Inequality and Instability: A Study of the World Economy Just Before the Great Crisis

Inequality and Instability: A Study of the World Economy Just Before the Great Crisis

by James K. Galbraith

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As Wall Street rose to dominate the U.S. economy, income and pay inequalities in America came to dance to the tune of the credit cycle. As the reach of financial markets extended across the globe, interest rates, debt, and debt crises became the dominant forces driving the rise of economic inequality almost everywhere. Thus the "super-bubble" that investor George Soros identified in rich countries for the two decades after 1980 was a super-crisis for the 99 percent-not just in the U.S. but the entire world.

Inequality and Instability demonstrates that finance is the driveshaft that links inequality to economic instability. The book challenges those, mainly on the right, who see mysterious forces of technology behind rising inequality. And it also challenges those, mainly on the left, who have placed the blame narrowly on trade and outsourcing. Inequality and Instability presents straightforward evidence that the rise of inequality mirrors the stock market in the U.S. and the rise of finance and of free-market policies elsewhere. Starting from the premise that fresh argument requires fresh evidence, James K. Galbraith brings new data to bear as never before, presenting information built up over fifteen years in easily understood charts and tables. By measuring inequality at the right geographic scale, Galbraith shows that more equal societies systematically enjoy lower unemployment. He shows how this plays out inside Europe, between Europe and the United States, and in modern China. He explains that the dramatic rise of inequality in the U.S. in the 1990s reflected a finance-driven technology boom that concentrated incomes in just five counties, very remote from the experience of most Americans-which helps explain why the political reaction was so slow to come. That the reaction is occurring now, however, is beyond doubt. In the aftermath of the Great Financial Crisis, inequality has become, in America and the world over, the central issue.

A landmark work of research and original insight, Inequality and Instability will change forever the way we understand this pivotal topic.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780199855650
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publication date: 03/30/2012
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 336
Product dimensions: 6.40(w) x 9.30(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

James K. Galbraith is professor at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, the University of Texas at Austin, where he holds the Lloyd M. Bentsen Jr. Chair in Government/Business Relations. He is a leading economist whose books include The Predator State, Inequality and Industrial Change, and Created Unequal.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1. The Physics and Ethics of Inequality
1. The Simple Physics of Inequality Measurement
2. The Ethical Implications of Inequality Measures
3. Plan of the Book
Chapter 2. The Need for New Inequality Measures
1. The Data Problem in Inequality Studies
2. Obtaining Dense and Consistent Inequality Measures
3. Grouping Up and Grouping Down
4. Conclusion
Chapter 3: Pay Inequality and World Development
1. What Kuznets Meant
2. New Data for a New Look at Kuznets' Hypothesis
3. Pay Inequality and National Income: What's the Shape of the Curve?
4. Global Rising Inequality: the Soros Super-bubble as a Pattern in the Data
5. Conclusion
Appendix: On a Presumed Link from Inequality to Growth
Chapter 4. Estimating the Inequality of Household Incomes
1. Estimating the Relationship Between Inequalities of Pay and Income
2. Finding the Problem Cases: A Study of Residuals
3. Building a Deep and Balanced Income Inequality Data Set
4. Conclusion
Chapter 5. Economic Inequality and Political Regimes
1. Democracy and Inequality in Political Science
2. A Different Approach to Political Regime Types
3. Analysis and Results
4. Conclusion
Appendix I: Political Regime Data Description
Appendix II: Results Using Other Political Classification Schemes
Chapter 6. The Geography of Inequality in America, 1969 to 2007
1. Between-Industry Earnings Inequality in the United States
2. The Changing Geography of American Income Inequality
3. Interpreting Inequality in the United States
4. Conclusion
Chapter 7: State-Level Income Inequality and American Elections
1. Some Initial Models Using Off-the-Shelf Data for the 2000 Election.
2. New Estimates of State-Level Inequality and an Analysis of the Inequality-Elections Relationship over Time
3. Inequality and the Income Paradox in Voting
4. Conclusion
Chapter 8. Inequality and Unemployment in Europe: A Question of Levels
1. An Inequality-based Theory of Unemployment
2. Region-based Evidence on Inequality and Unemployment
3. Inequality and Unemployment in Europe and America
4. Implications for Unemployment Policy in Europe
Appendix. Detailed Results and Sensitivity Analyses
Chapter 9. European Wages and the Flexibility Thesis
1. The Problem of Unemployment in Europe: A reprise
2. Assessing Wage Flexibility Across Europe
3. Clustering and Discriminating to Simplify the Picture
4. Conclusion
Appendix A: Cluster Details
Appendix B: Eigenvalues and Canonical Correlations
Appendix C: Correlations between Canonical Scores and Pseudoscores
Chapter 10: Globalization and Inequality in China
1. The Evolution of Inequality in China through 2007
2. Finance and the export boom, 2002 to 2006
3. Trade and capital inflow in post-WTO China
4. Profit and Capital Flows into Speculative Sectors
5. Conclusion
Chapter 11. Finance and Power in Argentina and Brazil
1. The Modern Political Economy of Argentina and Brazil
2. Measuring Inequality in Argentina and Brazil
3. Sources of Data
4. Pay Inequality in Argentina 1994-2007
5. Pay Inequality in Brazil 1996-2007
6. Conclusion
Chapter 12. Inequality in Cuba After the Soviet Collapse
1. Data on Pay in Cuba
2. Evolution of the Cuban Economy 1991 - 2005
3. Cuban Pay Inequality by Sector
4. Cuban Pay Inequality by Region
5. Conclusion
Chapter 13: Economic Inequality and the World Crisis

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