The Price of Inequality: How Today's Divided Society Endangers Our Future
By Joseph E. Stiglitz
Teachers and university admissions officers constantly tell us to read academic books to ‘further our understanding’. However, finding an economics book for further reading outside of the curriculum can be quite daunting especially when authors use complicated theories and excessive jargon that we don’t understand.
Joseph Stiglitz’s books are characterized by the fact that they target those who do not have a PhD in economics whilst discussing the political economy with a tone of complexity and seriousness (meaning you still sound smart when you talk about it). “The Price of Inequality: How Today's Divided Society Endangers Our Future” by Joseph Stiglitz is in no way unfamiliar to the limelight. It has been the recipient of undying critical acclimation whilst it has also garnered political reproval since it is VERY politically charged, and the author is more or less unwavering in his ideologies. It discusses the true determinants and implications of inequality in the US economy and holds the federal government of the United States, The Federal Reserve System, and intergovernmental organizations accountable.
Although The Price of Inequality focuses on US governmental policies it remains relevant to the global community as the policies discussed are often common in other states and because countless case studies of economic success and failure beyond the American border is mentioned. It is divided into ten chapters that consist of 10 smaller subsections. Each of these subsections are a maximum 5 minute read which makes it perfect quick read. Alternatively, you can quickly choose the subsection that is salient for your studies and just read that because they are almost fully independent of other subsections. But most importantly, it has a Goodreads rating of 4.03 out of 5 and 90/100 on Google Reviews.
This book is a discussion of how monetary policy, budgetary policy, and globalization aids in the stark discrepancies of wealth distribution in the US with a heavy emphasis on the concept of “Of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1%”. All aspects of economic policy is addressed inclusive of but definitely not exclusive to privatization, real estate law and framing accompanied by real world examples such as the debt crisis in Greece, the global recession in 2008 etc. Whilst maintaining a critical overview though out the text, in the last chapter he offers treatments for the previous diagnoses he made on the US economy, suggesting that improvement and restructuration is possible with the right resources.
This 449-page book is composed of the following chapters: 1. America's 1 Percent Problem, 2. Rent Seeking and the Making of an Unequal Society, 3. Markets and Inequality, 4. Why It Matters, 5. A Democracy in Peril, 6. 1984 Is Upon Us, 7. Justice for All? How Inequality is Eroding the Rule of Law, 8. The Battle of the Budget, 9. A Macroeconomic Policy and a Critical Bank By and for the 1 Percent and 10. The Way Forward: Another World Is Possible.
My Opinion and Who Should Read It
For me, this was one of the first books I read
that engaged with economic theory outside of the classroom. Although the political aspect may be off putting for some, I personally thought that it spurred opinion and argument and piqued my interest. The political aspect of this book is quite binary in that the author is a liberalist who promotes left-wing values. As a result, I found that the arguments were heavily biased and slightly repetitive but there was something to gain from each chapter regardless of whether I agreed or not. It relates a lot to what I am learning in my current course (HL Econ for IB diploma) and that is definitely true for other AP economic syllabuses, and the basis of the authors arguments are built on solid, accurate economic theory.
Overall, I would recommend this book to those who are looking for an easy read on a blend of economics and politics. Stiglitz has a tremendous understanding of the topic and is able to convey his thoughts in an accessible and approachable manner.
However, with that said, those who are extremely well versed in the subject may find disagreements with the points raised and consider the book to be very repetitive. The narrator reads this book like a news broadcaster, which can be a bit monotonous at times but I think it’s certainly more interesting than many other economics books out there. Extra reading is crucial in university and college applications, and this may be the perfect book for you to start with!