Authors: Alberto Alesina, Carlo Favero and Francesco Giavazzi – Harvard University, Bocconi University
Fiscal austerity is hugely controversial. Opponents argue that it can trigger downward growth spirals and become self-defeating. Supporters argue that budget deficits have to be tackled aggressively at all times and at all costs. In this masterful book, three of today’s leading policy experts cut through the political noise to demonstrate that there is not one type of austerity but many. Looking at thousands of fiscal measures adopted by sixteen advanced economies since the late 1970s, Austerity assesses the relative effectiveness of tax increases and spending cuts at reducing debt. It shows that spending cuts have much smaller costs in terms of output losses than tax increases. Spending cuts can sometimes be associated with output gains in the case of expansionary austerity and are much more successful than tax increases at reducing the growth of debt.
Author: Ivan Moscati – University of Insubria
The book brings into focus the interplay between the evolution of utility analysis, economists’ ideas about utility measurement, and their conception of what measurement in general means. It also explores the relationships between the history of utility measurement in economics, the history of the measurement of sensations in psychology, and the history of measurement theory in general. Finally, the book discusses some methodological problems related to utility measurement, such as the epistemological status of the utility concept and its measures.
Modern ideas on utility, including behavioral and choiceless interpretations, cannot be understood without knowing the past, including the marginal and ordinal revolutions. This book, written by the greatest historian on these topics, gives a full and perfect account. It is a must for everyone who really wants to understand modern economics
Peter Wakker, Erasmus University Rotterdam
Author: Richard Thomas Curtin – University of Michigan
Whereas conventional theories presume that consumers play a passive role in the macro economy, simply reacting to current trends in incomes, prices, and interest rates, Curtin proposes a new empirically consistent theory. He argues that expectations are formed by an automatic process that utilizes conscious and nonconscious processes, passion and reason, information from public and private sources, and social networks. Consumers ultimately reach a decision that serves both the micro decision needs of individuals and reflects the common influence of the macro environment. Drawing on empirical observations, Curtin not only demonstrates the importance of consumer sentiment, but also how it can foreshadow the cyclical turning points in the economy.
There is no one on earth who knows more about consumer expectations and the macroeconomy than Richard Curtin. All the rest of us have much to learn from this impressive book.
Alan S. Blinder, Princeton University
Author: Thomas J. Bollyky – Georgetown University
For the first time in recorded history, virus, bacteria, and other infectious diseases are not the leading cause of death or disability in any region of the world. People are living longer, and fewer mothers are giving birth to many children in the hopes that some might survive. And yet, the news is not all good. Recent reductions in infectious disease have not been accompanied by the same improvements in income, job opportunities, and governance that occurred with these changes in wealthier countries decades ago. There have also been unintended consequences.
Plagues and the Paradox of Progress is a readable history of the rise and fall—and worrisome threat—of infectious diseases, as well as the new health threat to developing countries: chronic illnesses. Bollyky provides deep insight into how health challenges will impact the development of lower income countries. This is an excellent addition to the scholarship on global health.
Ezekiel J. Emanuel, University of Pennsylvania