Where do bond rating agencies get the nerve? They loom over economic policy like divine oracles. They tell lenders how safe to feel when making loans and therefore what interest rates to charge governments who borrow from them. In recent decades, as raising revenues through higher taxes became politically toxic, they expanded their influence and arrogance.
Economists and politicians who place scarcity and austerity foremost in public discourse are making the world a depressing place, indeed. Cutthroat competition to extract private gain from the last few ounces of natural resource wealth, skyrocketing levels of economic inequality, mountains of toxic wastes, climate disruption: conventional economics is a dismal failure.
Capital in the Twenty-First Century
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Thomas Piketty's, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, is a sensation -- an economics textbook, translated from the French, that has been on The New York Times Best Seller list. It is an important work. If you ignore more than 100 pages of notes, it is still a long, but easy read.