Fault Lines: How Hidden Fractures Still Threaten the World Economy

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9789350291733: Fault Lines: How Hidden Fractures Still Threaten the World Economy

Raghuram Rajan was one of the few economists who warned of the global financial crisis before it hit. Now, as the world struggles to recover, it's tempting to blame what happened on just a few greedy bankers who took irrational risks and left the rest of us to foot the bill. In Fault Lines, Rajan argues that serious flaws in the economy are also to blame, and warns that a potentially more devastating crisis awaits us if they aren't fixed.

Rajan shows how the individual choices that collectively brought about the economic meltdown--made by bankers, government officials, and ordinary homeowners--were rational responses to a flawed global financial order in which the incentives to take on risk are incredibly out of step with the dangers those risks pose. He traces the deepening fault lines in a world overly dependent on the indebted American consumer to power global economic growth and stave off global downturns. He exposes a system where America's growing inequality and thin social safety net create tremendous political pressure to encourage easy credit and keep job creation robust, no matter what the consequences to the economy's long-term health; and where the U.S. financial sector, with its skewed incentives, is the critical but unstable link between an overstimulated America and an underconsuming world.

In Fault Lines, Rajan demonstrates how unequal access to education and health care in the United States puts us all in deeper financial peril, even as the economic choices of countries like Germany, Japan, and China place an undue burden on America to get its policies right. He outlines the hard choices we need to make to ensure a more stable world economy and restore lasting prosperity.

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From the Back Cover:

"Fault Lines provides an excellent analysis of the lessons to be learned from the financial crisis, and the difficult choices that lie ahead. Of the many books written in the wake of our recent economic meltdown, this is the one that gets it right."--George A. Akerlof, coauthor of Animal Spirits and Identity Economics

"Amidst the welter of books about our financial crisis, Rajan's book stands out for several reasons: the author's intellectual distinction, his academic and real-world involvement in the problems of finance and the macroeconomy, his global perspective, his search for the roots of the financial crisis in America's growing economic inequality, and also his prescience. In 2005, Rajan foresaw the coming financial collapse--and was fiercely criticized for his insight."--Richard A. Posner, author of A Failure of Capitalism: The Crisis of '08 and the Descent into Depression

"Beautifully clear, cogent, and highly readable. This is the best book out there on the global imbalances that gave us the last financial crisis and might well give us the next one."--Kenneth S. Rogoff, coauthor of This Time Is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly

About the Author:

Raghuram G. Rajan is the Eric J. Gleacher Distinguished Service Professor of Finance at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and former chief economist at the International Monetary Fund. He is the coauthor of "Saving Capitalism from the Capitalists: Unleashing the Power of Financial Markets to Create Wealth and Spread Opportunity" (Princeton).

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