My Top 20 List of Books on Economic Growth, Globalization and Poverty Reduction
Economist Bob Lucas said that “Once you start thinking about (growth), it’s hard to think about anything else.” Here is my list of 20 favorite books [in two parts due to Substack length restrictions] on the global economy, why some nations are rich and others not. Suggestions, criticisms welcome.
1. The Elusive Quest for Growth: Economists' Adventures and Misadventures in the Tropics by Bill Easterly.
Asks the question what causes the growth and what traps countries into poverty?
2. The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers: Economic Change and Military Conflict from 1500 to 2000 by Paul Kennedy.
Great power ascendency [inevitably?] leads to military overstretch and decline.
3. The Year 1000: When Explorers Connected the World—and Globalization Began by Valerie Hansen.
In 1000, for the first time in world history, an object or a message could travel all the way around the world. Globalization has changed and been augmented what had been there since 1000.
4. Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty by Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson.
It is man-made political and economic institutions that underlie economic success (or the lack of it).
5. Technological Revolutions and Financial Capital: The Dynamics of Bubbles and Golden Ages by Carlota Perez.
Historically technological revolutions arrive with remarkable regularity, and that economies react to them in predictable phases.
6. Exploring the Black Box: Technology, Economics, and History by Nathan Rosenberg
Technological progress is usually an incremental process rather than big breakthroughs.
7. Doing Capitalism in the Innovation Economy: Reconfiguring the Three-Player Game between Markets, Speculators and the State by Bill Janeway
Lays out the “Three-Player Game” necessary to fuel innovation: the state, financial capitalism, and the market economy
8. The Power of Creative Destruction: Economic Upheaval and the Wealth of Nations by Philippe Aghion, Céline Antonin and Simon Bunel
What drives economic growth and a blueprint for prosperity under capitalism.
9. The Great Divergence: China, Europe, and the Making of the Modern World Economy by Ken Pomeranz
Why did sustained industrial growth begin in Northwest Europe, despite surprising similarities between advanced areas of Europe and East Asia
10. How China Escaped the Poverty Trap by Yuen Yuen Ang.
What drove China's great transformation was not centralized authoritarian control, but "directed improvisation"―top-down directions from Beijing paired with bottom-up improvisation among local officials.
11. China's Economy: What Everyone Needs to Know® by Arthur Kroeber.
A concise, comprehensive introduction to the most astonishing economic growth story of the last three decades.
12. How China Escaped Shock Therapy: The Market Reform Debate by Isabella M. Weber . A fascinating account of the debate that shaped the remaking of China’s economic system and the intellectual foundations of state-market relations in reform-era China.
13. The Great Rebalancing: Trade, Conflict, and the Perilous Road Ahead for the World Economy - by Michael Pettis.
The implications of the relationship between savings, investment and trade at a global level are counterintuitive. Much of what we think about trade and capital flows is wrong.
14. How Asia Works: Success and Failure In the World's Most Dynamic Region by Joe Studwell.
Analyses the East Asian miracle through the prism of three main areas: land policy, manufacturing, and finance.
15. The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies by Erik Brynjolfsson, Andrew McAfee .
The automation of a lot of cognitive tasks that make humans and software-driven machines substitutes, rather than complements has huge implications for the economy and policy.
16. The Race between Education and Technology by Claudia Goldin , Lawrence Katz. A careful analysis of the race between technological change, education, and inequality.
17. Crashed: How a Decade of Financial Crises Changed the World by Adam Tooze. The best account of the 2008 global financial crisis, connecting the subprime crisis to the American banking crisis to the European debt crisis to the crisis of liberalism.
18. Energy and Civilization: A History by Vaclav Smil.
How energy has shaped society throughout history, from pre-agricultural foraging societies through today's fossil fuel–driven civilization.
19. The Value of Everything: Making and Taking in the Global Economy by Mariana Mazzucato.
The dangers of financialization and measuring true value creation
20. Triumph of the City: How Our Greatest Invention Makes Us Richer, Smarter, Greener, Healthier, and Happier by Edward Glaeser . The Harvard economist celebrates the city as one of the greatest inventions of mankind.