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Recommended Reading for Our Times

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"In this most recent book, he brings his combination of rigorous economic analysis and psychological insight to our current economic predicament, not only analyzing its causes but also offering possible solutions that could help to inhibit bubbles in the future. More important than the specific suggestions is his willingness to move beyond the Panglossian constraints of conventional economics. We need a bit less 'Economics 101' thinking in public policy and much more 'Psychology 101,' and Bob Shiller shows us how in this book."

ROBERT E. RUBIN

Director, Citigroup;

former U.S. Treasury secretary (1995-99)

"Travels with Herodotus," by Ryszard Kapuscinski (2007)

What it's about:"Travels" is the memoir of Kapuscinski, a Polish foreign correspondent who wrote in his native language, specializing in Africa. When he began his career, he was given a copy of Herodotus's 5th-century B.C. work, "Histories," which Kapuscinski carried through his life and quotes from in his book.

Rubin says:"I read a lot, but I don't read a lot of financial books. I wander into a bookstore and pick up what looks interesting.

"This book is actually two books in one: The descriptions and reflections of Herodotus about his times and travels within the descriptions and reflections of Kapuscinski about his times and travels. The sense you gain is that while the circumstances of mankind have changed dramatically over the millennia, human nature is relatively constant.

"And that takes us to the financial crisis. The pushes and pulls of human nature are key to the behavior of markets. Thus, understanding what led to the Persian-Greek Wars can help understand the reaching for yield that helped cause the credit crisis and the virtual certainty that periodic financial crises will occur as long as we have markets."

JAGDISH BHAGWATI

Professor of economics and law,

Columbia University;


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