Book Summary: The Economists’ Hour by Binyamin Appelbaum

The Economists’ Hour by Binyamin Appelbaum Book Cover

The Economists’ Hour by Binyamin Appelbaum is a book that explores the role of economists in shaping public policy and the impact of their ideas on society. The book is divided into ten chapters, each of which focuses on a different aspect of the economists’ influence on American society.

Chapter 1: The Science of Politics

The first chapter of the book introduces the idea of economics as a science and explores the ways in which economists have sought to apply their ideas to public policy. Appelbaum argues that economists have often presented their ideas as objective and scientific, but that their ideas are often shaped by political and ideological beliefs.

Chapter 2: The Invisible Hand

The second chapter of the book looks at the idea of the invisible hand, which is a central concept in classical economics. Appelbaum argues that the idea of the invisible hand has been used to justify laissez-faire economics and to argue against government intervention in the economy.

Chapter 3: The Cult of Efficiency

The third chapter of the book explores the cult of efficiency, which was a popular idea among economists and policymakers in the early twentieth century. Appelbaum argues that the cult of efficiency was used to justify the expansion of government bureaucracy and the use of expertise to manage the economy.

Chapter 4: The Road to Serfdom

The fourth chapter of the book looks at the ideas of Friedrich Hayek, who argued that socialism would lead to the destruction of individual freedom and the creation of a totalitarian state. Appelbaum argues that Hayek’s ideas have had a significant impact on American politics and have been used to justify policies that favor the wealthy and powerful.

Chapter 5: The Triumph of Keynes

The fifth chapter of the book examines the ideas of John Maynard Keynes, who argued that government intervention in the economy was necessary to prevent economic crises. Appelbaum argues that Keynes’ ideas were influential in the development of the welfare state and the expansion of government power.

Chapter 6: The Conscience of a Liberal

The sixth chapter of the book looks at the ideas of John Kenneth Galbraith, who argued that the goal of economic policy should be to promote economic growth and reduce inequality. Appelbaum argues that Galbraith’s ideas were influential in the development of the New Deal and the expansion of government power.

Chapter 7: The Chicago School

The seventh chapter of the book examines the ideas of the Chicago School of economics, which argued that government intervention in the economy was counterproductive and that markets should be free from government regulation. Appelbaum argues that the ideas of the Chicago School have had a significant impact on American politics and have been used to justify policies that favor the wealthy and powerful.

Chapter 8: The Great Moderation

The eighth chapter of the book looks at the period of economic stability that occurred in the United States in the 1980s and 1990s, which came to be known as the Great Moderation. Appelbaum argues that the Great Moderation was the result of a combination of factors, including government policies that promoted economic growth and the use of technology to manage the economy.

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Chapter 9: The Financial Crisis

The ninth chapter of the book examines the financial crisis that occurred in the United States in 2008. Appelbaum argues that the crisis was the result of a combination of factors, including government policies that promoted risky behavior and the use of complex financial instruments that were difficult to understand.

Chapter 10: The Economists’ Hour

The tenth and final chapter of the book looks at the impact of economists’ ideas on American society and argues that economists have played a significant role in shaping public policy. Appelbaum argues that economists have often presented their ideas as objective and scientific, but that their ideas are often shaped by political and ideological beliefs.

Conclusion

Overall, The Economists’ Hour by Binyamin Appelbaum is a thought-provoking book that explores the role of economists in shaping public policy and the impact of their ideas on society. The book is well-researched and provides a detailed history of the development of economic ideas in the United States. While the book is critical of some aspects of economics, it also recognizes the importance of economics in shaping public policy and the need for economists to be involved in public discourse. Overall, The Economists’ Hour is a must-read for anyone interested in the history of economic thought and the impact of economics on society.

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