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Fairer Deal

Author: Sebastian Mallaby, Paul A. Volcker Senior Fellow for International Economics and Director of the Maurice R. Greenberg Center for Geoeconomic Studies
September 24, 2010
New York Times

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Way way back, which means before the financial sector imploded, it wasn't Wall Street bonuses and vampire squids that excited the most fury. People agonized, instead, about the stagnation of middle-class incomes and exploding inequality. In "Aftershock"--impressively, his 12th book--Robert B. Reich steers our attention back to those earlier worries, which have arguably become more urgent in the wake of the financial crisis. But right on the first page, he comes close to blowing it.

Reich opens his book by quoting Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner. "For too long," Geithner says, referring to the period leading up to the financial bust, "Americans were buying too much and saving too little." This assertion is so sleep-inducingly true that one wonders why Reich bothers to invoke it. But then, astonishingly, the author's purpose becomes clear. He actually doesn't agree with it.

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