George H. Blackford, Ph.D.

 Economist at Large

 Email: george(at)


It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble.

It’s what you know for sure that just ain't so.
Attributed to Mark Twain (among others)



Economic Papers
Political Essays


horizontal rule

Where Did All The Money Go?

Annotated Bibliography

horizontal rule publishes reviews by readers that give you some idea what others think of each book.  The links to books below take you to these reviews, whenever they are available.  The author's name is generally linked to an online biography. 


Acemoglu, Daron and James Robinson (2012) Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty attempts to explain the way in which the evolution of economic and political institutions interact to create economic prosperity and economic and political decline.


Acharya, Viral and Matthew Richardson (Editors), Restoring Financial Stability: How to Repair a Failed System (2009) is a collection of papers written by the faculty of the New York University Stern School of Business that explain the fundamental causes of the current financial crisis and offers proposals as to how to prevent such crises in the future. 


Akerlof, George and Robert J. Shiller (2009) Animal Spirits: How Human Psychology Drives the Economy, and Why It Matters for Global Capitalism examines the role of confidence in causing depressions.


Alperovitz, Gar and Lew Daly, Unjust Deserts: How the Rich Are Taking Our Common Inheritance (2008) examines the contribution of what we have inherited from the past to our ability as individuals to produce wealth in the present.


Altemeyer, Bob, The Authoritarians (2006)  examines the scientific research pertaining to the personal beliefs actions of those people who are particularly susceptible to rightwing propaganda as well as those of the leaders of right-wing movements.  He relates this research to the history of rightwing movements the 1930s as well as to the rightwing movements today.  Most important, he explains why these movements pose a threat to our freedom and to the very existence of our democratic society.


Amy, Douglas J., Government is Good: An Unapologetic Defense of a Vital Institution (2010) provides a comprehensive discussion of the role of government in providing for the common good in society that explains why strong government is essential to our economic wellbeing and individual freedom and liberty.  Amy's work provides a lesson in civics that the American electorate desperately needs.


Bagehot, Walter, Lombard Street: A Description of the Money Market (1873) is the classic work on the role of a central bank in dealing with financial crises.


Bair, Sheila A., Bull by the Horns: Fighting to Save Main Street from Wall Street and Wall Street from Itself  (2012) not only examines the interactions between the regulatory agencies during the financial crisis, but provides an exceedingly good explanation of the problems that led to the crisis, and the kinds of regulatory changes needed to avoid this kind of crisis in the future. 


Baker, Dean, Taking Economics Seriously (2010) examines how economic are being misused and how they should be used to deal with economic problems .  


———, Plunder and Blunder: The Rise and Fall of the Bubble Economy (2009) explains the nature of speculative bubbles, why speculative bubbles have become such an endemic part of our economic system over the past thirty years, and how the housing bubble led to the crisis of 2008.


———, and Mark Weisbrot, Social Security: The Phony Crisis (1999) explains why there is no economic or demographic crisis that requires the dismantling of the Social Security System.


Bernanke, Ben S., Essays on the Great Depression (2000) provides a collection of essays on the causes and nature of the Great Depression from a Neoclassical perspective.  It also examines the role of the Gold Standard in the international transmission of the economic collapse among countries. 


Besharov, Douglas J., Rethinking WIC: An Evaluation of the Women, Infants, and Children Program. I read this book at the request of one of the authors, Douglas J. Besharov, during the correspondence I had with him concerning some comments he had made in a Capital Journal interview that I found objectionable. (See: Correspondence With Douglas J. Besharov.) I was pleasantly surprised to find how thorough this book is in analyzing the WIC program and suggesting ways the program can be improved. I was somewhat disappointed by its negative tone in Part One but was very impressed with the inclusion in Part Two of the critical comments by the researchers who were examine in Part One. I could make a list of those areas where I believe the authors have gone astray in Part I, but I see no need to do so as the comments in Part Two include and go beyond any criticisms I might have of my own. This book is remarkable.


Black, William K., The Best Way to Rob a Bank Is to Own One: How Corporate Executives and Politicians Looted the S&L Industry (2005) provides an in depth look at the savings and loan crisis of the 1980s.

Bogle, John C., Enough: True Measures of Money, Business, and Life (2009) examines the breakdown in business ethics that has accompanied the government deregulation of the economic system over the past thirty years.


———, The Battle for the Soul of Capitalism by (2005) examines the transformation of the American capitalist system from owner's capitalism where stock owners control corporations to manager's capitalism where managers control corporations.  This book makes an extremely important contribution to the understanding of how today's economic system works.


Bookstaber, Richard, A Demon of Our Own Design: Markets, Hedge Funds, and the Perils of Financial Innovation (2007) examines the role of market complexity in risk management and economic instability. 


Boyer, Richard O. and Herbert M. Morais, Labor's Untold Story (1979) tells the story of the labor movement from the prospective of the union organizers.


Bruner, Robert F., The Panic of 1907: Lessons Learned from the Market's Perfect Storm (2007) provides a comprehensive examination of the financial crisis of 1907 that led to the founding of the Federal Reserve System in 1913.


Buchanan, James M., and Richard A. Musgrave Public Finance and Public Choice: Two Contrasting Visions of the State (2004) provides a valuable insight into the way in which the fundamental issues surrounding the free market ideology have been debated within the discipline of economics.  


Carson, Rachel, Silent Spring (1962) examined the effects of pollution on the environment in the United States. 


Carville, James and Paul Begala Take It Back: Our Party, Our Country, Our Future (2008) discusses some of the consequences of the rise of Free Market Movement in the United States over the past forty years and the failure of the Democratic Party to confront these consequences. 


Cassidy, John, How Markets Fail: The Logic of Economic Calamities (2009) is the most uneven book I have ever read.  Part I provides an excellent discussion of the failings of Utopian Economics, Part II provide an adequate discussion of Reality-Based Economics, and Part III contains so many misstatements, misunderstandings, and outright falsehoods that it appears to have been written by someone other than the person who wrote Part I.  I do not recommend reading this book beyond Chapter 16.


Chandrasekaran, Rajiv, Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq's Green Zone (2006) documents the role that ideological bias played in the ineptitude, incompetence, and corruption played in our attempts at nation building in Iraq.  When read in conjunction with Naomi Klein’s book, The Shock Doctrine, it would appear that this ineptitude and incompetence may have been intentional.   


Chriss, Neil A., Black-Scholes and Beyond: Option Pricing Models (1997) explains the Black-Scholes model of option pricing and the way this model has been extended to handle the pricing of other derivatives.


Cohan, William D., House of Cards: A Tale of Hubris and Wretched Excess on Wall Street (2009) tells the story of the fall of Bear Stearns. 


Committee on Banking and Currency, Stock Exchange Practices (1934), better known as The Pecora Report, documents and elaborates on the financial abuses that occurred during the 1920s and early1930s that led to the financial regulatory system put in place during the 1930s.


Cooper, George, The Origin of Financial Crises (2008) examines the role of the rational/efficient market fallacy of the Chicago School in deregulating the financial markets and generating the housing crises. 


Cowie, Jefferson R, Stayin' Alive: The 1970s and the Last Days of the Working Class (2010) examines the decline of the labor movement since the 1970s.


Deaton, Angus, The Great Escape: Health, Wealth, and the Origins of Inequality (2014) examines the way in which health, wealth, and inequality are created within society and how economic development is inhibited by foreign aid.


Derman, Emanuel, My Life as a Quant: Reflections of Physics and Finance (2005) examines the role played by mathematicians, physicists, and other quantitative types on Wall Street from1985 through 2005.  


Dew-Becker, Ian and Robert J. Gordon, Where Did the Productivity Growth Go? Inflation Dynamics and the Distribution of Income (2005) examines the discrepancy between the distribution of income and increases in productivity.


Domhoff, G. William, Who Rules America? (1967) is the first in a series of books by Domhoff that examine the power structure in America and explains how that power structure maintains control within our society.  Much of Domhoff's analysis is explained on his website,


———, Who Rules America Now? A View From the 80s (1986) is an update of Domhoff's 1967 book that examines the changes in the power structure that took place in the 1970s and early 1980s.


———, The Myth of Liberal Ascendancy: Corporate Dominance from the Great Depression to the Great Recession (2014) is a truly remarkable book in which Domhoff examines in great detail the way in which the conservative political collation in the United States has dominated American economic policy since 1939.  


Dowd, Kevin and Martin Hutchinson, Alchemists of Loss: How Modern Finance and Government Intervention Crashed the Financial System (2010) provides an account of how institutional changes led to perverse incentives and short-rum, optimizing behavior that, when combined with naive risk models and a misguided belief in the efficiency of markets ultimately led to excess risk taking and inevitably to a collapse of the system. The authors attempt to explain all of this in terms of government meddling with the economy in spite of the fact that the prelude to this crisis was twenty odd years of deregulation in which the government refused to meddle in the markets.


Durbin, Michael, All About Derivatives (2006) provides a basic introduction to derivatives, what they are, how they are priced, and how they are used.


Eichengreen, Barry, Hall of Mirrors The Great Depression, the Great Recession, and the Uses— and Misuses— of History (2015) examines the parallels between the 1920s and the lead up to the Great Depression.


———, Exorbitant Privilege: The Rise and Fall of the Dollar and the Future of the International Monetary System (2011) examines the role of the dollar in international finance and trade and explains why the US financial crisis has not yet led to an international exchange collapse and what could cause this situation to change. 


———, Golden Fetters: The Gold Standard and the Great Depression, 1919-1939 (1995) examines how the functioning of the post World War I gold standard contributed to the Great Depression of the 1930s.  


Farmer, Roger E. A., Expectations, Employment, and Prices (2010) an original work that attempts to integrate modern macroeconomic theory with Keynes's theory of expectations.


FCIC, The Financial Crisis Inquiry Report, Authorized Edition: Final Report of the National Commission on the Causes of the Financial and Economic Crisis in the United States (2011) provides an in depth examination of the 2008 financial crisis.


FDIC, History of the 80s, (1997) provides an insightful analysis of the regulatory failures that led to the financial crisis of 1988.  Again, it is astounding how the Bush Administration either ignored or was completely oblivious to principles explained in this book. This book can be read on line by clicking on one of the above links.  


Ferrara, Peter J., Social Security: The Inherent Contradiction (1980) is an example of the schizophrenic nature of ideological logic.  In the course of trying to prove the inherent contradiction of attempting to serve a welfare function within the context of an insurance program, Ferrara unwittingly provides a compelling argument for eliminating the income cap on payroll taxes and extending Social Security taxes to unearned income.  His argument that the pay-as-you-go nature of Social Security reduces economic growth depends crucially on the absurd assumption that an increase in saving forces investors to invest.  At the same time, his seemingly irrefutable math/logic that Social Security beneficiaries would be better off if they were to put their payroll tax money in private investment accounts is oblivious to the risks involved in this scheme and the dismal history of private retirement accounts and pension funds going broke. 


Field, Alexander J., A Great Leap Forward: 1930s Depression and U.S. Economic Growth (2011) examines the ways in which increases in total factor productivity change over time and attempts to explain why it increased dramatically during the 1930s, fell during World War II, increased again following the war, and then decreased after 1973.


Fisher, Irving, Booms and Depressions (1932) provides the first explanation as to how excess leverage inspired during an economic boom leads to financial crises and economic collapse in a capitalistic system.


Fox, Justin, The Myth of the Rational Market: A History of Risk, Reward, and Delusion on Wall Street (2009) examines the history of the rational/efficient market hypothesis as it was created by the free market ideologues in the utopian world of the Chicago School of Economics.


Frank, Thomas, The Wrecking Crew: How Conservatives Rule (2008) explains the role of the Free Market Movement in the rise of the Republican Party from the Goldwater defeat in 1964 through the present and explains the role of each of the participants and factions in this rise, including the role played by Jack Abramoff from the 1970s onward.


———, What’s the Matter With Kansas: How Conservatives Won the Heart of America (2004) explains how the Rightwing Propaganda Machine was able to shift the body politic to the right in Kansas.


Freeman, Joshua B., Working-Class New York: Life and Labor Since World War II (2000) presents a history of New York City since World War II in which he examines the effects of the policies discussed by Tabb as manufacturing businesses migrated from New York to right-to-work states in the South.


Friedman, Milton and Rose Friedman, Free to Choose: A Personal Statement (1980) is a well written explanation of Friedman’s view of the benefits of free market capitalism.  It combines an insightful analysis of the inefficiencies of government interference with markets with an appalling lack of insight as to the harm caused by market failures in the lives of ordinary people. 


——— and Anna Jacobson Schwartz, A Monetary History of the United States, 1867-1960 (1971) is a well written tome that provides a comprehensive history of the financial system in the United States. 


——— and Anna Jacobson Schwartz, The Great Contraction, 1929-1933 (1963) is also a rather short, very well written history of the stock market crash of 1929 and its aftermath.


———, Capitalism and Freedom (1962) provides an explanation of Friedman’s view of the relationship between free market capitalism and his concept of freedom.


———, Essays in Positive Economic (1953) explains Friedman's epistemological understanding of economic theory.


Galbraith, James K., Inequality and Instability: A Study of the World Economy Just Before the Great Crisis (2012) examines the role of inequality in increasing unemployment and economic instability.


———, The Predator State: How Conservatives Abandoned the Free Market and Why Liberals Should Too (2008) examines the institutional changes in the world economy that have taken place over the past sixty years and suggests a plan to deal with the disastrous consequences that have resulted from the free market economic policies of the past thirty years.  


Galbraith, John Kenneth, The New Industrial State (1966) examines the role of technology, technocrats, and government within the modern economic system. 


———, The Affluent Society,(1958) examines the way in which the power structures within the economic system develop and counterbalance each other. 


———, The Great Crash of 1929 (1955) is a rather short, very well written history of the stock market crash of 1929 and its aftermath.


Garcia, Gillian, Carl-Johan Lindgren, and Matthew I. Saal, Bank Soundness and Macroeconomic Policy (1996) provides a comprehensive analysis of the kinds of problems faced by financial regulators throughout the world and the kinds of regulatory policies that are essential for effective regulation of the financial system.  It is astounding how the Bush Administration either ignored or was completely oblivious to the principles explained in this book. 


Gasparino, Charles, The Sellout: How Three Decades of Wall Street Greed and Government Mismanagement Destroyed the Global Financial System (2009) is a somewhat uneven account of the of the history of the financial system over the past thirty years in the sense that his grasp of basic economics in some areas is lacking (he sees the FDIC as bailing out banks and the GSEs as guaranteeing mortgages, which indicates a fundamental misunderstanding of these institutions).  Other than that Gasparino's history of this period is quite good.  It is fairly comprehensive, objective, and surprisingly, for the most part, non-ideological.   


Gelinas, Nicole, After the Fall: Saving Capitalism from Wall Street and Washington (2009) provides a concise statement of the kinds of regulations that are necessary to avoid future financial crises.  Specifically, she argues that the principles of regulation needed today are the same as those put in place in the 1930s which allowed us to avoid financial crises for fifty odd years until they were dismantled beginning in the 1970s.  These principles include limiting speculative bowering by imposing margin/capital requirements, requiring full exposure on the part of financial intuitions, and circumscribing reckless exposure to risk on the part of these institutions. 


Gorton, Gary B., Misunderstanding Financial Crises: Why We Don't See Them (2015) provides a rather interesting history of financial crises in the United Sates and how they have changed as a result of institutional changes in the financial system. Its only drawback is its bias toward financial institutions in that it only considers an option between bailing out the banks in a crisis or allowing the system to collapse and fails to consider the possibility of nationalizing them or putting them into receivership in the way the FDIC has worked since its inception. It also downplays the importance of leverage in exacerbating financial crises in a contradictory way.


Graeber, David, Debt: The First 5,000 Years (2010) is a fascinating history of debt, its relationship to money, and the role it has played throughout history.  This is a very important book.


Greider, William,  Secrets of the Temple: How the Federal Reserve Runs the Country (1987) chronicles the history of the Federal Reserve and highlights its decision-making processes. 


Harrington, Michael, The Other America: Poverty in the United States (1962) examined poverty in the United States.


Hartmann, Thom, Cracking the Code: How to Win Hearts, Change Minds, and Restore America's Original Vision (2008) provides a very well written nonacademic explanation of the framing mechanism.


———, Screwed: The Undeclared War Against the Middle Class - And What We Can Do about It  (2007) discusses some of the consequences of the rise of free market capitalism in the United States over the past forty years. 


Harvey, David, A Brief History of Neoliberalism (2005) discusses the hypocrisy endemic in the Free Market Movement in terms of what is called Neo-Conservatism in the United States and Neoliberalism in the rest of the world.  This book documents the way in which the policies of free market ideologues when implemented in the name of freedom and economic prosperity for all have lead to freedom and economic prosperity for the few and desperation for most everyone else.


Hayek, Friedrich von, The Road to Serfdom (1944) has proved to be one of the seminal documents of the Free Market Movement.  It provides the basis for the argument that government intervention in markets leads to totalitarian socialism.  A Reader’s Digest condensed version of this book is available on line.


Haywood, William, Autobiography of "Big Bill," Haywood (1966) tells the life story of Big Bill Haywood and his involvement in the labor movement in founding the Western Federation of Miners and the International Workers of the World during the latter half of the nineteenth century.


Heilbroner, Robert, The Worldly Philosophers: The Lives, Times And Ideas Of The Great Economic Thinkers (1955-1999) is the place to start.  This book provides a history of economic thought throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and has gone through seven additions.  


Henriques, Diana B., The White Sharks of Wall Street: Thomas Mellon Evans and the Original Corporate Raiders (2000) examines the beginnings of the hostile takeover and leverage buyout craze leading up to the 1980s.


Hobson, John A, Imperialism: A Study by J. A. Hobson (1965) (eBook of original 1902 version) is the classic study of 19th century imperialism. Many parallels can be drawn between Hobson's analysis imperialism in the latter half of the 19th century with the globalization phenomenon we have experienced since World War II.


Huntington, James B., Work's New Age: The End of Full Employment and What It Means to You (2011) examines the problems automation creates in maintaining full employment in today's world.


Isikoff, Michael and David Corn, Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War (2006) documents the way in which the Bush Administration distorted available intelligence in order to justify their invasion of Iraq.


Johnson, Haynes, The Age of Anxiety: McCarthyism to Terrorism (2006) shows the similarities between the tactics used in the McCarthy Era and those used by the Rightwing Propaganda Machine today.


Johnson, Simon and James Kwak, White House Burning: The Founding Fathers, Our National Debt, and Why it Matters to You (2012) examines the his history of the federal debt and explains the fundamental choices we are faced with today in dealing with our federal deficit/debt problem.


———, 13 Bankers: The Wall Street Takeover and the Next Financial Meltdown (2010) compares the way financial crises are dealt with in third world countries and how we dealt with the crisis of 2008.


Jones, Mary Harris and Mary Field (editor) , The Autobiography of Mother Jones (1996) tells the life story of Mother Jones and her involvement in the labor movement during the latter half of the nineteenth century.


Josephson, Matthew, The Robber Barons (1934) is, of course, the classic work describing the excesses of free market capitalism in the latter half of the nineteenth century.

Kennedy, David M., Freedom from Fear: The American People in Depression and War, 1929-1945 (1999) provides an in depth account of the ways in which the Great Depression and World War II changed the American society from 1929 through 1945. 


Keynes, John M., The General Theory of Money, Interest, and Prices (1936) (Electronic Edition) is the classic work on the economics of depressions.


Kindleberger, Charles P. The World in Depression, 1929-1939: Revised and Enlarged Edition (History of the World Economy in the Twentieth Century) (1986) is a comprehensive examination of the Great Depression from the perspective of how it reverberated throughout the world. 


———, and Robert Aliber, Manias, Panics, and Crashes: A History of Financial Crises (2005) provides an update to MacKay's tome and is much easier to read.


Kirk, Russell, The Conservative Mind: From Burke to Eliot (1953-1985) explains the conservative movement in the United States and England from the eighteenth century through the mid 1980s in terms of 1) an abiding faith in Natural Law as determined by a Devine Providence, 2) the superiority of intuition, predigests, and tradition over the scientific method in the search for meaning and truth, and 3) the belief that ideas are more important than facts in this regard.  Unfortunately, Kirk fails to explain how a movement which he shows to have fought the spread of Free Market Capitalism and Democracy for over one hundred and fifty years has managed to become the unquestioning, fanatical champions of these two institutions in today's world. 


Klein, Naomi, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism (2007) is probably the most shocking book I have ever read.  It explains the role free market ideologues have played in international finance over the past forty years, and documents the disastrous consequences of their policies throughout Latin America, Eastern Europe, Indonesia, Iraq, and South Africa.


Kleinbard, Edward D., We Are Better Than This: How Government Should Spend Our Money (2015) explains the justification and need for government expenditures and taxes.


Komlos, John, Foundations of Real World Economics: What Every Economics Student Needs to Know (2019) provides a devastating critique of mainstreamed economics that is a must read for any undergraduate economics major or graduate student.  It would also make an excelent textbook for a course in political or sociological economics.


Krugman, Paul, The Great Unraveling: Losing Our Way in the New Century (2009) chronicles the economic misdeeds of the Bush Administration .


——— The Return of Depression Economics and the Crisis of 2008 (2009) examines the historical context in which the current financial crisis occurred and the underlying economics that brought this crisis about. 


——— The Conscience of a Liberal (2007) discusses the way in which the Rightwing Propaganda machine is organized and the economic effects of this take over of the Republican Party on our society. 


——— Peddling Prosperity: Economic Sense and Nonsense in an Age of Diminished Expectations (1995) examines the economic sense and nonsense generated by the Rightwing Propaganda Machine.


Kuhn, Thomas, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962) presents, what was at the time Kuhn published this book, an iconoclastic explanation of the way in which scientific truth changes over time. 


Kuo, David, Tempting Faith: An Inside Story of Political Seduction (2006) discusses the hypocrisy with which free market ideologues have used the Christian Right for their political and economic ends.  


Kuttner, Robert, The Squandering of America: How the Failure of Our Politics Undermines Our Prosperity (2008) is a sequel to his Everything for Sale that examines the role the deregulation of economic behavior has played in undermining democratic institutions.  He shows how giving lip service to the Utopian Capitalist's ideals has led to the squandering of America's economic resources and the concentration a larger and larger portion of our wealth and income in the hands of fewer and fewer people, and how this concentration of wealth and power has undermined the wellbeing of the vast majority of Americans. 


———, Everything for Sale: The Virtues and Limits of Markets (1999) provides a devastating critique of the economic foundations of the free market ideology.  It is one of the best, and most important books on the discipline of economics I have read.  Anyone who considers herself an economist, or who has even a passing interest in the discipline of economics should read this book.  Only the most ardent true believer in the free market ideology can fail to grasp its significance. 


Lakoff, George, The Political Mind: Why You Can't Understand 21st-Century American Politics with an 18th-Century Brain (2008) explains the mechanism by which the Rightwing Propaganda Machine frames the political debate in our country to divert the debate from substantive issues to non-substantive issues within the context of the cognitive sciences.


———, Whose Freedom?: The Battle Over America's Most Important Idea (2006) explains the mechanism by which the Rightwing Propaganda Machine frames the fundamental concept of freedom to engender support for their agenda.


———, Don't Think of an Elephant: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate--The Essential Guide for Progressives (2004) provides a nonacademic explanation of the framing mechanism of the Cognitive sciences.


Lansley, Stewart, The Cost of Inequality: Why Economic Equality is Essential for Recovery (2012) examines the effects of inequality on the British economy with comparisons with the United States.  


Levin, Carl and Tom Coburn, Wall Street and the Financial Crisis: Anatomy of a Financial Collapse (2011) provides both a comprehensive overview of the financial crisis and a detailed analysis of some of the major actors that helped to bring on this crisis. 


Levitt, Arthur, Take on the Street: How to Fight for Your Financial Future (2002) examines the regulatory issues at the SEC during Levitt's tenure as Chairman of the SEC from 1993 through 2000. 


Lewis, Michael, Liar's Poker: Rising Through the Wreckage on Wall Street (1989) examines the effects of deregulation during the 80s on the behavior of the financial sector as it led to the savings and loan crisis in the late 80s.  


———, The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine (2011) chronicles the events leading up to the Crash of 2008 through the eyes of a number of investors who saw it coming and shorted the market to make money off the crash. 


———, The Fifth Risk: Undoing Democracy (2019) explains the essential nature of the federal government and chronicles the nature of the Trump transition and administration. 


Lindert, Peter H., Growing Public: Social Spending and Economic Growth Since the Eighteenth Century Volume 1 and Volume 2 (2005) provides a compelling history and analysis of the evolution of social welfare/transfer systems over the past three-hundred years.  Volume 2 examines the statically analysis on which Lindert's conclusions are based.  


Lowenstein, Roger, The End of Wall Street (2010) examines the housing bubble from its inception through the crash of 2008. 


———, Origins of the Crash: The Great Bubble and Its Undoing (2004) examines the effects of deregulation on the dotcom and telecom bubbles during the 1990s and early 2000s. 


———, When Genius Failed: The Rise and Fall of Long-Term Capital Management  (2002) examines the effects of deregulation during the collapse of  the Long-Term Capital Management hedge fund and the way in which it threatened to take down the entire financial system.


Lowndes, Joseph E., From the New Deal to the New Right: Race and the Southern Origins of Modern Conservatism (2009) examines the mechanisms by which southern conservatives took over the Republican party.


Lux, Michael , The Progressive Revolution: How the Best in America Came to Be (2009) examines the history of the Progressive movement in the United States.


Mayer, Jane, The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How The War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals (2008) documents the way in which the free market ideologues of the Bush Administration subverted the American government into adopting a policy of torturing people to serve their ends.  It is very explicit in its discussion of the kinds of torture techniques used, the extent to which these techniques were used, and on whom these techniques were used.  I do not recommend that everyone read this book.  It is very upsetting.


MacKay, Charles, Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds (1841) is, of course, a classic tome on the subject of economic bubbles and other kinds of mass delusions.  Unfortunately, it is rather dry reading and not nearly as fun as its title suggests. 


Madrick, Jeff, Seven Bad Ideas: How Mainstream Economists Have Damaged America and the World (2014) examines how simplistic interpretations of basic economic principles in the face of ideological blindness leads to economic catastrophe.


Mian, Atif and Amir Sufi, House of Debt: How They (and You) Caused the Great Recession, and How We Can Prevent It From Happening Again (2014) is an iconoclastic work that systematically refutes the fundamental beliefs of the kind of macroeconomic theory that led to the Great Recession. This is a very important book that promises to have a dramatic effect on the way economists, especially the younger generation, view macro economy going forward.


Meltzer, Allan H., A History of the Federal Reserve, Volume 1: 1913-1951 (2003) examines the history of central banking and of the Federal Reserve through 1951.


Miller, T. Christian, Blood Money: Wasted Billions, Lost Lives, and Corporate Greed in Iraq (2006) documents the conflicts of interests and the huge fortunes that were made through political patronage in Iraq.  


Minsky, Hyman P., Stabilizing an Unstable Economy (1986/2008) extends Keynes and Fisher's explanations of the Great Depression and explains how economic and psychological forces in the financial sector has a destabilizing effect on the economy in a capitalistic system. It is one of the most underrated books, until recently, in economics.


Mises, Ludwig von, Human Action: A Treatise on Economics (1949) is also a seminal document of the Free Market Movement.  This tome provides the “praxeological” arguments for the notion that the underlying assumptions of the free market ideology are universal truths and explains why all that is good in the world comes from free markets and everything that is bad comes from interfering with free markets.  This book is available on line.


Morris, Charles R., The Two Trillion Dollar Meltdown: Easy Money, High Rollers, and the Great Credit Crash  (March 2008) explains the housing bubble and its bursting in 2007 and forecasted the crash of 2008 six months before it happened.  Morris explained in detail why the coming crash was inevitable.  


———, Money, Greed, and Risk: Why Financial Crises and Crashes Happen (1999) examines both the history and the economics of financial crises and evaluates the inadequacy and the importance of regulation in moderating these crises. 


Musgrave, Richard, The Theory of Public Finance: A Study in Public Economy (1959) is a classic work on the functions of government in the economic system.


Nader, Ralph, Unsafe At Any Speed The Designed-in Dangers of the American Automobile (1965) chronologies the safety problems in the American automobile industry.


Orwell, George, 1984 Nineteen eighty four (1948) seems to provide both a warning and a guide to the free market movement: A warning as to the evils of totalitarian socialism, and a guide as to how to rule and control public opinion in a free market society. 


Palley, Thomas I., The Economic Crisis: Notes From the Underground (2012) examines the causes of the economic crisis and the failure of the economics profession to foresee and explain it. 


Patterson, Scott, The Quants: How a New Breed of Math Whizzes Conquered Wall Street and Nearly Destroyed It (2010) explores the role of hedge funds, quantitative models, and the belief in self-adjusting free markets in the meltdown of the economic system from 2007 through 2008. Provides some insight into the way electronic trading works in the global economy.


Perino, Michael, The Hellhound of Wall Street: How Ferdinand Pecora's Investigation of the Great Crash Forever Changed American Finance (2010) explains the importance of the Pecora Hearings in bringing about the financial regulation of the 1930s. 


Phillips, Kevin P., Bad Money: Reckless Finance, Failed Politics, and the Global Crisis of American Capitalism (2008) provides a penetrating analysis of the way in which the rise of speculative finance combined with the geopolitics of oil and the failure of domestic politics in the United States to meet the challenge of state capitalism in the developing world led to the economic crisis with which we are faced.  


———, Wealth and Democracy: A Political History of the American Rich  (2002) provides an encyclopedic examination of the rise and fall of the Spanish, Dutch, and British empires and the striking similarities with the development of the United States' empire over the past 200 years. 


———, The Emerging Republican Majority (1969) provides a comprehensive analysis of the changes in the voting trends through the 1968 election that eventually led to the Republican majority in the country. 


Polanyi, Karl, The Great Transformation (1944) provides a critical view of the fundamental assumptions that underlie the Utopian Capitalist’s view of reality.  The uniqueness of this book and its insight into the human condition makes it one of the most important, if not the single most important contribution to this debate.  Unfortunately, it has received very little recognition within the discipline of economics. 


Rajan, Raghuram G., Fault Lines: How Hidden Fractures Still Threaten the World Economy (2010) I a very disappointing book.  While it contains some understanding of the current crisis, it contains innumerable ideological clichιs and indicates a fundamental misunderstanding of the role government housing played in this crisis.


——— and Luigi Zingales, Saving Capitalism From the Capitalists: Unleashing the Power of Financial Markets to Create Wealth and Spread Opportunity (2003) argues for the need to regulate the financial markets. 


Rand, Ayn, Atlas Shrugged (1959) concludes with the utopian dream of the Utopian Capitalists—a world without government where we all just get along. 


Reich, Robert, Aftershock: The Next Economy and America's Future (2010) examines the consequences of the current crisis and argues that the long run effect of this crisis is going to be sustained unemployment in the absence of a redistribution of income.


Reinhart, Carmen M. and Kenneth S. Rogoff, This Time is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly (2009) examines eight centuries of financial crises and shows how the crises arise from the same kinds of speculative behavior and are imminently predictable.


Ricks, Thomas E., Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq, 2003 to 2005 (2006) examines the way in which the ideological biases in the Bush Administration have led to the fiasco in Iraq.  At the same time I was terribly impressed by the integrity of the American military in the picture that is painted by Ricks, particularly as it relates to the loyalty of the military to the Constitution and the requirement of civilian control.  This is a very good book for anyone interested in military history and who takes pride in our military.


 Rodrik, Dani, The Globalization Paradox: Democracy and the Future of the World Economy  (2011) explains the inherent conflict between globalization, national sovereignty and democratic politics.


———, Has Globalization Gone Too Far? (1997) examines who loses and who gains from globalization and explains how globalization leads to economic and social instability. 


Roubini, Nouriel and Stephen Mihm, Crisis Economics: A Crash Course in the Future of America (2010) provides one of the best analyses of how financial crises come into being, particularly the crisis of 2007-2008, and of the nature of the problems the current crisis is going to cause going forward. 


Sachs, Jeffrey D., Common Wealth: Economics for a Crowded Planet (2008) provides a sobering view of the economic situation in the world today and not only explains the need for governmental intervention to deal with our economic problems, but the need for international cooperation among governments to solve these problems. 


Sanger, David E., The Inheritance: The World Obama Confronts and the Challenges to American Power (2009) examines the problems created by the Iraq war and the economic collapse with regard to American influence through out the world.


Scahill, Jeremy, Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army (2007) examines the corruption involved in privatizing the military functions of government. 


Schlefer, Jonathan, The Assumptions Economists Make (2012) provides a comprehensive overview of the history of economic thought as this history relates to modern divisions within the discipline of economic today.  It is a must read for anyone who wishes to understand the discipline.


Schumpeter, Joseph A. Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy (1942) is a classic work that undertakes a detailed examination of the fundamental issues surrounding capitalism, socialism, and democracy.


Shirer, William L., The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany is the classic work on the history of Hitler and his rise to power in Germany.


Sirota, David, Hostile Takeover: How Big Money and Corruption Conquered Our Government--And How We Take It Back (2007) examines how the corporate takeover of our government has led to corruption in our everyday lives.


Skidelsky, Robert, Keynes: The Return of the Master (2012) discusses the resurgence of Keynesian Economics and the Economics of Keynes since the Crash of 2008.


———, Maynard Keynes 1883-1946: Economist, Philosopher, Statesman, New York: Penguin Books, 2003.


Smith, Adam, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (1776) is, of course, a classic in the true sense that it is a book everyone knows but no one has read.  I know of no other book that has been used so often to create a false air of authority save the Bible and, perhaps, the Koran. 


Smith, Yves, ECONned: How Unenlightened Self Interest Undermined Democracy and Corrupted Capitalism (2010) examines the role played by economics in the financial the 2008 financial crisis and provides a biting criticism of economic dogma.


Sorkin, Andrew Ross, Too Big to Fail: The Inside Story of How Wall Street and Washington Fought to Save the Financial System---and Themselves (2009) examines the actions of Secretary of Treasury Paulson, New York Fed Chairman Geithner, and the various Wall Street players as they attempted to stabilize the financial system from the fall of Bear Sterns through the passage of the TARP program.


Stewart, James B., Den of Thieves (1992) examines the hostile takeover, leverage buyout junk bond craze in the 1980s.


Stiglitz, Joseph E., The Great Divide: Unequal Societies and What We Can Do About Them (2015) examines the role of government policy in creating economic inequality.


———, The Price of Inequality: How Today's Divided Society Endangers Our Future (2012) examines the way in which the increase in the concentration of income leads to economic instability. 


———, Freefall: America, Free Markets, and the Sinking of the World Economy (2010) examines of the economics of financial crisis and evaluates the inadequacy and inequity of the policy responses to this crisis. 


———, The Roaring Nineties: A New History of the World's Most Prosperous Decade (2003)  examines the economic deregulatory policies of the Clinton Administration and how they led to the dotcom and telecom bubbles.  


———, Globalization and Its Discontents (2002) examines the ideological conflict between the International Monetary Fund and World Bank in dealing with financial crises during the 1990s. 


Tabb, William K., The Long Default: New York City and the Urban Fiscal Crisis (1982) examines the effects of the policies of free market ideologues in managing New York City’s financial crisis during the 1970s.


Taleb, Nassim Nicholas, The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable (2007)  examines the role of market complexity and uncertainty in risk management and economic instability.  


Temin, Peter, and David Vines, Keynes: Useful Economics for the World Economy (2014) traces the development of Keynes’s theory of the relationship between domestic and international economics from The Economic Consequences of the Peace through the Bretton Woods Agreement. It provides a rather good primer on the relationship between domestic and international economics.


Tett, Gillian, Fool's Gold: How the Bold Dream of a Small Tribe at J.P. Morgan Was Corrupted by Wall Street Greed and Unleashed a Catastrophe (2009) tells the story of the role played by J.P. Morgan in creating Credit Default Swaps and how these and other derivatives brought on the financial crisis.


Veblen, Thorstein, The Theory of the Leisure Class (1900) (PDF) is, without question, the most entertaining of all the books written on the excesses of free market capitalism. 


———, The Theory of Business Enterprise (1904) (PDF) is probably the first objective account of nineteenth century business in the United States.


United States Senate, Stock Exchange Practices, Report  of the Committee on Banking and Currency (1934), also known as The Pecora Report, documents and elaborates on the financial abuses that occurred during the 1920s and early1930s that led to the financial regulatory system put in place during the 1930s.


Weitzman, Hal, Latin Lessons: How South America Stopped Listening to the United States and Started Prospering (2012) examines the effect of the Washington Consensus on Latin America and the reaction to this consensus during the first decade of the new millennium. 


Wessel, David, In Fed We Trust: Ben Bernanke's War on the Great Panic (2009) examines the actions of Chairman Bernanke's in his attempt to stabilize the financial system throughout the financial crisis from its beginning. 


Westen, Drew, The Political Brain: The Role of Emotion in Deciding the Fate of the Nation (2007) is one of the most important books I have ever read.  It explains the importance of emotional appeals in the basic psychology of the Rightwing Propaganda Machine and how this machine has used these appeals to shift the mind of the body politic to the right.  More important, it explains why this shift in the mind of the body politic is the fault of the Democratic Party.


Wheelan, Charles, Naked Economics: Undressing the Dismal Science (2010) provides a lucid, though uncritical, exposition of many basic concepts in economics but seems to be at a loss in its attempt to explain the economic catastrophe we are in the midst of today. 


White, Mel, Religion Gone Bad: The Hidden Dangers of the Christian Right (2006) examines the role the religious right in the Republican Party. 


Zakaria, Fareed, The Post-American World (2009) examines the problems created by the Iraq war and the economic collapse with regard to American influence through out the world.


Zinn, Howard, A People's History of the United States (2003) provides an examination of US history from the prospective of ordinary people as opposed to from the prospective of the political and economic elites.