Recommended Reading

We’ve put together a “hot” list of books by some of the most amazing voices in Macroeconomics, the Progressive Movement, academia, law and business.  All of these authors are friends of our organization and we’re grateful for their voices.  You’ve probably met many of these folks on our podcasts or livestreams – we hope you’ll enjoy finding more of their work here on our Bookshelf!

The Deficit Myth

by Stephanie Kelton

Vice-president Dick Cheney famously boasted, “Reagan proved deficits don’t matter.” He was wrong.

Deficits do matter, but not the way we’ve been taught to believe. We’ve been told that China is our banker and that Social Security and Medicare are pushing us into crisis. We’re told the U.S. could end up like Greece and that deficits will burden future generations. These are all myths.

Deficits can be used for good or evil. They can enrich a small segment of the population, driving income and wealth inequality to new heights, while leaving millions behind. They can fund unjust wars that destabilize the world and cost millions their lives. Or they can be used to sustain life and build a more just economy that works for the many and not just the few.

Reclaiming the State

by William Mitchell & Thomas Fazi

Trump. Brexit. The alt-right. It’s increasingly apparent that old political notions—believed to be consigned to the dustbin of history—are now resurrected. The neonationalist, anti-globalization, and anti-establishment attitude engulfing the United States and United Kingdom hints suspiciously at a yearning for national sovereignty. Reclaiming the State offers an urgent and prescient political analysis and economic program for the Left who are strategizing for these uncertain times.

Many of our assumptions—about ideology, democracy, trade, and globalization—are being thrown into doubt, deposed by populism, nationalism, and racism. In response to these challenging times, economist Bill Mitchell and political theorist Thomas Fazi propose a reconceptualization of the sovereign state as a vehicle for change. They offer a progressive view of sovereignty based not on the demonization of the other, but as a way to bring the economy back under democratic control. With nationalism gaining support across the United States with each passing week, Reclaiaming the State provides innovative ideas to mobilize and reenergize a tired, divided Left.

Soft Currency Economics II

by Warren Mosler

Soft Currency Economics is the little book that could logically, in both real and nominal terms, legitimately challenge many of the core held beliefs of the mainstream classical and neo-classical schools of economics. It is a corner stone publication for the new, widely popular fresh approach to economics that has come to be called Modern Monetary Theory (MMT). It explains with actual facts, not theory, and with non-technical language, the true operational realities of our monetary system (central banks and private banks).

The author, a 40 year ‘insider’ in monetary operations, and a very successful fixed income hedge fund manager, wrote this book in 1993 after witnessing the markets drastically discount sovereign debt on the errant belief that market forces could force nations into default on debt payable in their own currency, and that austerity was the only solution. This was contrary to the author’s understanding of what are called fiat currencies, where governments always have the ability to meet all obligations in a timely manner.

As a result of this experience, the author took up the task of educating government officials on how the monetary system operated with the hope that with this understanding they would be free to ensure that the government acted for the public purpose and achieved their stated goals of full employment and price stability. Initially published in 1993, this book will utterly convince many readers that what they thought they knew about monetary policy is wrong.

The 7 Deadly Innocent Frauds of Economic Policy

by Warren Mosler

The term “innocent fraud” was introduced by Professor John Kenneth Galbraith in his last book, The Economics of Innocent Fraud, which he wrote at the age of ninety-four in 2004, just two years before he died. Professor Galbraith coined the term to describe a variety of incorrect assumptions embraced by mainstream economists, the media, and most of all, politicians.

The presumption of innocence, yet another example of Galbraith’s elegant and biting wit, implies those perpetuating the fraud are not only wrong, but also not clever enough to understand what they are actually doing. And any claim of prior understanding becomes an admission of deliberate fraud—an unthinkable self-incrimination.

Modern Money Theory: A Primer on Macroeconomics for Sovereign Monetary Systems

by L. Randall Wray

In a challenge to conventional views on modern monetary and fiscal policy, this book presents a coherent analysis of how money is created, how it functions in global exchange rate regimes, and how the mystification of the nature of money has constrained governments, and prevented states from acting in the public interest.

Why Minsky Matters

by L. Randall Wray

Perhaps no economist was more vindicated by the global financial crisis than Hyman P. Minsky (1919–96). Although a handful of economists raised alarms as early as 2000, Minsky’s warnings began a half-century earlier, with writings that set out a compelling theory of financial instability. Yet even today he remains largely outside mainstream economics; few people have a good grasp of his writings, and fewer still understand their full importance. Why Minsky Matters makes the maverick economist’s critically valuable insights accessible to general readers for the first time. L. Randall Wray shows that by understanding Minsky we will not only see the next crisis coming but we might be able to act quickly enough to prevent it.

As Wray explains, Minsky’s most important idea is that “stability is destabilizing”: to the degree that the economy achieves what looks to be robust and stable growth, it is setting up the conditions in which a crash becomes ever more likely. Before the financial crisis, mainstream economists pointed to much evidence that the economy was more stable, but their predictions were completely wrong because they disregarded Minsky’s insight. Wray also introduces Minsky’s significant work on money and banking, poverty and unemployment, and the evolution of capitalism, as well as his proposals for reforming the financial system and promoting economic stability.

A much-needed introduction to an economist whose ideas are more relevant than ever, Why Minsky Matters is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand why economic crises are becoming more frequent and severe―and what we can do about it.

Macroeconomics

by William Mitchell, L. Randall Wray, Martin Watts

This groundbreaking new core textbook encourages students to take a more critical approach to the prevalent assumptions around the subject of macroeconomics, by comparing and contrasting heterodox and orthodox approaches to theory and policy. The first such textbook to develop a heterodox model from the ground up, it is based on the principles of Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) as derived from the theories of Keynes, Kalecki, Veblen, Marx, and Minsky, amongst others. The internationally-respected author team offer appropriate fiscal and monetary policy recommendations, explaining how the poor economic performance of most of the wealthy capitalist countries over recent decades could have been avoided, and delivering a well-reasoned practical and philosophical argument for the heterodox MMT approach being advocated.

The book is suitable for both introductory and intermediate courses, offering a thorough overview of the basics, while covering everything needed for more advanced courses. Issues are explained conceptually, with the more technical, mathematical material in chapter appendices, offering greater flexibility of lecturer use.

The Case for a Job Guarantee

by Pavlina R. Tcherneva

One of the most enduring ideas in economics is that unemployment is both unavoidable and necessary for the smooth functioning of the economy. This assumption has provided cover for the devastating social and economic costs of job insecurity. It is also false.

In this book, leading expert Pavlina R. Tcherneva challenges us to imagine a world where the phantom of unemployment is banished and anyone who seeks decent, living-wage work can find it – guaranteed. This is the aim of the Job Guarantee proposal: to provide a voluntary employment opportunity in public service to anyone who needs it. Tcherneva enumerates the many advantages of the Job Guarantee over the status quo and proposes a blueprint for its implementation within the wider context of the need for a Green New Deal.

This compact primer is the ultimate guide to the benefits of one of the most transformative public policies being discussed today. It is essential reading for all citizens and activists who are passionate about social justice and building a fairer economy.

Paying Ourselves to Save the Planet

by J. D. Alt

This book explains why the “standard money theory” we insist on applying to the world is incapable of confronting the needs of modern society—most notably, the challenges of the global climate crisis. It then explores how a simple change in perspective transforms the standard theory into “modern money theory” (MMT)—a new perspective enabling us, as a collective society, to pay ourselves whatever it takes to proactively confront the challenges we face. The layman’s explanation of MMT is given twice: first, in an easy to follow narrative format and, second, using 26 new diagrams which bring the explanation to a visualized focus.

The diagrams are available for download in PDF format on this page. They are made available for anyone to use with attribution. It is my intention and hope that interested laymen—for whom MMT has clicked into focus as an essential tool for confronting the needs and challenges of modern society—will use the diagrams to develop local seminars and discussion groups. Implementing the opportunities MMT provides us will first require a wide-scale, grass-roots understanding and acceptance of its perspective.

From Here to Equality: Reparations for Black Americans in the Twenty-First Century

by William A. Darity and A. Kirsten Mullen

Racism and discrimination have choked economic opportunity for African Americans at nearly every turn. At several historic moments, the trajectory of racial inequality could have been altered dramatically. Perhaps no moment was more opportune than the early days of Reconstruction, when the U.S. government temporarily implemented a major redistribution of land from former slaveholders to the newly emancipated enslaved. But neither Reconstruction nor the New Deal nor the civil rights struggle led to an economically just and fair nation. Today, systematic inequality persists in the form of housing discrimination, unequal education, police brutality, mass incarceration, employment discrimination, and massive wealth and opportunity gaps. Economic data indicates that for every dollar the average white household holds in wealth the average black household possesses a mere ten cents.

In  From Here to Equality, William Darity Jr. and A. Kirsten Mullen confront these injustices head-on and make the most comprehensive case to date for economic reparations for U.S. descendants of slavery. After opening the book with a stark assessment of the intergenerational effects of white supremacy on black economic well-being, Darity and Mullen look to both the past and the present to measure the inequalities borne of slavery. Using innovative methods that link monetary values to historical wrongs, they next assess the literal and figurative costs of justice denied in the 155 years since the end of the Civil War. Finally, Darity and Mullen offer a detailed roadmap for an effective reparations program, including a substantial payment to each documented U.S. black descendant of slavery. Taken individually, any one of the three eras of injustice outlined by Darity and Mullen–slavery, Jim Crow, and modern-day discrimination–makes a powerful case for black reparations. Taken collectively, they are impossible to ignore.

Debunking Economics: The Naked Emperor Dethroned?

by Steve Keen

Debunking Economics exposes what many non-economists may have suspected and a minority of economists have long known: that economic theory is not only unpalatable, but also plain wrong. When the original Debunking was published back in 2001, the market economy seemed invincible, and conventional ‘neoclassical’ economic theory basked in the limelight. Steve Keen argued that economists deserved none of the credit for the economy’s performance, and that ‘the false confidence it has engendered in the stability of the market economy has encouraged policy-makers to dismantle some of the institutions which initially evolved to try to keep its instability within limits’. That instability exploded with the devastating financial crisis of 2007, and now haunts the global economy with the prospect of another Depression. In this radically updated and greatly expanded new edition, Keen builds on his scathing critique of conventional economic theory whilst explaining what mainstream economists cannot: why the crisis occurred, why it is proving to be intractable, and what needs to be done to end it. Essential for anyone who has ever doubted the advice or reasoning of economists, Debunking Economics provides a signpost to a better future.

Economics for Sustainable Prosperity

by Steven Hail

The central argument of this book is that the foundations for sustainable prosperity lie in an approach to economic management based on modern monetary theory and a job guarantee. This approach builds on the work of Keynes, Kalecki, Minsky, Davidson, Godley and other Post- Keynesian economists—as well as research by behavioral economists including Simon, Kahneman and Loewenstein—to explore the role that a permanent, equitable job guarantee could play in building an inclusive, participatory and just society. Orthodox (neoclassical) economics, in its various forms, has failed to deliver sustainable prosperity. An important reason for this failure is its lack of realistic foundations. It misrepresents both human nature and economic institutions, and its use as a frame for the development and assessment of economic policy proposals has had disastrous consequences for social inclusion and the quality of life of millions of people. This book discusses an alternative, more realistic and more useful set of economic foundations, which could deliver the opportunity of a decent quality of life with dignity to all.

Race for Profit

by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor

By the late 1960s and early 1970s, reeling from a wave of urban uprisings, politicians finally worked to end the practice of redlining. Reasoning that the turbulence could be calmed by turning Black city-dwellers into homeowners, they passed the Housing and Urban Development Act of 1968, and set about establishing policies to induce mortgage lenders and the real estate industry to treat Black homebuyers equally. The disaster that ensued revealed that racist exclusion had not been eradicated, but rather transmuted into a new phenomenon of predatory inclusion.

Race for Profit uncovers how exploitative real estate practices continued well after housing discrimination was banned. The same racist structures and individuals remained intact after redlining’s end, and close relationships between regulators and the industry created incentives to ignore improprieties. Meanwhile, new policies meant to encourage low-income homeownership created new methods to exploit Black homeowners. The federal government guaranteed urban mortgages in an attempt to overcome resistance to lending to Black buyers – as if unprofitability, rather than racism, was the cause of housing segregation. Bankers, investors, and real estate agents took advantage of the perverse incentives, targeting the Black women most likely to fail to keep up their home payments and slip into foreclosure, multiplying their profits. As a result, by the end of the 1970s, the nation’s first programs to encourage Black homeownership ended with tens of thousands of foreclosures in Black communities across the country. The push to uplift Black homeownership had descended into a goldmine for realtors and mortgage lenders, and a ready-made cudgel for the champions of deregulation to wield against government intervention of any kind.

Narrating the story of a sea-change in housing policy and its dire impact on African Americans, Race for Profit reveals how the urban core was transformed into a new frontier of cynical extraction.

The Best Way to Rob a Bank Is to Own One: How Corporate Executives and Politicians Looted the S&L Industry

by William K. Black

The catastrophic collapse of companies such as Enron, WorldCom, ImClone, and Tyco left angry investors, employees, reporters, and government investigators demanding to know how the CEOs deceived everyone into believing their companies were spectacularly successful when in fact they were massively insolvent. Why did the nation’s top accounting firms give such companies clean audit reports? Where were the regulators and whistleblowers who should expose fraudulent CEOs before they loot their companies for hundreds of millions of dollars?

In this expert insider’s account of the savings and loan debacle of the 1980s, William Black lays bare the strategies that corrupt CEOs and CFOs—in collusion with those who have regulatory oversight of their industries—use to defraud companies for their personal gain. Recounting the investigations he conducted as Director of Litigation for the Federal Home Loan Bank Board, Black fully reveals how Charles Keating and hundreds of other S&L owners took advantage of a weak regulatory environment to perpetrate accounting fraud on a massive scale. He also authoritatively links the S&L crash to the business failures of the early 2000s, showing how CEOs then and now are using the same tactics to defeat regulatory restraints and commit the same types of destructive fraud.

Black uses the latest advances in criminology and economics to develop a theory of why “control fraud”—looting a company for personal profit—tends to occur in waves that make financial markets deeply inefficient. He also explains how to prevent such waves. Throughout the book, Black drives home the larger point that control fraud is a major, ongoing threat in business that requires active, independent regulators to contain it. His book is a wake-up call for everyone who believes that market forces alone will keep companies and their owners honest.

1000 Castaways: Fundamentals of Economics

by Clint Ballinger

It took over 9,000 years from the earliest human settlements to the dawning of modern states and modern banking systems circa 1500 AD.

It took several more centuries for the gradual appearance of reasonably accurate albeit sporadic descriptions of the role of states and banks in the creation of currencies and their profound roles of capital development and social coordination in both the public and private spheres.

This progress was briefly interrupted by an intellectual decline of Economics into a period of real-world irrelevance (1950-2000). However, led by a handful of pioneering economists, and not yet in classrooms or textbooks, earlier partial theories of the two coordinating systems of the macroeconomy were revived in the 1990s and then, more crucially, consolidated into a unified understanding of how real-world economies actually function. Economic understanding emerged into a Golden Age of which the present generation is in the exciting midst of.

1000 Castaways compresses this 10,000 years of economic development into several years and a society small enough to allow an illuminating overview, yet large enough to feature the institutions essential to modern economies. Centuries of economic thought are distilled for the reader to the essence of how the macroeconomy functions (and malfunctions).

Colored Property: State Policy and White Racial Politics in Suburban America

by David M.P. Freund

Northern whites in the post–World War II era began to support the principle of civil rights, so why did many of them continue to oppose racial integration in their communities? Challenging conventional wisdom about the growth, prosperity, and racial exclusivity of American suburbs, David M. P. Freund argues that previous attempts to answer this question have overlooked a change in the racial thinking of whites and the role of suburban politics in effecting this change. In Colored Property, he shows how federal intervention spurred a dramatic shift in the language and logic of residential exclusion—away from invocations of a mythical racial hierarchy and toward talk of markets, property, and citizenship.

Freund begins his exploration by tracing the emergence of a powerful public-private alliance that facilitated postwar suburban growth across the nation with federal programs that significantly favored whites. Then, showing how this national story played out in metropolitan Detroit, he visits zoning board and city council meetings, details the efforts of neighborhood “property improvement” associations, and reconstructs battles over race and housing to demonstrate how whites learned to view discrimination not as an act of racism but as a legitimate response to the needs of the market. Illuminating government’s powerful yet still-hidden role in the segregation of U.S. cities, Colored Property presents a dramatic new vision of metropolitan growth, segregation, and white identity in modern America.

The Heretic's Guide to Global Finance: Hacking the Future of Money

by Brett Scott

The Heretic’s Guide to Global Finance: Hacking the Future of Money is a friendly guide to taking on the world’s most powerful system. It sets up a framework to illuminate the financial sector based on anthropology, gonzo exploration, and the hacker ethos, and helps the reader develop a diverse DIY toolbox to undertake their own adventures in guerilla finance and activist entrepreneurialism. Part 1 (Exploring) covers the major financial players, concepts and instruments. Part 2 (Jamming) explores innovative forms of financial activism, from disrupting investment into fossil fuels to building your own hedge funds of dissent. Part 3 (Building) showcases the growing alternative finance movement – including peer-to-peer systems, alternative currencies, and co-operative economies – and shows how you can get involved in building a democratic financial system.

Money From Nothing
Or, why we should stop worrying about debt and learn to love the Federal Reserve

by Robert Hockett and Aaron James

A major work of financial theory and practice with immediate relevance to the rebuilding of the economy, and restoring the promise of equality When the government decides to spend money, it simply creates the necessary funds for itself–as if out of thin air. That’s how we pay for interstate highways, post offices, wars, social services, and economic stimulus packages. If it’s that easy to make money . . . can’t we all get more of it? Absolutely. And we should. So argue financial regulation expert Robert Hockett and bestselling philosopher Aaron James in this eye-opening, irreverent, and inspiring exploration of what the dollar really is. And better still, they show how we can build an economy that works for everybody without unwanted taxes and added regulations. In the process, we learn how disingenuous the political rhetoric surrounding inflation can be, how the demonized concept of the deficit is really just another way of tallying our collective national wealth, and how a strong central bank could free us from the abuses of private banking. With broad historical background and ambitious yet practical institutional proposals, Hockett and James offer a new vision of public finance–people’s banking for a people’s economy. Armed with this new outlook, we can even stop worrying debt and learn to love a strong, accountable, and transparent Federal Reserve as a cornerstone of our democracy.

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

by Michelle Alexander

Seldom does a book have the impact of Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow. Since it was first published in 2010, it has been cited in judicial decisions and has been adopted in campus-wide and community-wide reads; it helped inspire the creation of the Marshall Project and the new $100 million Art for Justice Fund; it has been the winner of numerous prizes, including the prestigious NAACP Image Award; and it has spent nearly 250 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list.

Most important of all, it has spawned a whole generation of criminal justice reform activists and organizations motivated by Michelle Alexander’s unforgettable argument that “we have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it.” As the Birmingham News proclaimed, it is “undoubtedly the most important book published in this century about the U.S.”

Now, ten years after it was first published, The New Press is proud to issue a tenth-anniversary edition with a new preface by Michelle Alexander that discusses the impact the book has had and the state of the criminal justice reform movement today.

Little Book of Big Ideas: Economics

by Mathew Forstater, James Rollo (Introduction)

Economic ideas and trends play a crucial yet little-understood role in the development of the world in which we live and are therefore vital to understanding our society today. From mercantilists through Keynesians to modern economic thought, this handbook covers 50 of the greatest minds and 10 core theories. Including Hume, Smith, Marx, and von Mises, succinct biographies reach behind the personalities and reveal the outstanding contribution each has made to this internationally important and pervasive discipline. The essential concepts and themes have been expertly selected and the complex issues clearly explained within a social, political, and cultural context, allowing the rich history of economic thought to be told and the motivations behind its phenomenal global development to be understood.

Racial Taxation: Schools, Segregation, and Taxpayer Citizenship, 1869–1973

by Camille Walsh

In the United States, it is quite common to lay claim to the benefits of society by appealing to “taxpayer citizenship”–the idea that, as taxpayers, we deserve access to certain social services like a public education. Tracing the genealogy of this concept, Camille Walsh shows how tax policy and taxpayer identity were built on the foundations of white supremacy and intertwined with ideas of whiteness. From the origins of unequal public school funding after the Civil War through school desegregation cases from Brown v. Board of Education to San Antonio v. Rodriguez in the 1970s, this study spans over a century of racial injustice, dramatic courtroom clashes, and white supremacist backlash to collective justice claims.

Incorporating letters from everyday individuals as well as the private notes of Supreme Court justices as they deliberated, Walsh reveals how the idea of a “taxpayer” identity contributed to the contemporary crises of public education, racial disparity, and income inequality.

Racial Taxation book cover
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