Thursday, September 3, 2009

Depression Economics

I recently read "The Return of Depression Economics and the Crisis of 2008" by Paul Krugman . This is an updated version of his 1999 book "The Return of Depression Economics" which I have not read.

This book is basically a narrative account of various economic disturbances around the world since 1990 or so culminating in the 2008 crisis. I found it easy to read and entertaining. The downside is that the book is pretty superficial. It does introduce a few simple economic ideas but I don't think I learned a lot.

The book seemed pretty bland considering Krugman's reputation (possibly undeserved) as a partisan firebrand. Perhaps the most controversial thing in the book is a sentence praising Pinochet's economic reforms in Chile. I got little sense of what Krugman thinks should have been done differently in the past or should change going forward.

I also feel the book tended to neglect the aftermath of the crises it discusses. This may reflect in part a failure to completely update the 1999 edition. For example a speculative attack on the Hong Kong dollar is described but the ultimate outcome is left unclear.

So to sum up I found the book adequate as a light introduction to recent economic events but a bit lacking if you are looking for deeper insights.

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