strategy and business


Raghuram Rajan, The Third Pillar: How Markets and the State Leave the Community Behind (Penguin Press, 2019)

Victoria Bateman, The Sex Factor: How Women Made the West Rich (Polity, 2019)

Binyamin Appelbaum, The Economists’ Hour: False Prophets, Free Markets, and the Fracture of Society (Little, Brown, 2019)


Around the world, nationalism — of economic, ethnic, and other unpleasant flavors — is unmistakably on the rise. Just how much this trend owes to the economic trauma of the global financial crisis and its aftermath remains a subject of debate. But the shift in the political winds is pushing economics and economists to the margins of policymaking for the first time in decades. On the political right, parties once reliably supportive of economic orthodoxy have embraced restrictions on trade and immigration. Some on the left, in turn, are rediscovering a taste for state management of the economy, while cultivating an interest in heterodox schools of economic thought.

The trend leaves economists doubly chastened: by their failure to understand the economic forces helping to bring the world to this point, and by the resulting loss of influence they feel. In response, ever more members and observers of the profession, including the authors of this year’s best business books on economics, are asking themselves where exactly the field went wrong.

Few dismal scientists are as well positioned to critique the field as Raghuram Rajan. A respected scholar at the University of Chicago and a former head, which suggested that global economic woes were an inevitable consequence of divisions in society created by such factors as rising inequality.

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