It’s 5 years since Lehman Brothers collapsed on 15th September 2008, triggering the economic crisis and credit crunch. To mark the occasion, we’ve put together a list of of must-read economics titles that’ll tell you everything you need to know about finance, the economic crisis and more. Click on the links or on the cover images to buy!
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Written for anyone who is wondering how we’ve come to this point, Rob Larson holds mainstream economic theory up against the grim reality of a planet in meltdown. He looks at scientists’ conclusions about climate change, the business world’s opinions about its own power, and reveals the fingerprints of finance on American elections.
“I have been reading Rob Larson’s columns for some time, with great profit and appreciation. His work is not only solidly grounded but also lucid and accessible, a most valuable contribution to public understanding and vitally needed action.”
2. No Way to Run an Economy: Why the System Failed and How to Put it Right
In The Credit Crunch, Graham Turner predicted that banks would be nationalised and interest rates would be reduced too slowly to halt the crisis. His predictions were correct. His new book, No Way to Run an Economy, is the essential guide to the turbulent times ahead.
“Turner argues that we urgently need a thorough rethink of the shareholder model that blindly chases short-term profit and denies a voice to workers – and, indeed, to small investors. And you don’t have to be a Marxist to think he has a point.”
3. It’s the Political Economy, Stupid: The Global Financial Crisis in Art and Theory
Gregory Sholette, Oliver Ressler
In sympathy with the subject matter, the book features powerful original artwork for the cover, and an internal design theme based on the movements of Goldman Sachs stock market values by activist designer Noel Douglas. What emerges is a powerful critique of the current capitalist crisis through an analytical and theoretical response and an aesthetic-cultural rejoinder. By combining artistic responses with the analysis of leading radical theorists, the book expands the boundaries of critique beyond the usual discourse.
“In the wake of the capitalist crisis, very few cultural institutions have dared to address the horrors of greed that plague us in such a direct and haunting way.”
Alexander Cavaluzzo, Hyperallergic
4. The Financial Crisis and the Global South: A Development Perspective
Written by a highly respected development economist, the book gives a clear-eyed account of the issues particular to these countries and critically evaluates different policy approaches, including reforms in financial, monetary and trade policies. Yilmaz Akyüz draws on empirical data, historical context and theoretical expertise, with special attention paid to issues such as the role of the International Monetary Fund and China.
“This book is a tour de force by one of the world’s leading development economists. It is a must read for all those who are interested in the global economy North-South relations and the economic crisis.”
Ajit Singh, Emeritus Professor of Economics, University of Cambridge
5. Geopolitical Economy: After US Hegemony, Globalization and Empire
Geopolitical Economy radically reinterprets the historical evolution of the world order, as a multi-polar world emerges from the dust of the financial and economic crisis. Radhika Desai offers a radical critique of the theories of US hegemony, globalisation and empire which dominate academic international political economy and international relations, revealing their ideological origins in successive failed US attempts at world dominance through the dollar.
“You are not likely to find a better contemporary history of the world’s economy than this one. It is hard to put down, but the greater joy is that it undoes myth after myth about neoliberalism’s inevitability and the neoclassical abstractions that economic history has little to do with the state any longer.”
Jeff Madrick, Editor, Challenge
6. The Heretic’s Guide to Global Finance: Hacking the Future of Money
Popular anger against the financial system has never been higher, yet the practical workings of the system remain opaque to many people. The Heretic’s Guide to Global Finance aims to bridge the gap between protest slogans and practical proposals for reform.
“This is an imaginative, even exuberant exploration of the daunting world of finance – it will unleash a generation of activists, and do a world of good.”
Bill McKibben, author of ‘Deep Economy’
7. The Failure of Capitalist Production: Underlying Causes of the Great Recession
The recent financial crisis and Great Recession have been analysed endlessly in the mainstream and academia, but this is the first book to conclude, on the basis of in-depth analyses of official US data, that Marx’s crisis theory can explain these events.
Kliman’s conclusion is simple but shocking: short of socialist transformation, the only way to escape the ‘new normal’ of a stagnant, crisis-prone economy is to restore profitability through full-scale destruction of existing wealth, something not seen since the Depression of the 1930s.
“One of the very best of the rapidly growing series of works seeking to explain our economic crisis. … The scholarship is exemplary and the writing is crystal clear. Highly recommended!”
Professor Bertell Ollman, New York University, author of Dance of the Dialectic
8. Epic Recession: Prelude to Global Depression
Rasmus interrogates US economic history to show that the current predicament is what he terms an ‘Epic Recession’, neither a full-blown depression or a short-lived period of contraction followed by a swift return to growth. He then shows that the only way to prevent the onset of depression is to radically restructure the economy through a massive job creation program, nationalisations, a fundamentally new kind of banking structure and a long-term redistribution of income through better healthcare and benefit systems.
“Extensive research, thoughtful analysis and articulate writing have created a great book. Jack Rasmus doesn’t just talk about the economic catastrophe of the last two years he identifies the problems, the root causes, and offers sound and insightful solutions. Epic Recesssion should be required reading for anyone who has a responsibility in formulating public policy.”
Chuck Mack, International Vice-President, International Brotherhood of Teamsters
9. The Poverty of Capitalism: Economic Meltdown and the Struggle for What Comes Next
In The Poverty of Capitalism, John Hilary reveals the true face of transnational capital in its insatiable drive for expansion and accumulation. He exposes the myth of ‘corporate social responsibility’ (CSR), and highlights key areas of conflict over natural resources, labour rights and food sovereignty.
“I’ve been waiting for this book all century – a subtle, thorough analysis of global capitalism that is both comprehensive enough to use as a reference on current world events, and readable enough to recommend to a new generation of prospective activists. It’s no surprise that it comes from the mind of John Hilary. For decades, he’s had his finger on the pulse, his feet on the streets and his nose deep in the best books on the planet. There are few who could so deftly point to the contradictions of today’s capitalism, and to the movements that hope to move beyond it tomorrow.”
Raj Patel, author of ‘Stuffed and Starved’
10. Crucible of Resistance: Greece, the Eurozone and the World Economic Crisis.
Christos Laskos, Euclid Tsakalotos
Crucible of Resistance seeks to challenge the mainstream account of the ‘Greek Crisis’ and situate it within a broader regional context and ultimately a critique of the world economic system. It argues that an effective response entails confronting not just the neoliberal order, but also the earlier social-democratic Keynesian regime. This book widens out the debate about the crisis in Greece and the eurozone linking it to socialist and class strategies at the international level.
“This book gives us a clear account of how Greece and the eurozone got into such a mess. It makes clear that the crisis is not only economic, but also one of growing regional and social inequalities and the retreat of democracy. More important still, the authors bring to the fore what the emerging radical left in Greece and elsewhere can do to get us out of the crisis.”
Alexis Tsipras, head of Syriza (Coalition of the Radical Left) and Leader of the Opposition in the Greek parliament