The Economists’ Hour


I just added another fascinating book to my Book Library titled The Economist’s Hour authored by Binyamin Appelbaum. Mr. Appelbaum is the lead writer on economics and business for The New York Times Editorial Board. From 2010 to 2019, he was a Washington correspondent for the Times, covering economic policy.

I find every journey to the past instructive, The Economist Hourand my hope is we can Learn from History. This book chronicles the role of the Economist, their foray into political waters, and their societal impact. Looking back in time can be surprising, as core beliefs are challenged. What can we learn from this look back? What do we do differently as a result? This is a fascinating journey that I highly recommend. The book abstract from Amazon is included below. The author’s conclusion?

Their fundamental belief? That government should stop trying to manage the economy. Their guiding principle? That markets would deliver steady growth, and ensure that all Americans shared in the benefits. But the Economists’ Hour failed to deliver on its promise of broad prosperity. And the single-minded embrace of markets has come at the expense of economic equality, the health of liberal democracy, and future generations.


ABSTRACT

Before the 1960s, American politicians had never paid much attention to economists. But as the post-World War II boom began to sputter, economists gained influence and power. In The Economists’ Hour, Binyamin Appelbaum traces the rise of the economists, first in the United States and then around the globe, as their ideas reshaped the modern world, curbing government, unleashing corporations and hastening globalization.

Some leading figures are relatively well-known, such as Milton Friedman, the elfin libertarian who had a greater influence on American life than any other economist of his generation, and Arthur Laffer, who sketched a curve on a cocktail napkin that helped to make tax cuts a staple of conservative economic policy.

Others stayed out of the limelight, but left a lasting impact on modern life: Walter Oi, a blind economist who dictated to his wife and assistants some of the calculations that persuaded President Nixon to end military conscription; Alfred Kahn, who deregulated air travel and rejoiced in the crowded cabins on commercial flights as the proof of his success; and Thomas Schelling, who put a dollar value on human life.

Their fundamental belief? That government should stop trying to manage the economy. Their guiding principle? That markets would deliver steady growth, and ensure that all Americans shared in the benefits. But the Economists’ Hour failed to deliver on its promise of broad prosperity. And the single-minded embrace of markets has come at the expense of economic equality, the health of liberal democracy, and future generations.

Timely, engaging and expertly researched, The Economists’ Hour is a reckoning-and a call for people to rewrite the rules of the market.

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