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How Markets Fail: The Logic of Economic Calamities

Conventionally, these come down to the free-market types such as Hayek and Friedman on one hand and interventionists such as Keynes and Galbraith on the other. However, Cassidy does a nice job complicating that picture by drawing on the entire history of economic thought and introducing such overlooked figures as William Stanley Jevons and Leon Walras, who, it turns out, had a great deal to say about the overall subject of the book—namely, why economies can collapse so rapidly.

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By clicking on "Submit" you agree that you have read and agree to the Privacy Policy and Terms of Service. Email Newsletter. Taking the global financial crisis and current recession as his starting point, Cassidy explores a world in which everybody is connected and social contagion is the norm.


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In such an environment, he shows, individual behavioral biases and kinks—overconfidence, envy, copycat behavior, and myopia—often give rise to troubling macroeconomic phenomena, such as oil price spikes, CEO greed cycles, and boom-and-bust waves in the housing market. You are commenting using your WordPress.

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How Markets Fail: the Logic of Economic Calamities by John Cassidy: review

Skip to content. He then looks to the leading edge of economic theory, including behavioral economics, to offer a new understanding of the economy—one that casts aside the old assumption that people and firms make decisions purely on the basis of rational self-interest.

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Taking the global financial crisis and current recession as his starting point, Cassidy explores a world in which everybody is connected and social contagion is the norm. In such an environment, he shows, individual behavioral biases and kinks—overconfidence, envy, copycat behavior, and myopia—often give rise to troubling macroeconomic phenomena, such as oil price spikes, CEO greed cycles, and boom-and-bust waves in the housing market. These are the inevitable outcomes of what Cassidy refers to as "rational irrationality"—self-serving behavior in a modern market setting. Combining on-the-ground reporting, clear explanations of esoteric economic theories, and even a little crystal-ball gazing, Cassidy warns that in today's economic crisis, conforming to antiquated orthodoxies isn't just misguided—it's downright dangerous.