Publisher's Picks: Top Books of 2009
The financial collapse of 2008 spawned a myriad of books attempting to make sense of it. While our list is by no means exhaustive, these are some of the best books that analyzed the causes of and offered solutions to our current economic turmoil:
Nicole Gelinas - After the Fall: Saving Capitalism from Wall Street and Washington
Gelinas' book is a standout in the barrage of recent tomes exploring the many reasons behind the financial meltdown. She manages to identify the root cause of the crisis - "Too Big To Fail" - and offers smart solutions to prevent another collapse. The best part? She pulls it off in fewer than 200 pages. Highly recommended.
Arnold Kling and Nick Schulz - From Poverty to Prosperity
A profound literary tour de force celebrating the dynamism and power of unfettered free market capitalism. Kling and Schultz advance their theory of "Economics 2.0" highlighting the power and virtues of innovation and entrepreneurs over big government intervention. The book features a fascinating blend of interviews with inspired, forward thinking economists including four Nobel laureates.
Brian Carney - Freedom, Inc.
Give your employees more freedom, more room to grow and breathe, eliminate bureaucracy, and then watch your company and its profits take off. That's the message in this enjoyable read, which offers an inside look at some of the nation's most successful companies.
Andrew Ross Sorkin - The Inside Story of How Wall Street and Washington Fought to Save the Financial System - and Themselves
The most-researched and intricate account of the financial crisis to date, Sorkin's book presents a balanced account of the the cataclysmic events of 2008, including Lehman's collapse and the bailout of AIG. Sorkin's skills as a New York Times reporter shine through as his unparalleled, intimate knowledge of the major players offers readers a behind-the-scenes view unmatched by other books.
Charlie Gasparino - The Sellout: How Three Decades of Wall Street Greed and Government Mismanagement Destroyed the Global Financial System
Charlie Gasparino, ever the tenacious and brash CNBC reporter and personality, details in The Sellout how the financial system became fraught with risk starting in the 1970s and extending into the 2000s. He doesn't shy from pointing fingers at major players, from Greenspan, Rubin and the Congress to, especially, the CEOs on Wall Street. Above all, Gasparino's thesis seeks to show how bad government policy combined with Wall Street greed created a system that was bound to collapse - at our expense, of course.
Liaquat Ahamed - Lords of Finance: The Bankers Who Broke the World
Lords of Finance presents a riveting account of the late 1920s global economic collapse and an intriguing look at the critical role four fallible central bankers played during the crisis. It's a forceful reminder of the power wielded by central bankers and the terrible human toll and fallout that can occur when they miss the mark.
Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner - Superfreakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes, and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance
Levitt and Dubner deliver the goods once again in this fascinating follow-up to their colossally successful Freakonomics, which sold over 4 million copies. Overflowing with wildly unconventional insights, Superfreakonomics grips and challenges from the very first page. If you've ever wondered how a street prostitute is like a department store Santa, or if a kangaroo diet could save the planet, then this is your book.
Thomas Sowell - The Housing Boom and Bust
If you're on the hunt for a serious, well reasoned economic primer on the root causes of the housing bubble and ensuing financial collapse, how we got here, and what went wrong, look no further. Sowell does a great job distilling all the relevant players and events leading to the crisis. He also presents a decent amount of easily digestible data. Definitely worth a read.
John Cassidy - How Markets Fail: The Logic of Economic Calamities
The New Yorker's John Cassidy takes a keen look at the history of economic thought and the roots of the current financial crisis.
Steve Forbes and Elizabeth Ames - How Capitalism Will Save Us
"Has capitalism failed?" So begins this forceful defense of capitalism in which Forbes and Ames argue that the capitalist system is the world's greatest economic success story and is the most effective way to provide for the needs of people and foster the democratic and moral values of a free society. The book addresses common criticisms of capitalism head-on, systematically dismantling ideas like capitalism is immoral and that government is needed to direct the economy.
Robert Skidelsky - Keynes: The Return of the Master
John Maynard Keynes's preeminent biographer Robert Skidelsky offers a beautifully written and accessible book exploring the theories of the towering British economist whose ideas reverberate to this day. A must-read for Keynes fans and foes alike.
Brian Domitrovic - Econoclasts: The Rebels Who Sparked the Supply-Side Revolution and Restored American Prosperity
Sean Rushton recently summed up this brilliant book on RCM suggesting that it should serve as a roadmap to revitalizing the private sector. As Rushton wrote, it is a sharply written, thoroughly-researched narrative weaving together financial history, economic doctrine, and character study so skillfully that recent decades' policy debates become not only comprehensible, but at times, downright exciting. Domitrovic looks at the forces that unleash prosperity, move history, and enhance great nations. In our time of loose money and rising taxes, supply-side's second revolution may begin with this book."