BOOK REVIEW OF CFG BOOK: “REAGAN REVOLUTION…”

June 12, 2012 at 3:39 pm | Posted in Books, CFG, Development, Economics, Financial, Globalization, History, Research, Third World, USA, World-system | Leave a comment

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“The Reagan Revolution and the Developing Countries (1980-1990):

A Seminal Decade for Predicting the World Economic Future”

Lawrence Feiner and Richard Melson

iUniverse, 353 pages, (paperback) $23.94, 978-1-4620-6189-1

(Reviewed: May, 2012)

Lawrence Feiner and Richard Melson, both former principals of the Cambridge Forecast Group, have written a sharp challenge to prevailing economic thought.

The authors argue that despite the chaos that seems to have enveloped the world economy since the end of the Cold War (as typified in the writings of Francis Fukuyama, Zbigniew Brzezinski, and Daniel Patrick Moynihan), the direction and development of world economic history is, in fact, quite predictable.

Proponents of controversial “New Growth Theories,” Feiner and Melson argue that human capital and knowledge are quantifiable variables that, using mathematical formulae, can be both identified and extrapolated to the future. Once identified, an economic future can be reasonably predicted. Their work leads them to conclude that a post-Cold War economic world will revolve around a rapid shifting of economic priorities, emphasizing the needs and contributions of the developing world.

This is decidedly not a book for beginners in economics. It is a dense, detailed read, full of equations; readers should take the authors seriously with their oft-repeated asides that knowledge of basic calculus will enhance a person’s ability to understand the book. Specialists will, to be sure, find the book’s argument thought provoking. But they are likely to be frustrated by the authors’ use of several competing styles of citation and the absence of a list of the works cited or bibliography to help the reader translate the citations. Both specialist and generalist alike will also be distracted by the number of typographical errors. (One must pause when reading a book on economics that misspells the name of Milton Friedman.)

Decidedly not a book on the Reagan Revolution (which receives only a few pages here), this book does dare the economic specialist to think outside the box, and to consider a theory that might well explain where the world economy is heading. For that, this provocative book has merit.

BlueInk Heads Up: Despite the typographical flaws, professional economists and professors of economics will find this book both appealing and important.

The Reagan Revolution and the Developing Countries (1980-1990):

A Seminal Decade for Predicting the World Economic Future

Lawrence Feiner and Richard Melson

iUniverse, 353 pages, (paperback) $23.94, 978-1-4620-6189-1

(Reviewed: May, 2012)

CFG Comment on the review:

Irony of ironies:

The “Blue Ink Review” service completely misunderstood the book.

They read the first chapter and saw the “big prediction” of the centrality of the developing world to global growth. Then they read the next two economic chapters and thought that the new growth theories described therein were a validation of our prediction when in fact they were the opposite of our prediction…

They thought they had read enough and stopped.

Actually we did use mathematical growth theory to predict the centrality of LDC growth.

The Solow growth model, the most tested and accepted predicts that there are two sources of economic growth in the world, namely (1) increase in total factor productivity (technology) (2) increase in population.

We pointed out that the populations of the West are stable and that, aside from information technology, there is a stalemate in total factor productivity in the West and therefore additional growth has to come from the developing countries.

So the review was not altogether wrong (if you substitute the Solow growth theory for the new growth theories).

Unfortunately the Blue Ink review, although very good, has, with its emphasis on mathematics and equations, significantly reduced sales of our book. We had expected that, since the book was entitled ” The Reagan Revolution and the developing countries,” the reviewer would skip over the first four non-Reagan chapters and go right to the last chapter on Reagan.
instead the review actually plowed through the two difficult economics chapters and came up with a review based on them. In fact, aside from the mathematical second and third chapters, the book is very well written and highly readable, not a ”’dense read” as the Blue Ink review put it.

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