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Crisis Economics, by Nouriel RoubiniContinuing our year-long foray into the wilds of economic theory and the financial crisis…

Title: Crisis Economics: A Crash Course in the Future of Finance, by Nouriel Roubini and Stephen Mihm

Date: February 7, 2013 (#12)

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How often does one hear the lament that America lacks public intellectuals? Where have our Arthur Schlesingers and our Milton Friedmen gone? O tempora, o mores! 

Well, Mr. Roubini surely qualifies. Per Wikipedia:

Nouriel Roubini (born March 29, 1958) is an American economist. He anticipated the collapse of the United States housing market and the worldwide recession which started in 2008 and ended in 2009. He teaches at New York University‘s Stern School of Business and is the chairman of Roubini Global Economics, an economic consultancy firm.

There you have it. A wealthy, tenured, and preternaturally accurate prognosticator of doom. Mr. Roubini has been justly fêted at all the smartest parties on the Upper West Side, and he is a deft hand at explaining his theories to a lay audience to boot.

It is a shame Mr. Roubini chose to publish five years into the Age of Kindle. In olden days of dead tree books, this would have been just the sort of tome whose jacket any good bourgeois cosmopolitan would be proud to flash on the JetBlue shuttle from New York to D.C. (once one had finished the latest number of The Economist, naturally).

In the grand tradition of Jeff Foxworthy, “you might be a white collar” if you find the following passage chuckle-worthy:

However, not everyone bought into [efficient markets theory]. A popular joke among economists neatly captures its logical absurdities. An economist and his friend are walking down the street when they come across a hundred-dollar bill lying on the ground. The friend bends down to pick it up, but the economist stops him, saying, “Don’t bother—if it were a real hundred-dollar bill, someone would have already picked it up.”

Tee hee!

But we jest. This is actually quite a fine book, and it is nice to see someone of Mr. Roubini’s stature shun the lazy extremes of Right and Left in favor of a vigorously defended intellectual independence. The book offers a sort of Grand Unified Theory of financial crises, “synthesizing” insights of both Keynes and Schumpeter to form an almost perfectly centrist thesis, packaged and ready for PowerPoint presentation at a business school near you.

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Next: Church History in Plain English, by Bruce L. Shelley