"Lucid and frequently surprising... Banerjee and Duflo's arguments are original and open-minded and their evidence is clearly presented. Policy makers and lay readers looking for fresh insights into contemporary economic matters will savor this illuminating book." Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
"Excellent...Few have grappled as energetically with the complexity of real life as Esther Duflo and Abhijit Banerjee, or got their boots as dirty in the process...A treasure trove of insight...[Readers] will be captivated by the authors' curiosity, ferocious intellects and attractive modesty." The Economist
" Good Economics for Hard Times lives up to its authors' reputations, giving a masterly tour of the current evidence on critical policy questions facing less-than-perfect markets in both developed and developing countries, from migration to trade to postindustrial blight." William Easterly, The Wall Street Journal
"An excellent antidote to the most dangerous forms of economics bashing...Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo, write beautifully and are in full command of their subject. Perhaps the greatest contribution of Good Economics... is precisely this: it demonstrates both the brilliant insights that mainstream economics can make available to us and its limits, which a progressive internationalism has a duty to transcend."
Yanis Varoufakis, The Guardian
"Not all economists wear ties and think like bankers. In their wonderfully refreshing book, Banerjee and Duflo delve into impressive areas of new research questioning conventional views about issues ranging from trade to top income taxation and mobility,
and offer their own powerful vision of how we can grapple with them. A must-read." Thomas Piketty, professor, Paris School of Economics, and author of Capital in the Twenty-first Century
"A magnificent achievement, and the perfect book for our time. Banerjee and Duflo brilliantly illuminate the largest issues of the day, including immigration, trade, climate change, and inequality. If you read one policy book this year heck, this decade -
read this one." Cass R. Sunstein, Robert Walmsley University Professor, Harvard University, and author, How Change Happens
"Banerjee and Duflo have shown brilliantly how the best recent research in economics can be used to tackle the most pressing social issues: unequal economic growth, climate change, lack of trust in public action. Their book is an essential wake-up call for intelligent and immediate action!" Emmanuel Saez, professor of economics at UC Berkeley
"One of the things that makes economics interesting and difficult is the need to balance the neat generalities of theory against the enormous variety of deviations from standard assumptions: lags, rigidities, simple inattention, society's irrepressible tendency to alter what are sometimes thought of as bedrock characteristics of economic behavior. Banerjee and Duflo are masters of this terrain. They have digested hundreds of lab experiments, field experiments, statistical studies, and common observation to find regularities and irregularities that shape important patterns of economic behavior and need to be taken into account when we think about central issues of policy analysis. They do this with simple logic and plain English. Their book is as stimulating as it gets." Robert Solow, Nobel Prize winner and emeritus professor of economics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
"In these tumultuous times when many bad policies and ideas are bandied around in the name of economics, common sense-and good economics-is even more sorely needed than usual. This wide-ranging and engaging book by two leading economists puts the record straight and shows that we have much to learn from sensible economic ideas, and not just about immigration, trade, automation, and growth, but also about the environment and political discourse. A must-read." Daron Acemoglu, Elizabeth and James Killian Professor of Economics, MIT, and coauthor of Why Nations Fail
"Banerjee and Duflo move beyond the simplistic forecasts that abound in the Twittersphere and in the process reframe the role of economics. Their dogged optimism about the potential of economics research to deliver makes for an informative and uplifting read." Pinelopi Goldberg, Elihu Professor of Economics, Yale University, and chief economist of the World Bank Group
"In Good Economics for Hard Times, Banerjee and Duflo, two of the world's great economists, parse through what economists have to say about today's most difficult challenges-immigration, job losses from automation and trade, inequality, tribalism and prejudice, and climate change. The writing is witty and irreverent, always informative but never dull. Banerjee and Duflo are the teachers you always wished for but never had, and this book is an essential guide for the great policy debates of our times." Raghuram Rajan, Katherine Dusak Miller Distinguished Service Professor of Finance at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business
"Quality of life means more than just consumption": Two MIT economists urge that a smarter, more politically aware economics be brought to bear on social issues.
It's no secret, write Banerjee and Duflo (co-authors: Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way To Fight Global Poverty, 2011), that "we seem to have fallen on hard times." Immigration, trade, inequality, and taxation problems present themselves daily, and they seem to be intractable. Economics can be put to use in figuring out these big-issue questions. Data can be adduced, for example, to answer the question of whether immigration tends to suppress wages. The answer: "There is no evidence low-skilled migration to rich countries drives wage and employment down for the natives." In fact, it opens up opportunities for those natives by freeing them to look for better work. The problem becomes thornier when it comes to the matter of free trade; as the authors observe, "left-behind people live in left-behind places," which explains why regional poverty descended on Appalachia when so many manufacturing jobs left for China in the age of globalism, leaving behind not just left-behind people but also people ripe for exploitation by nationalist politicians. The authors add, interestingly, that the same thing occurred in parts of Germany, Spain, and Norway that fell victim to the "China shock." In what they call a "slightly technical aside," they build a case for addressing trade issues not with trade wars but with consumption taxes: "It makes no sense to ask agricultural workers to lose their jobs just so steelworkers can keep theirs, which is what tariffs accomplish." Policymakers might want to consider such counsel, especially when it is coupled with the observation that free trade benefits workers in poor countries but punishes workers in rich ones.
Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.