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Falling Behind (Wildavsky Forum) (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 25. Oktober 2013

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"I've been a skeptic. Bob Frank is persistent. He's beginning to convince me."--Thomas C. Schelling, author of The Strategy of Conflict

"The arguments here are powerful and multidisciplinary. The crux is explaining how rising economic inequality causes harm to the middle class. It also offers a policy reform--a progressive consumption tax--that serves to mitigate this harm. This is a gem of a book."--Lee S. Friedman, Professor of Public Policy, University of California at Berkeley

"In this lively provocative book filled with memorable new examples, Bob Frank goes beyond his previous work (Luxury Fever, Winner-Take-All Society, and Choosing the Right Pond) and clarifies that 'falling behind' is a consequence not of envy but rather of the simple fact that a person's evaluation of his own possessions 'depends always and everywhere on context'--an unconscious comparison with his neighbor's possessions or with his own previous possessions. His illuminating interchange with prominent discussants is a unique contribution of this book."--Laurence Seidman, Chaplin Tyler Professor of Economics, University of Delaware

"You may think that you understand what's in Bob Frank's earlier books, Choosing the Right Pond and Luxury Fever. You may even have read them. Nevertheless, if you pay even passing attention to the big economic policy questions, you should still read his latest contribution, Falling Behind. In this century, distributional concerns will top the policy agenda. This masterful essay will change how you think about them."--Paul Romer, Stanford University

"The most influential ideas often turn out to be those that seem obvious--once someone has had the wit to point them out. Robert Frank's ideas in Falling Behind meet this test. In this short, lucid set of essays he explains exactly how and why an unequal society leaves almost all its members worse-off, including most of those who objectively are doing 'better.' This is a very important application of economic logic to modern America's main domestic problem."--James Fallows, National Correspondent, The Atlantic Monthly

"Robert Frank escapes the fog of economics wars by illuminating the meaning of facts on the ground, not numerical theories in the sky. He sketches a theory of human economic nature and links it responsibly to the rickety choices of policy-makers who have no such theory or, worse, a truly faulty one."--Lionel Tiger, Rutgers University

"Robert Frank is the rare sort of economist whose work disconcerts economists and delights the rest of us. This is not mainly because he mischievously highlights the blind spots of his learned profession, but because his insights reveal fundamental, unnoticed, and yet very important truths about the society in which we live. As inequality has grown in America over the last three decades, Frank shows in this fluent and powerful little book, we have all been led by human nature to act in ways that are bad for virtually everyone. Frank's ideas should play an important and innovative role in the gathering debate about inequality in America."--Robert D. Putnam, Harvard University

Über den Autor und weitere Mitwirkende

Robert H. Frank is an economics professor in the Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University, Distinguished Senior Fellow at Demos: A Network for Ideas and Action, and a columnist for The New York Times. His books include The Winner Take-All Society (with Philip J. Cook), Luxury Fever, Choosing the Right Pond, Passions Within Reason, and Principles of Economics (with Ben S. Bernanke).

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Kennern der US-Ökonomenszene ist Robert Frank seit den 1980er Jahren ein Begriff. Mit seiner interdisziplinären und verhaltensökonomischen Orientierung gehört er nicht zum Mainstream, gerät aber mit der Blüte der Behavioral Economics immer mehr in dessen Nähe. Dieser Essay ist inhaltlich recht dicht für ein Sachbuch und gleichzeitig sehr ansprechend geschrieben. Im Zentrum steht die Theorie positionaler Güter beim privaten Verbrauch, also Statusgüter, deren Konsum stark von dem Konsumverhalten der Mitmenschen geprägt wird. Die vier wichtigsten Thesen werden angenehmerweise bereits in der Einleitung kurz und verständlich genannt (ich werde sie nicht wiederholen), trotzdem kommt beim weiteren Lesen nicht das Gefühl der Wiederholung auf.

Die Idee ist, dass das Streben nach Status zu einem "Aufrüsten" im Konsum solcher Güter führt, mit der Konsequenz hochgradiger Ineffizienzen. Dies geschieht (nach Franks Theorie) in den USA vor dem Hintergrund einer sich stark spreizenden Einkommensverteilung. Die Mittelschicht muss sich immer mehr recken und strecken, um nicht (relativ) zurückzufallen und nimmt zunehmende Entbehrungen in Kauf, um ein angemessens Eigenheim (Auto, Schulbildung der Kinder) zu finanzieren und so den angestrebten Status zu bewahren. Neben regulatorischen Eingriffen schlägt Frank vor allem eine progressive Konsumbesteuerung vor, um diesen Tendenzen entgegen zu wirken.

Aus dem Blickwinkel des Jahres 2010 betrachtet ist es überraschend, dass Frank die gesamtwirtschaftlichen Ungleichgewichte in den USA (Leistungsbilanzdefizit, niedrige Sparquote der peivaten Haushalte, Immbilienpreisblase) zwar zum Teil anspricht, aber nicht in einem Gesamtkontext integriert.
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4.0 von 5 Sternen Income inequality and the tragedy of the commons 16. Januar 2014
Von Mal Warwick - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verifizierter Kauf
The subject of income inequality took center stage in the public mind only in 2010 with the advent of Occupy Wall Street, but the widening gap between the top 1% and the rest of us had been the subject of fierce debate in economic circles for many years previously. Robert H. Frank made a notable — and eminently readable — contribution to the public discussion with his widely read 1995 book, co-authored with Philip J. Cook, The Winner-Take-All Society. A decade later, Frank delivered the Aaron Wildavsky Lecture at UC Berkeley’s Goldman School of Public Policy on the same broad topic. Frank expanded the lecture into a book under the title Falling Behind in 2007, published by UC Berkeley Press. Last year the Press reissued the book with a new preface by the author.

In Falling Behind, Frank goes far beyond the superficial coverage of income inequality in much of the media, which is largely limited to dramatizing just how far and fast the gap has grown between the haves and have-nots. That’s old hat now (though it wasn’t in 2007).

Making use of homey thought experiments and references to behavioral psychology, Frank explains how income inequality forces people of lower or middle income to spend more than they can afford on housing, clothing, and sometimes even food — and how the policies that foster inequality worsen the “tragedy of the commons,” saddling society with inadequate public transportation, polluted air and water, crumbling infrastructure, and other frequently neglected problems.

Frank challenges conventional economic thought by introducing such concepts as “the rising cost of adequate,” “expenditure cascades” (tantamount to an arms race between the economic classes), “relative deprivation,” and “positional” versus “nonpositional” goods (broadly speaking, personal consumption as opposed to socially desirable goods). The discussion is eye-opening and well worth the few hours needed to read this short but powerful book.

Frank closes Falling Behind with a discussion of progressive consumption taxation as the way to lessen income inequality and generate additional revenue to pay for such long-neglected public goods as maintenance of bridges and roads. A policy of this sort, Frank asserts, “could be achieved by a simple one-line amendment to the federal tax code — namely, by making savings exempt from tax.” Since the difference between income and savings (or investments) is the amount spent on consumption, a sharply rising tax on this amount — climbing to as much as 200% above $4 million — would provide disincentives for the superrich to spend ever rising sums on mansions, yachts, and jewels. At the same time, a progressive consumption tax could insulate the working poor from federal tax with a standard deduction of $7,500 or more per person. Meanwhile, tax revenues would jump sharply.

Given the current political environment, any policy of this sort is a non-starter, as Frank freely concedes. But political conditions change; the pendulum swings. Perhaps next year, or the next decade, will allow an intelligent public discourse on the remedies for our society’s mounting ills.
4.0 von 5 Sternen Great in-depth coverage of positional goods 9. Januar 2014
Von C. A. Smith - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch Verifizierter Kauf
This book provides many great examples and evidence of positional goods. A positional good is a good in which the owner derives utility not from its intrinsic quality, but its quality relative to others. A classic example is house size: many people want a large house not for its own sake, but as a form of conspicuous consumption to show off to their friends. House sizes have been rising at an unnatural rate and so has housing debt.

I disagree that inequality is the cause of all these problems. There are two other agents at fault: the individual, and government. Individuals are often stupid, and short-sighted decisions to consume conspicuously, often to their long-run unhappiness. Governments, too, encourage positional good spending, by offering mortgage interest tax deductions and rigid public school districts that have no doubt helped create artificial real estate premiums. I disagree that a redistributive aggressive progressive consumption tax would solve all our woes. A consumption tax in itself may be superior to our present income tax, but the aggressive redistribution he advocates, just for the purpose of curbing inequality, just sounds too much like left-wing propaganda.
5.0 von 5 Sternen conciste and brilliant. 2. Dezember 2015
Von D. Bulkley - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch Verifizierter Kauf
Short, concise and brilliant.
5.0 von 5 Sternen Five Stars 14. August 2015
Von Nicholas Topping - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch Verifizierter Kauf
"Read it" for class, got an A.
5.0 von 5 Sternen Five Stars 27. September 2015
Von Mk - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch Verifizierter Kauf
Nice!
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