Beyond Our Means (Magill Book Reviews)
The fact that Americans have been living beyond their means should be no news to anyone who reads the newspapers. This book summarizes the major problems of the capitalist world and shows how any one of them could bring down the house of cards. The federal debt has nearly tripled in the last decade so that the United States has become a debtor nation. The Third World nations are defaulting on their enormous debts to United States banks. Many huge corporations have been hollowed out by borrowing and cannot afford to modernize their facilities to keep up with foreign competition. Small farmers are on the brink of disaster. Cities, streets, highways, bridges, and railroads are badly deteriorated through deferred maintenance. Consumer debt is a shaky tower that keeps growing. Nearly everyone’s job is dependent on someone else spending money he does not have. Yet everyone wants still more. American workers are paid far more than their counterparts in the most advanced foreign nations. Even if they were to accept enormous wage cuts to make American business more competitive, this would have drastic repercussions on their spending and their ability to repay borrowed money.
Alfred L. Malabre, Jr., economics editor and columnist for THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, predicts that the day of reckoning is nearly at hand. He thinks that disaster will strike before the end of Ronald Reagan’s presidency and that the American people will be looking for another Franklin D....
(The entire section is 335 words.)
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Beyond Our Means (Magill's Literary Annual 1988)
Alfred L. Malabre, Jr.’s, new book, Beyond Our Means: How America’s Long Years of Debt, Deficits, and Reckless Borrowing Now Threaten to Overwhelm Us, is an example of the contemporary genre of gloom-and-doom predictions or speculations about the future. In his commentary in Newsweek magazine, environmental scientist S. Fred Singer wrote, “Old-time favorites like famine, war and pestilence now take a back seat to such man-made ecological disasters as nuclear winter and ozone depletion, with fresh catastrophes close behind.” In the economic arena, Malabre’s book must be reviewed, along with Geoffrey Abert’s After the Crash (1979), Ravi Batra’s The Great Depression of 1990 (1985), and Paul E. Erdman’s The Crash of ’79 (1976; updated in 1987 and renamed The Panic of ’89, since the “crash” did not come in 1979, though the author continues to predict it) as an analysis predicting economic collapse. Although part of this gloomily popular approach to economic predictions, of which readers must be skeptical, Beyond Our Means has much to commend it.
First, Malabre’s book is a rather good, nontechnical description of post-World War II economic history. Second, the book briefly describes the major postwar economic systems or theories—Keynesianism, industrial policy, monetarism, and supply-side theory—and demonstrates how none of these can provide a satisfactory explanation...
(The entire section is 2332 words.)
Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 1988)
Barrons. LXVII, May 4, 1987, p. 83.
Booklist. LXXXIII, March 15, 1987, p. 1081.
Fortune. CXV, May 11, 1987, p. 189.
Library Journal. CXII, April 1, 1987, p. 143.
Los Angeles Times Book Review. April 19, 1987, p. 4.
The Nation. CCXLIV, May 2, 1987, p. 584.
The New York Times Book Review. XCII, April 12, 1987, p. 7.
Publishers Weekly. CCXXXI, February 6, 1987, p. 80.
The Wall Street Journal. March 24, 1987, p. 34.
The Washington Post Book World. XVII, March 8, 1987, p. 6.
(The entire section is 57 words.)