Color of Money Book Club selection: Robert Reich's "Aftershock"

By Michelle Singletary
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, October 2, 2010; 8:57 PM


The next economy

and America's Future

By Robert B. Reich


192 pp. $25

So what are we to do about an economy that is so badly broken?

We have to look at where we've been, figure out what went wrong and be open to new ways of doing things.

That's what Robert B. Reich does in "Aftershock: The Next Economy and America's Future" (Knopf, $25), which is the October selection for the Color of Money Book Club.

But I'm warning you. This isn't the type of book you take to the beach or set by your nightstand, eagerly awaiting the hour when all of the children are in bed. It's academic. And yet Reich's historical look at the economic crisis is a good read.

So, yes, you might roll your eyes at this selection. But focus anyway on Reich's analysis on how to fix our economy.

Reich, secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton and now a professor of public policy at the University of California at Berkeley, provides a thoughtful dialogue about the structural problems that led to the recent recession. Even as things seem to be getting better, the aftershock has only begun, Reich says.

"The future is uncertain, of course, but indications are that the so-called recovery will be anemic," Reich writes. "A large percentage of Americans will remain jobless, or their wages will drop. American consumers will not be able to spend enough to keep the recovery going. Without sufficient customers, businesses will not invest enough to fuel a sustained growth. Foreign markets, especially China, will not buy enough American exports to make up for the shortfall because they will be concerned about their own unemployment.. . . And the U.S. government will not be able to run deficits large or long enough, or keep money cheap enough for a sufficient length of time, to fill the gap."

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