Book review: End the Depression Now! by Paul Krugman

Book review ‘End This Depression Now.’

Gloria Ma

‘End This Depression Now’ by Paul Krugman focuses on analysing the causes and consequences of 2008 Economic Crisis, in order to outline numbers of methods to avoid future depressions.

Throughout the book, Krugman is very much like an existentialist who urges the responsible agents to act spontaneously towards changes in policies making and economic forecast. As he quotes from Keynes: “The long run is a misleading guide to current affairs. In the long we are all dead. Economists set themselves too easy, too useless a task if in tempestuous seasons they can only tell us that when the storm is long past the sea is flat again.” Hence, Krugman argues that all the economic crisis are avoidable as the economists can proactively make adaptations over time periods. Taking the example of Brexit, “the boom, not the slump, is the time for austerity”, a cut in interest rate and cooperation tax are authentic policies to impose in the U.K. economy – they not only boost the consumer and business confidence but also directly increase consumption and investment to maintain a sound economics growth rate.

The most captivating, or precisely the most admirable part of this book is that Krugman has a visionary prediction of the world politics now: a global lean towards nationalism (extremism) – such as Brexit, Trump’s presidency and the coming up French general election Round 2 – this phenomenon can be simply interpreted by economic factors. It is obvious that Krugman stands aside with the Keynesians, however, this might inevitably set the width of the book rather narrow.
Although Krugman has listed lots of adequate arguments, it is always interesting to hear other monetarists’ solutions upon economic crises.

Overall, I have learnt a great deal from this book, not merely the economists’ theories, and also the responsibilities that rule-setters have to act on. No depressions can indicate the end of the world, there are always solutions and ways to limit the harms.

Book review ‘Economic Naturalist’

‘The Economic Naturalist: Why Economics explains almost everything’, by Robert H Frank (Professor of Management and Economics at Cornell University.) is a book which can be comprehended by people who does not study economics as an academic subject because it contains lots of interesting practical problems. Moreover, the narrative style of interpretation enables the reader to connect them with real life situation rather than unnecessary diagrams or professional terminologies.

The most engaging part of the book is that some of the phenomena really raised my curiosity to find out the economic theories behind it. As demonstrated by the front cover of this book – Why is milk sold in rectangular containers, while are soft drinks are sold in cylindrical ones? In the beginning, I did not regard it as something links with economics as it appears rather friendly than those we read in the textbooks. However, the reason behind it not only linked with economics but also psychology, history and practical experiences – the answer is for you to find out from reading the fascinating book.

Alternatively, Frank can be vague about his explanations of economic phenomenon. As demonstrated in his example of drive-up cashpoint machines that have Braille dots, some readers argue that the reason behind it is the regulation rather than opportunity cost. Despite a brief explanation, Frank does not attempt to add these alternative reasons into account. I think an economic phenomenon requires a variety of reasons to be fully established.

Overall I rate this book as 4 / 5 because after reading this book, economics is not something that is on the moon for me anymore, it illustrates a rational dimension approaching human behaviour.