The reputation of the financial industry could hardly be worse than it is today in the painful aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis. New York Times best-selling economist Robert Shiller is no apologist for the sins of finance--he is probably the only person to have predicted both the stock market bubble of 2000 and the real estate bubble that led up to the subprime mortgage meltdown. But in this important and timely book, Shiller argues that, rather than condemning finance, we need to reclaim it for the common good. He makes a powerful case for recognizing that finance, far from being a parasite on society, is one of the most powerful tools we have for solving our common problems and increasing the general well-being. We need more financial innovation--not less--and finance should play a larger role in helping society achieve its goals.
Challenging the public and its leaders to rethink finance and its role in society, Shiller argues that finance should be defined not merely as the manipulation of money or the management of risk but as the stewardship of society's assets. He explains how people in financial careers--from CEO, investment manager, and banker to insurer, lawyer, and regulator--can and do manage, protect, and increase these assets. He describes how finance has historically contributed to the good of society through inventions such as insurance, mortgages, savings accounts, and pensions, and argues that we need to envision new ways to rechannel financial creativity to benefit society as a whole.
Ultimately, Shiller shows how society can once again harness the power of finance for the greater good. In a new preface, Shiller addresses recent college graduates, encouraging them to apply their idealism to financial reform.
Robert J. Shiller is the author of Irrational Exuberance and The Subprime Solution, and the coauthor, with George A. Akerlof, of Animal Spirits: How Human Psychology Drives the Economy, and Why It Matters for Global Capitalism (all Princeton). He is the Arthur M. Okun Professor of Economics at Yale University.
"Reading his book is like wandering through an interesting garden. . . . [T]he best passages in this book make a persuasive case for a fresh view of an industry that is too glibly demonized. The most promising way to promote the good society, Shiller says, is not to restrain finance but to release it."--Sebastian Mallaby, New York Times Book Review
"[R]igorous. . . . Shiller presents a helpful taxonomy, and is convincing in his defence of insurers, financial advisers, and (some) bankers. He is good at relating even some of the more obscure and complex trading strategies to real world problems . . ."--Howard Davies, Times Literary Supplement
"Shiller, professor of economics at Yale and author of the best-selling Irrational Exuberance, examines the future of finance in this timely new book. Recognizing the anger of many Americans--as evidenced in part by the rise of the Occupy movement--Shiller suggests that the way to fix our increasingly unequal society is through the 'democratization' and 'humanization' of finance."--PublishersWeekly.com Online Review
"Finance is in need of a little redemption. In his priestly new book, Finance and the Good Society, Mr. Shiller . . . sets out to provide it. He argues convincingly that finance can, should and usually does make the world a better place. . . . As an advocate for the financial system . . . he is wonderfully persuasive because he never plays down the problems. . . . Mr. Shiller reminds us of the profound importance of finance to making our society work."--Robin Harding, Financial Times
"[S]hiller comes across as pragmatic as well as visionary, explaining how much financial capitalism has done for society and how much more it could do if harnessed for the common good."--James Pressley, Bloomberg News
Table of Contents
Other Princeton books authored or coauthored by Robert J. Shiller: