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Economic History

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  1. 9.6 hrs • 9/20/2016 • Unabridged

    The United States has two separate banking systems today―one serving the well-to-do and another exploiting everyone else. How the Other Half Banks contributes to the growing conversation on American inequality by highlighting one of its prime causes: unequal credit. Mehrsa Baradaran examines how a significant portion of the population, deserted by banks, is forced to wander through a Wild West of payday lenders and check-cashing services to cover emergency expenses and pay for necessities―all thanks to deregulation that began in the 1970s and continues decades later. In an age of corporate megabanks with trillions of dollars in assets, it is easy to forget that America’s banking system was originally created as a public service. Banks have always relied on credit from the federal government, provided on favorable terms so that they could issue low-interest loans. But as banks grew in size and political influence, they shed their social contract with the American people, demanding to be treated as a private industry free from any public-serving responsibility. They abandoned less profitable, low-income customers in favor of wealthier clients and high-yield investments. Fringe lenders stepped in to fill the void. This two-tier banking system has become even more unequal since the 2008 financial crisis. Baradaran proposes a solution: reenlisting the US Post Office in its historic function of providing bank services. The post office played an important but largely forgotten role in the creation of American democracy, and it could be deployed again to level the field of financial opportunity.

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    How the Other Half Banks by Mehrsa Baradaran

    How the Other Half Banks

    9.6 hrs • 9/20/16 • Unabridged
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  2. 9.9 hrs • 9/20/2016 • Unabridged

    A provocative look at the world’s most difficult, seemingly ineradicable problems—and the surprising stories of the countries that solved them. We all know the bad news. Global warming escalates unchecked. National economies are only beginning to recover from the crash of 2008, and in most nations income inequality is growing faster than GDP. The promise of the Arab Spring has largely given way to civil wars and a refugee crisis. Open a newspaper, browse the titles in your bookstore, or click on cable news, and the dark tide will batter you like a tsunami. We are living in an age of unprecedented, irreversible decline—or so we’re constantly being told. Jonathan Tepperman’s The Fix is a lively and unconventional guide to the global solutions hiding in plain sight. It identifies ten pervasive and seemingly impossible challenges—including immigration reform, income inequality, political corruption, and Islamic terrorism—and shows that each has a solution, and not merely a hypothetical one. In his close analysis of government initiatives as diverse as Brazil’s Bolsa Família program, Lee Kuan Yew’s anti-corruption crusade, and Bloomberg’s reform of the NYPD, Tepperman isolates the universally applicable policy measures that have improved equality, incomes, and stability in wildly diverse societies. It flips conventional political wisdom, suggesting, for example, that the US Congress could learn a thing or two about compromise and conciliation from its Mexican counterpart. As the managing editor of Foreign Affairs, Tepperman is a journalist and policy advisor who has spent most of the last twenty years traveling and writing about international politics. His expertise makes The Fix a work of unusual insight. It is a necessary corrective to the hand-wringing and grim prognostication that dominates international affairs coverage, making a data-driven case for optimism in a time of crushing pessimism.

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    The Fix

    9.9 hrs • 9/20/16 • Unabridged
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  3. 10.3 hrs • 9/1/2016 • Unabridged

    Between 1959 and 1989, Soviet scientists and officials made numerous attempts to network their nation -- to construct a nationwide computer network. None of these attempts succeeded, and the enterprise had been abandoned by the time the Soviet Union fell apart. Meanwhile, ARPANET, the American precursor to the Internet, went online in 1969. Why did the Soviet network, with top-level scientists and patriotic incentives, fail while the American network succeeded? In How Not to Network a Nation, Benjamin Peters reverses the usual cold war dualities and argues that the American ARPANET took shape thanks to well-managed state subsidies and collaborative research environments and the Soviet network projects stumbled because of unregulated competition among self-interested institutions, bureaucrats, and others. The capitalists behaved like socialists while the socialists behaved like capitalists. After examining the midcentury rise of cybernetics, the science of self-governing systems, and the emergence in the Soviet Union of economic cybernetics, Peters complicates this uneasy role reversal while chronicling the various Soviet attempts to build a "unified information network." Drawing on previously unknown archival and historical materials, he focuses on the final, and most ambitious of these projects, the All-State Automated System of Management (OGAS), and its principal promoter, Viktor M. Glushkov. Peters describes the rise and fall of OGAS -- its theoretical and practical reach, its vision of a national economy managed by network, the bureaucratic obstacles it encountered, and the institutional stalemate that killed it. Finally, he considers the implications of the Soviet experience for today's networked world.

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    How Not to Network a Nation

    10.3 hrs • 9/1/16 • Unabridged
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  4. 10.8 hrs • 7/1/2016 • Unabridged

    A masterful history of a long underappreciated institution, How the Post Office Created America examines the surprising role of the postal service in our nation’s political, social, economic, and physical development. The founders established the post office before they had even signed the Declaration of Independence, and for a very long time, it was the US government’s largest and most important endeavor—indeed, it was the government for most citizens. This was no conventional mail network but the central nervous system of the new body politic, designed to bind thirteen quarrelsome colonies into the United States by delivering news about public affairs to every citizen—a radical idea that appalled Europe’s great powers. America’s uniquely democratic post powerfully shaped its lively, argumentative culture of uncensored ideas and opinions and made it the world’s information and communications superpower with astonishing speed. Winifred Gallagher presents the history of the post office as America’s own story, told from a fresh perspective over more than two centuries. The mandate to deliver the mail—then “the media”—imposed the federal footprint on vast, often contested parts of the continent and transformed a wilderness into a social landscape of post roads and villages centered on post offices. The post was the catalyst of the nation’s transportation grid, from the stagecoach lines to the airlines, and the lifeline of the great migration from the Atlantic to the Pacific. It enabled America to shift from an agrarian to an industrial economy and to develop the publishing industry, the consumer culture, and the political party system. Still one of the country’s two major civilian employers, the post was the first to hire women, African Americans, and other minorities for positions in public life. Starved by two world wars and the Great Depression, confronted with the country’s increasingly anti-institutional mind-set, and struggling with its doubled mail volume, the post stumbled badly in the turbulent 1960s. Distracted by the ensuing modernization of its traditional services, however, it failed to transition from paper mail to email, which prescient observers saw as its logical next step. Now the post office is at a crossroads. Before deciding its future, Americans should understand what this grand yet overlooked institution has accomplished since 1775 and consider what it should and could contribute in the twenty-first century. Gallagher argues that now, more than ever before, the imperiled post office deserves this effort, because just as the founders anticipated, it created forward-looking, communication-oriented, idea-driven America.

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    How the Post Office Created America

    10.8 hrs • 7/1/16 • Unabridged
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  5. 13.4 hrs • 5/17/2016 • Unabridged

    Eight years on from the biggest market meltdown since the Great Depression, the key lessons of the crisis of 2008 still remain unlearned—and our financial system is just as vulnerable as ever. Many of us know that our government failed to fix the banking system after the subprime mortgage crisis. But what few of us realize is how the misguided financial practices and philosophies that nearly toppled the global financial system have come to infiltrate ALL American businesses,  putting us on a collision course for another cataclysmic meltdown. Drawing on in-depth reporting and exclusive interviews at the highest rungs of Wall Street and Washington, Time assistant managing editor and economic columnist Rana Foroohar shows how the “financialization of America” - the trend by which finance and its way of thinking have come to reign supreme - is perpetuating Wall Street's reign over Main Street, widening the gap between rich and poor, and threatening the future of the American Dream. Policy makers get caught up in the details of regulating “Too Big To Fail” banks, but the problems in our market system go much broader and deeper than that. Consider that: · Thanks to 40 years of policy changes and bad decisions, only about 15 % of all the money in our market system actually ends up in the real economy – the rest stays within the closed loop of finance itself. · The financial sector takes a quarter of all corporate profits in this country while creating only 4 % of American jobs. · The tax code continues to favor debt over equity, making it easier for companies to hoard cash overseas rather than reinvest it on our shores. · Our biggest and most profitable corporations are investing more money in stock buybacks than in research and innovation. · And, still, the majority of the financial regulations promised after the 2008 meltdown have yet come to pass, thanks to cozy relationship between our lawmakers and the country’s wealthiest financiers.       Exploring these forces, which have have led American businesses to favor balancing-sheet engineering over the actual kind and the pursuit of short-term corporate profits over job creation, Foroohar shows how financialization has so gravely harmed our society, and why reversing this trend is of grave importance to us all. Through colorful stories of both "Takers” and "Makers,” she’ll reveal how we change the system for a better and more sustainable shared economic future.From the Hardcover edition.

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    Makers and Takers

    13.4 hrs • 5/17/16 • Unabridged
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  6. 0 reviews 0 5 5 5 out of 5 stars 5/5
    13.7 hrs • 2/9/2016 • Unabridged

    Over the past two centuries or so, capitalism has undergone profound changes—economic cycles that veer from boom to bust—from which it has always emerged transformed and strengthened. Surveying this turbulent history, Paul Mason’s Postcapitalism argues that we are on the brink of a change so big and so profound that this time capitalism itself, the immensely complex system within which entire societies function, will mutate into something wholly new. At the heart of this change is information technology, a revolution that is driven by capitalism but, with its tendency to push the value of much of what we make toward zero, has the potential to destroy an economy based on markets, wages, and private ownership. Almost unnoticed in the niches and hollows of the market system, swaths of economic life are beginning to move to a different rhythm. Vast numbers of people are changing how they behave and live, in ways contrary to the current system of state-backed corporate capitalism. And as the terrain changes, new paths open. In this bold and prophetic book, Mason shows how, from the ashes of the crisis, we have the chance to create a more socially just and sustainable economy. Although the dangers ahead are profound, he argues that there is cause for hope. This is the first time in human history in which, equipped with an understanding of what is happening around us, we can predict and shape the future.

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    Postcapitalism by Paul Mason

    Postcapitalism

    13.7 hrs • 2/9/16 • Unabridged
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  7. 6.7 hrs • 2/4/2016 • Unabridged

    With grace and wit, America’s foremost economist examines the boom-and-bust that led to the stock market crash of 1929. Economic writings are rarely notable for their entertainment value, but this widely admired bestseller is the exception. Galbraith’s light touch makes his expert analysis of America’s greatest financial disaster a surprisingly engaging listen for anyone.

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    The Great Crash 1929

    6.7 hrs • 2/4/16 • Unabridged
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  8. 12.2 hrs • 1/25/2016 • Unabridged

    The world is a better place than it used to be. People are healthier, wealthier, and live longer. Yet the escapes from destitution by so many has left gaping inequalities between people and nations. In The Great Escape, Angus Deaton—one of the foremost experts on economic development and on poverty—tells the remarkable story of how, beginning 250 years ago, some parts of the world experienced sustained progress, opening up gaps and setting the stage for today’s disproportionately unequal world. Deaton takes an in-depth look at the historical and ongoing patterns behind the health and wealth of nations, and addresses what needs to be done to help those left behind. Deaton describes vast innovations and wrenching setbacks: the successes of antibiotics, pest control, vaccinations, and clean water on the one hand, and disastrous famines and the HIV/AIDS epidemic on the other. He examines the United States, a nation that has prospered but is today experiencing slower growth and increasing inequality. He also considers how economic growth in India and China has improved the lives of more than a billion people. Deaton argues that international aid has been ineffective and even harmful. He suggests alternative efforts—including reforming incentives to drug companies and lifting trade restrictions—that will allow the developing world to bring about its own Great Escape. Demonstrating how changes in health and living standards have transformed our lives, The Great Escape is a powerful guide to addressing the well-being of all nations.

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    The Great Escape by Angus Deaton

    The Great Escape

    12.2 hrs • 1/25/16 • Unabridged
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  9. 10.2 hrs • 11/3/2015 • Unabridged

    In A Just and Generous Nation, the eminent historian Harold Holzer and the noted economist Norton Garfinkle present a groundbreaking new account of the beliefs that inspired our sixteenth president to go to war when the Southern states seceded from the Union. Rather than a commitment to eradicating slavery or a defense of the Union, they argue that Lincoln’s guiding principle was the defense of equal economic opportunity. Lincoln firmly believed that the government’s primary role was to ensure that all Americans had the opportunity to better their station in life. As president, he worked tirelessly to enshrine this ideal within the federal government. He funded railroads and canals, supported education, and issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which opened the door for former slaves to join white Americans in striving for self-improvement. In our own age of unprecedented inequality, A Just and Generous Nation reestablishes Lincoln’s legacy as the protector not just of personal freedom but of the American dream itself.

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    A Just and Generous Nation by Harold Holzer, Norton Garfinkle

    A Just and Generous Nation

    10.2 hrs • 11/3/15 • Unabridged
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  10. 22.6 hrs • 10/5/2015 • Unabridged

    Ben S. Bernanke’s rise to chair of the Fed, the massive financial crisis, and the Fed’s bold and effective response. In 2006, Ben S. Bernanke was appointed chair of the Federal Reserve, capping a meteoric trajectory from a rural South Carolina childhood to professorships at Stanford and Princeton, to public service in Washington’s halls of power. There would be no time to celebrate, however―the burst of the housing bubble in 2007 set off a domino effect that would bring the global financial system to the brink of meltdown. In The Courage to Act, Ben Bernanke pulls back the curtain on the tireless and ultimately successful efforts to prevent a mass economic failure. Working with two US presidents and two Treasury secretaries, Dr. Bernanke and his colleagues used every Fed capability, no matter how arcane, to keep the US economy afloat. From his arrival in Washington in 2002 and his experiences before the crisis, to the intense days and weeks of the crisis itself, and through the Great Recession that followed, Dr. Bernanke gives readers an unequaled perspective on the American economy. This narrative will reveal for the first time how the creativity and decisiveness of a few key leaders prevented an economic collapse of unimaginable scale.

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    The Courage to Act

    22.6 hrs • 10/5/15 • Unabridged
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  11. 17.8 hrs • 10/1/2015 • Unabridged

    Now in audio, the updated and expanded edition of David Graeber’s “fresh, fascinating, thought-provoking, and exceedingly timely” (Financial Times) history of debt Here anthropologist David Graeber presents a stunning reversal of conventional wisdom: he shows that before there was money, there was debt. For more than 5,000 years, since the beginnings of the first agrarian empires, humans have used elaborate credit systems to buy and sell goods-that is, long before the invention of coins or cash. It is in this era, Graeber argues, that we also first encounter a society divided into debtors and creditors. Graeber shows that arguments about debt and debt forgiveness have been at the center of political debates from Italy to China, as well as sparking innumerable insurrections. He also brilliantly demonstrates that the language of the ancient works of law and religion (words like “guilt,” “sin,” and “redemption”) derive in large part from ancient debates about debt, and shape even our most basic ideas of right and wrong. We are still fighting these battles today without knowing it.

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    Debt

    17.8 hrs • 10/1/15 • Unabridged
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  12. 0 reviews 0 5 4 4 out of 5 stars 4/5
    5.6 hrs • 8/4/2015 • Unabridged

    The bizarre true story of the criminals behind the second-largest bank heist in American history One night in a small North Carolina town, a down-on-his-luck guard at Loomis Fargo manages to steal $17 million—literally more than one ton of cash. Despite being caught on camera wheeling the money from the vault to the getaway van, David Ghantt makes off to Mexico before the FBI can blink. There’s just one hitch: Ghantt has entrusted the money to an oddball crew of accomplices who had wooed him into committing this massive theft in the first place—and who, he soon learns, are trying to take him out. Now one of the most wanted men in America, and with the FBI hot on his heels, Ghantt must figure out how to get his money, get away from a hit man, and get even. In this outrageously entertaining book, Jeff Diamant, the Charlotte Observer’s lead reporter on the case, offers the definitive inside account of this astonishing true story that has captivated American audiences on the news.

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    Heist by Jeff Diamant

    Heist

    5.6 hrs • 8/4/15 • Unabridged
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  13. 11.1 hrs • 3/10/2015 • Unabridged

    Money. We obsess about it in a material sense, but we don’t know much about it on a deeper level. We know it makes the world go ‘round, but do we really understand how? It’s what we want, but why? Coined is a colorful take on the history of money and its meaning in our lives. Kabir Sehgal’s voice and vision are unique products of his sophisticated grasp of the subject—he is both a keen observer of and a high-stakes player in the global economic continuum. Sehgal is an approachable, authoritative guide to an unprecedented interdisciplinary safari, in which readers will learn how money and our intrinsic compulsion to value and exchange is fundamental to our survival. Exploring topics like the ancient Vedic notion of debt, monkeys who understand fruit juice as currency, the neuroscience of gambling, money in art, and many more ideas, Coined mixes stories from the front lines of global currency exchange with extensive, thoughtful research. With often surprising and thought-provoking anecdotes and research, Coined presents an entertaining, multidimensional portrait of currency through the ages.

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    Coined

    11.1 hrs • 3/10/15 • Unabridged
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  14. 14.1 hrs • 2/17/2015 • Unabridged

    The meeting of world leaders at Bretton Woods in 1944 was the only time countries from around the world agreed to overhaul the structure of the international monetary system. The system they set up presided over the longest, strongest, and most stable period of growth the world economy has ever seen. At the very heart of the conference was the love-hate relationship between the Briton John Maynard Keynes, the greatest economist of his day, and his American counterpart Harry Dexter White (later revealed to be passing information secretly to Russian spies). Both were intent on creating an economic settlement that would put right the wrongs of Versailles. Both were working to prevent another world war. But they were also working to defend their countries’ national interests. Drawing on a wealth of unpublished accounts, diaries, and oral histories, this brilliant book describes the conference in stunning color and clarity. This is an extraordinary debut from a talented historian.

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    The Summit

    14.1 hrs • 2/17/15 • Unabridged
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  15. 14.7 hrs • 1/6/2015 • Unabridged

    Drawing together developments in religion, philosophy, art, technology, fashion, and finance, Mark C. Taylor presents an original and rich account of a great paradox of our times: how the very forces and technologies that were supposed to free us by saving time and labor now trap us in a race we can never win. The faster we go, the less time we have, and the more we try to catch up, the farther behind we fall.  Connecting our speed obsession with today’s global capitalism, Taylor composes a grand narrative showing how commitments to economic growth and extreme competition, combined with accelerating technological innovation, have brought us close to disaster. Psychologically, environmentally, economically, and culturally—speed is taking a profound toll on our lives.

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    Speed Limits

    14.7 hrs • 1/6/15 • Unabridged
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  16. 14.6 hrs • 12/16/2014 • Unabridged

    The modern American economy was the creation of four men: Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller, Jay Gould, and J. P. Morgan. They were the giants of the Gilded Age, a moment of riotous growth that established America as the richest, most inventive, and most productive country on the planet. Acclaimed author Charles R. Morris vividly brings these men and their times to life. The ruthlessly competitive Carnegie, the imperial Rockefeller, and the provocateur Gould were obsessed with progress, experiment, and speed. They were balanced by Morgan, the gentleman businessman, who fought, instead, for a global trust in American business. Through their antagonism and verve, they built an industrial behemoth—and a country of middle-class consumers. The Tycoons tells the incredible story of how these four determined men wrenched the economy into the modern age, inventing a nation of full economic participation that could not have been imagined only a few decades earlier.

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    The Tycoons by Charles R. Morris

    The Tycoons

    14.6 hrs • 12/16/14 • Unabridged
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