Lawrence Feiner and Richard Melson, both former principals of the Cambridge Forecast Group, have written a sharp challenge to prevailing economic thought. The authors argue that despite the chaos that seems to have enveloped the world economy since the end of the Cold War (as typified in the writings of Francis Fukuyama, Zbigniew Brzezinski, and Daniel Patrick Moynihan), the direction and development of world economic history is, in fact, quite predictable.
Proponents of controversial “New Growth Theories,” Feiner and Melson argue that human capital and knowledge are quantifiable variables that, using mathematical formulae, can be both identified and extrapolated to the future. Once identified, an economic future can be reasonably predicted. Their work leads them to conclude that a post-Cold War economic world will revolve around a rapid shifting of economic priorities, emphasizing the needs and contributions of the developing world.
This is decidedly not a book for beginners in economics. It is a dense, detailed read, full of equations; readers should take the authors seriously with their oft-repeated asides that knowledge of basic calculus will enhance a person’s ability to understand the book. Specialists will, to be sure, find the book’s argument thought provoking. But they are likely to be frustrated by the authors’ use of several competing styles of citation and the absence of a list of the works cited or bibliography to help the reader translate the citations. Both specialist and generalist alike will also be distracted by the number of typographical errors. (One must pause when reading a book on economics that misspells the name of Milton Friedman.)
Decidedly not a book on the Reagan Revolution (which receives only a few pages here), this book does dare the economic specialist to think outside the box, and to consider a theory that might well explain where the world economy is heading. For that, this provocative book has merit.
BlueInk Heads Up: Despite the typographical flaws, professional economists and professors of economics will find this book both appealing and important.