and how can we promote it? These questions are central to human existence and human flourishing now plays a central role in the assessment of national and global progress. Paul Anand shows why the traditional national income approach is limited as a measure of human wellbeing and demonstrates how the contributors to happiness, wellbeing, and quality of life can be measured and understood across the human life course. The following extract looks at the connection between income and wellbeing.

The post “The economics of happiness” – an extract from Happiness Explained appeared first on OUPblog.

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6. “The experience of chocolate craving”- an extract from The Economics of Chocolate

It is indisputable that chocolate consumption gives instant pleasure and comfort, especially during episodes of ‘emotional eating’, which involves searching for food (generally in large amounts) even if not physiologically hungry in order to get relief from a negative mood or bad feelings (e.g. stressful life situations, anxiety, depression). The pleasure experienced in eating chocolate can be, first of all, due to neurophysiological components.

The post “The experience of chocolate craving”- an extract from The Economics of Chocolate appeared first on OUPblog.

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7. If the US economy is so good, why does it feel so bad?

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“If the US economy is so good, why does it feel so bad?”*
by Salvatore Babones

(*adapted from Sixteen for ’16: A Progressive Agenda for a Better America, first published on the Policy Press Blog)

***

With a 2 percent annual growth rate, 5 percent unemployment, and zero inflation, the US economy is the envy of the world. Growth seems to be rising and unemployment seems to be falling, which means that most analysts expect an even better US economy in 2016. Throw in low gas prices and a strong dollar, and what’s not to like?

If the US economy is doing so well, why are ordinary people so unhappy with their own economic prospects?

The aggregate US economy may be growing but most people’s personal economies are not. Census Bureau data show that real per capita income is still below 2007 levels—despite six years of solid economic growth. And Bureau of Labor Statistics data show that despite today’s low unemployment rates the jobs still haven’t come back.

Back in 2006 the employment rate of the civilian population—the proportion of adults who had jobs—was over 63 percent. Allowing for people who are still in school, people who are retired, people who are disabled, and people who prefer not to work, that was just about everyone. When the economy is doing well, people who want jobs can get jobs.

Compare that with 2015. For all of 2015 to date the employment rate has been stuck below 60 percent. In fact, the employment rate has been not risen above 60 percent since the technical beginning of the “recovery” in June, 2009. Over the last six years, the economy has recovered. Employment has not.

The difference between the 63 percent employment rate of 2006 and the (well under) 60 percent employment rate of 2015 is roughly 7.5 million people. That’s the number of jobs missing in today’s roaring economy. Bringing today’s employment rate back up to 2006 levels would require the creation of more than 7.5 million new jobs.

What’s more, since the Global Financial Crisis there has been a shift from full-time to part-time employment. Some 2.5 million full-time jobs have disappeared, to be replaced by part-time employment. Assuming that people have basically the same preferences as they had before the recession hit, this means that the US economy is really short 10 million full-time jobs.

And remember, this is the economy at its best. The current “recovery” won’t last forever. It is already the fourth longest expansion of all time and about to overtake the World War II period to become the third longest. If the next recession hits while the economy is already 10 million jobs short of full employment, God help us.

The managers of the US economy don’t seem to be worried about this. On December 16, 2015 the Federal Reserve raised interest rates (albeit by a tiny amount) for the first time in seven years. The Fed expects that “economic activity will continue to expand at a moderate pace and labor market indicators will continue to strengthen.” In other words, the Fed expects more good news.

More good news for whom? As analyses from the Financial Times show, banks are increasingly parking their money at the Fed, not lending it out to businesses and consumers. Along with the Fed’s increase in lending rates (from 0 to 0.25 percent) came an increase in the interest rate the Fed pays banks on their own deposits at the Fed (from 0.25 percent to 0.5 percent).

For the last six years banks have parked trillions of dollars of excess funds in their accounts at the Federal Reserve. After all, they can earn 0.25 percent risk-free by borrowing money from the Fed and placing it directly in their own accounts at the Fed. Banks now hold some $2.5 trillion in excess reserves in these accounts. Those holdings give banks collectively an extra $6 billion in annual risk-free profits.

Before the Global Financial Crisis, US banks held virtually $0 in excess reserves in their Federal Reserve accounts.

What we see today is a US economy that is great for banks, great for bankers, and not so great for ordinary workers. Employment rates are down, employment hours are down, and wages are down. Bank profits are up, up, up to record levels. It’s no wonder that ordinary people are not as optimistic as the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.

In the end, the Fed can’t fix the problems of the US economy. The Fed can help the banks (and the bankers who serve on its boards) but it can’t make companies hire more people. Only government can do that, and the US government has shown no willingness to create jobs in this recession, or even in this century.

The US government should be borrowing that cheap Fed money and using it to put people to work. Education, healthcare, and infrastructure could all absorb millions of workers to do jobs that desperately need to be done. President Obama should make this clear to Congress and put people to work. Fixing the jobs crisis can’t wait for the next president—or the next recession. It is already long overdue.

Salvatore Babones is associate professor of sociology and social policy at the University of Sydney. His new book Sixteen for ’16: A Progressive Agenda for a Better America is the first book in the Policy Press Shorts series. For more information about the policies proposed in Sixteen for ’16, click here.

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8. The Political Origins of Inequality

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“How To Spread the World’s Wealth beyond Corporate Elites,”
from The Political Origins of Inequality:

We have reached a crossroads in our history. For all the achievements and riches of our time, the world has never been so unequal or more unjust. A century ago, at the time of the First World War, the richest 20% of the world’s population earned eleven times more than the poorest 20%. By the end of the twentieth century they earned seventy-four times as much. Today, despite seven decades of international development, three decades of the Washington Consensus, and a decade and a half of Millennium Development Goals, our world is even more divided among the haves, the have-nots, and—as President George W. Bush once quipped in an after-dinner speech—the have-mores.

When it comes to wealth, rather than income, the picture is more extreme. Globally, the richest 1% now own nearly half of all the world’s wealth. The poorest 50% of the world, by contrast—fully 3 billion people—own less than 1% of its wealth. Anyone with assets of more than $10,000 a year is an exception to the global norm and is better off than 70% of everyone else alive. Yet most of us are so preoccupied by the relative few with more that we rarely stop to notice this. There is growing awareness today of the consequences in rich countries of rising income inequality: we know what it means to talk of the 1% there. But when it comes to the much greater gaps between rich and poor the world over, we confine ourselves still to talk of “global poverty”.

How often are we told that, if only we could see what life is like in a cramped slum in Dhaka or on some scrabble of land in rural Chad, we would be moved to help? But the problem is not one of our empathy. We are all familiar with the shape of a human body in hunger. The details, like glass paper, scarcely catch the imagination any more. It is not one of distance, either. A growing number of the wealthiest people in this world live in high-rise apartments that tower up and over the slums below—and they know only too well that before all the “beautiful forevers” will be lived a thousand impossible todays.

The problem, rather, is one of perspective, of what we choose not to see. There is no shortage of books telling us “why nations fail” or what “the bottom billion” on this planet must do to succeed, no shortage of policy papers from the World Bank or the International Monetary Fund saying much the same. But we still have not properly confronted how the poverty and suffering of a great many are connected to the wealth and privilege of a few. We are slow to admit that the problem is one not of poverty traps at the bottom of the pyramid but of a great confinement of wealth at the top. Total global wealth was estimated at $263 trillion in mid-2014, up from $117 trillion in 2000. That was the same year that the world agreed to bind itself to achieving the Millennium Development Goals by 2015 (with the headline ambition of halving the proportion of people living on less than $1.25 a day). Those goals end this year, in 2015, in many cases not having been met. Meanwhile, global wealth keeps on growing: by 8.3% from mid-2013 to mid-2014 alone.

There is a politics to this, but it is all too often ignored in a debate which to date has preferred to focus on the economics of who has what. The [it’s time to] paint this wider political context back into the picture, since our problems stem less from market forces than from the failed policies behind them. If this is partly cause for despair, then it is also cause for hope: our present predicaments are more amenable to change than we are often encouraged to believe.

But acting on this requires first grasping the full scale of the problem before us. Few of the world’s richest people intentionally exploit the world’s poor, it is obvious to note, and none of us is personally responsible for the plight of distant strangers. But some of us have not earned the base privilege we enjoy in this life: it is ours by fortune of inheritance and geographical luck, for the most part, and it comes at the cost of others.

To read the full excerpt at Alternet, click here.

To read more about The Political Origins of Inequality, click here.

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9. The EU and public procurement law

The stakes cannot be higher for the EU. Currently, the total public expenditure directed by the Member States in procuring goods, works and services accounts for over €1 trillion. Public procurement in the Member States is a highly fragmented and complex process.

The post The EU and public procurement law appeared first on OUPblog.

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10. Place of the Year 2015 nominee spotlight: Greece

Earlier in the year, Greece faced some unsettling economic troubles. The country voted on a referendum that would decide whether they would pull their membership from the European Union (and thus, the union's currency and economic system). It's a wonder to think that this country, less than a decade ago, was among one of the richer nations.

The post Place of the Year 2015 nominee spotlight: Greece appeared first on OUPblog.

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11. Should intellectual property be abolished?

The Economist has recently popularised the notion that patents are bad for innovation. Is this right? In my view, this assessment results from too high an expectation of what should be achieved by patents or other intellectual property. Critics of intellectual property rights seem to think that they should be tested by whether they actually increase creativity.

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12. Why Henry George matters

What value does the story of Henry George, a self-taught economist from the late nineteenth century, hold for Americans living in the early 21st century? Quite a lot, if we stop to consider the ways in which contemporary American society has come to resemble America in the late-nineteenth century, a period popularly known as the Gilded Age. As in our times, that era was marked by a dramatic increase in income inequality. It also witnessed a sharp and disturbing rise in the numbers of Americans living in poverty, even as Wall Street boomed and overall productivity soared.

The post Why Henry George matters appeared first on OUPblog.

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13. The Icelanders, the Cypriots, and the Greeks: is history repeating itself?

In 2008 Iceland experienced one of the worst financial crises in history, which involved the collapse of all three of its major commercial banks. The causes of this collapse were numerous and complex, and included the banks’ difficulty in refinancing their short-term debt and a run on their deposits.

The post The Icelanders, the Cypriots, and the Greeks: is history repeating itself? appeared first on OUPblog.

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14. Simplicity in a complex world

There is a polarization in management and policy thinking. On the one hand, there is an increasing focus, for organizations, on defining detailed rules, standardizing methods, evidencing and measuring outcomes. The intention is to make the hospital, school, or firm work as an efficient, optimized, well-oiled machine.

The post Simplicity in a complex world appeared first on OUPblog.

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15. Four top tips about student finance

Starting University can be daunting. For most, becoming a University student is the beginning of a new academic challenge and social life. However, with these exciting ventures comes financial responsibility.

The post Four top tips about student finance appeared first on OUPblog.

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16. Greek wages in crisis: Whose loss and whose hope?

Anyone who is even remotely familiar with the crisis in Greece must be aware of its record-high unemployment. From an already elevated value of 8% in 2008, the Greek unemployment rate rocketed to 27% in 2013 and has since remained in that ballpark.

The post Greek wages in crisis: Whose loss and whose hope? appeared first on OUPblog.

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17. The new intergovernmentalism and the Greek crisis

Just as some thought it was over, the Greek crisis has entered into a new and dramatic stage. The Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras, has declared snap elections to be held on the 20th September. This comes just as the European Stability Mechanism had transferred 13 billion Euros to Athens, out of which 3.2 billion was immediately sent to the European Central Bank to repay a bond of that amount due on the 20th August.

The post The new intergovernmentalism and the Greek crisis appeared first on OUPblog.

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18. Greece: The paradox of power

Why doesn’t Greece reform? Over the past few years the inability of successive Greek governments to deliver on the demands of international creditors has been a key feature of Greece’s bailout drama. Frustrated observers have pointed to various pathologies of the Greek political system to explain this underperformance.

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19. The future of development – aid and beyond

Just over a year ago, in March 2014, UNU-WIDER published a Report called: ‘What do we know about aid as we approach 2015?’ It notes the many successes of aid in a variety of sectors, and that in order to remain relevant and effective beyond 2015 it must learn to deal with, amongst other things, the new geography of poverty; the challenge of fragile states; and the provision of global public goods, including environmental protection.

The post The future of development – aid and beyond appeared first on OUPblog.

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20. “It’s an exciting time to be an editor”: Dan Parker on the OUPblog

It’s an exciting time to be an editor of the OUPblog. Over the course of the last ten years, the blog has gone from strength to strength. In order to help the blog continue to develop, the focus has been on reaching the right communities with the right content.

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21. William Godwin on debt

William Godwin did not philosophically address the question of debt obligations, although he often had many. Perhaps this helps to explain the omission. It’s very likely that Godwin would deny that there is such a thing as the obligation to repay debts, and his creditors wouldn’t have liked that.

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22. A fist-full of dollar bills

The next time you are slipping the valet a couple of folded dollar bills, take a good look at those George Washingtons. You might never see them again. Every few years, there is a renewed push for the United States to replace the dollar bill with its shiny cousin, the one dollar coin.

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23. In memoriam: Terry Vaughn

Oxford University Press mourns the passing of Terry Vaughn, friend, colleague, and fellow traveler. Terry was a legendary editor whose influence in economics and finance publishing was powerfully in evidence for decades and whose contributions spanned the programs of MIT Press, Princeton University Press, and Oxford University Press. His most important legacy, however, is his family and the network of friends and admirers he leaves behind.

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24. Eroding norms in reinsurance trading: Can it cause industry collapse?

In the face of severe disasters, or ‘Acts of God’, society turns to reinsurance. It is a financial market that insures insurance firms, and thus trades in large-scale disasters. Reinsurance is therefore the backbone for economic and social recovery in times of unimaginable losses, such as Hurricane Katrina or the attack on the World Trade Centre, through enabling insurers to pay their claims.

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25. How much do you know about sources of energy? [quiz]

Energy consumption is changing. Governments and businesses around the world are exploring low carbon options including biofuels, natural gas and wind in an attempt to achieve longstanding energy security. Production of new sources has led to controversies about economic and environmental impacts and the trade-offs they generate between food and fuel production, energy security and environmental quality.

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