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In Failure by Design, the Economic Policy Institute's Josh Bivens takes a step back from the acclaimed State of Working America series, building on its wealth of data to relate a compelling narrative of the U. S. economy's struggle to emerge from the Great Recession of 2008. Bivens explains the causes and impact on working Americans of the most catastrophic economic policy failure since the 1920s. As outlined clearly here, economic growth since the late 1970s has been slow and inequitably distributed, largely as a result of poor policy choices. These choices only got worse in the 2000s, leading to an anemic economic expansion. What growth we did see in the economy was fueled by staggering increases in private-sector debt and a housing bubble that artificially inflated wealth by trillions of dollars. As had been predicted, the bursting of the housing bubble had disastrous consequences for the broader economy, spurring a financial crisis and a rise in joblessness that dwarfed those resulting from any recession since the Great Depression. The fallout from the Great Recession makes it near certain that there will be yet another lost decade of income growth for typical families, whose incomes had not been boosted by the previous decade's sluggish and localized economic expansion. In its broad narrative of how the economy has failed to deliver for most Americans over much of the past three decades, Failure by Design also offers compelling graphic evidence on jobs, incomes, wages, and other measures of economic well-being most relevant to low- and middle-income workers. Josh Bivens tracks these trends carefully, giving a lesson in economic history that is readable yet rigorous in its analysis. Intended as both a stand-alone volume and a companion to the new State of Working America website that presents all of the data underlying this cogent analysis, Failure by Design will become required reading as a road map to the economic problems that confront working Americans.
With this book, the Economic Policy Institute, a nonprofit think-tank focusing on the economic conditions of low- and middle-income workers, for the first time presents its data in the form of a readable narrative and interpretation written especially for general readers and students, made accessible with numerous charts and graphs. Bivens, an economist at the Economic Policy Institute and a frequent commentator for major media outlets, demonstrates that the Great Recession of 2008 was "driven by cluelessness and greed on the part of the country's financial elite," focusing on poor policy choices since the late 1970s. He examines the causes and impact of the Great Recession and explains evidence on jobs, incomes, wages, and other factors most relevant to low- and middle-income workers. He also describes what remains to be done to reform exchange rate, monetary, and fiscal policies. A companion website, "The State of Working America," provides the think-tank's annual compilations of economic data in interactive, downloadable charts and graphs, along with detailed readings on topics such as income inequality. The book lacks a subject index. IRL Press is an imprint of Cornell University Press. Annotation ©2011 Book News, Inc. , Portland, OR (booknews. com)
Praise for previous editions of The State of Working America: "The State of Working America remains unrivaled as the most-trusted source for a comprehensive understanding of how working Americans and their families are faring in today's economy. "-Robert B. Reich "It is the inequality of wealth, argue the authors, rather than new technology (as some would have it), that is responsible for the failure of America's workplace to keep pace with the country's economic growth. The State of Working America is a well-written, soundly argued, and important reference book. "-Library Journal "If you want to know what happened to the economic well-being of the average American in the past decade or so, this is the book for you. It should be required reading for Americans of all political persuasions. "-Richard Freeman, Harvard University "A truly comprehensive and useful book that provides a reality check on loose statements about U. S. labor markets. It should be cheered by all Americans who earn their living from work. "-William Wolman, former chief economist, CNBC's Business Week "The State of Working America provides very valuable factual and analytic material on the economic conditions of American workers. It is the very best source of information on this important subject. "-Ray Marshall, University of Texas, former U. S. Secretary of Labor "An indispensable work . . . on family income, wages, taxes, employment, and the distribution of wealth. "-Simon Head, The New York Review of Books "No matter what political camp you're in, this is the single most valuable book I know of about the state of America, period. It is the most referenced, most influential resource book of its kind. "-Jeff Madrick, author of The End of Affluence "This book is the single best yardstick for measuring whether or not our economic policies are doing enough to ensure that our economy can, once again, grow for everybody. "-Richard A. Gephardt "The best place to review the latest developments in changes in the distribution of income and wealth. "-Lester Thurow The State of Working America, prepared biennially since 1988 by the Economic Policy Institute, includes a wide variety of data on family incomes, wages, taxes, unemployment, wealth, and poverty-data that enable the authors to closely examine the effect of the economy on the living standards of the American people. This edition, like the previous ones, exposes and analyzes the most recent and critical trends in the country.