The relationship between government, virtue, and wealth has held a special fascination since Aristotle, and the importance of each frames policy debates today in both developed and developing countries. While it’s clear that low-quality government institutions have tremendous negative effects on the health and wealth of societies, the criteria for good governance remain far from clear.
In this pathbreaking book, leading political scientist Bo Rothstein provides a theoretical foundation for empirical analysis on the connection between the quality of government and important economic, political, and social outcomes. Focusing on the effects of government policies, he argues that unpredictable actions constitute a severe impediment to economic growth and development—and that a basic characteristic of quality government is impartiality in the exercise of power. This is borne out by cross-sectional analyses, experimental studies, and in-depth historical investigations. Timely and topical, The Quality of Government tackles such issues as political legitimacy, social capital, and corruption.
Quantifying Systemic Risk
Edited by Joseph G. Haubrich and Andrew W. Lo University of Chicago Press, 2013 Library of Congress HG106.Q36 2012 | Dewey Decimal 338.5
In the aftermath of the recent financial crisis, the federal government has pursued significant regulatory reforms, including proposals to measure and monitor systemic risk. However, there is much debate about how this might be accomplished quantitatively and objectively—or whether this is even possible. A key issue is determining the appropriate trade-offs between risk and reward from a policy and social welfare perspective given the potential negative impact of crises.
One of the first books to address the challenges of measuring statistical risk from a system-wide persepective, Quantifying Systemic Risk looks at the means of measuring systemic risk and explores alternative approaches. Among the topics discussed are the challenges of tying regulations to specific quantitative measures, the effects of learning and adaptation on the evolution of the market, and the distinction between the shocks that start a crisis and the mechanisms that enable it to grow.
Quasi Rational Economics
Richard H. Thaler Russell Sage Foundation, 1991 Library of Congress HB171.T47 1991 | Dewey Decimal 330
Standard economics theory is built on the assumption that human beings act rationally in their own self interest. But if rationality is such a reliable factor, why do economic models so often fail to predict market behavior accurately? According to Richard Thaler, the shortcomings of the standard approach arise from its failure to take into account systematic mental biases that color all human judgments and decisions.
With the decline in the size of our industrial work force and the rise of the service occupations, the professions today are prominent models for a singular kind of social position. The professions and "professionalism" seem to offer an escape from vexing supervision at work as well as from some of the depersonalization and uncertainty of markets and bureaucracies. In taking account of our hunger for professional status and privileges, Samuel Haber presents the first synthetic history of major professions in America. His account emphasizes the substance of each profession's work experience, told from the vantage point of the doctors, lawyers, ministers, and their emulators whose work gave them a high sense of purpose and a durable sense of community.
Contrary to those who regard the professions as exemplary and up-to-date specimens of social modernization or economic monopoly, Haber argues that they bring both preindustrial and predemocratic ideals and standards into our modern world. He proposes that the values embedded in the professions—authority and honor, fused with duty and responsibility—have their origins in the class position and occupational prescriptions of eighteenth-century English gentlemen. Such an argument has implications for the understanding of American society; it underscores the cumulative and variegated nature of our culture and suggests the drawbacks of trying to describe society as a system. It also accords with Haber's endeavor to write a history that rescues for description and analysis mixed motives, composite conditions, and persons and parties acting upon contradictory explanatory schemes.
Haber traces the cultural evolution of the professions through three stages—establishment (1750-1830), disestablishment (1830-1880), and reestablishment (1880-1900). He shows that when the gentlemanly class declined in the United States, the professions maintained status even in somewhat hostile settings. The professions thus came to be seen as a middle way between the pursuits of laborers and those of capitalists. Massive in scale and ambition, this book will have a formidable impact among scholars newly attuned to the history of American middle-class culture.
Quest for Power
Stephen R. Halsey Harvard University Press, 2015 Library of Congress DS761.2.H354 2015 | Dewey Decimal 951.03
China’s late-imperial history has been framed as a long coda of decline, played out during the Qing dynasty. Reappraising this narrative, Stephen Halsey traces the origins of China’s current great-power status to this so-called decadent era, when threats of war with European and Japanese empirestriggered innovative state-building and statecraft.