Thursday, July 24, 2014

Two very promising books

I bought and started reading two very promising books, one on the economics of Scottish independence, and another one on the politics of banking crises. The first is the essay written by Gavin McCrone, "Scottish Independence. Weighing Up the Economics" according to many the most objective and neutral analysis of the economic aspects of the independence debate in Scotland. I couldn't resist the temptation of reading the conclusions: they are basically pro-federalist, that is, no to "independence," no to "devolution max," but yes to "devolution plus." More details when I finish reading the rest of the book (with chapters on fiscal issues, banking crises, energy and others). The other book I bought and started reading is the one on the history, economics and politics of banking regulation and banking crises, by Calomiris and Haber "Fragile by Design. The Political Origins of Banking Crises and Scarce Credit." The book is basically in the tradition of Douglas North and the New Institutional Economics, and it argues that banking institutions are the result of political forces and lobbying coalitions that manage to entrench arrangements that are not necessarily efficient or in the common good. A minority of countries (including Canada) have produced institutions that avoid banking crises, but most countries (including the United States) have not been able to do so. The book seems to tackle head on the tensions between democracy, populism and sound regulation. I am sure that I will not agree with everything, because at the end of the book they confess their admiration for two personalities: Alexander Hamilton (I have nothing against him) and Margaret Thatcher.

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