The Great Unraveling

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The Great Unraveling: Losing Our Way in the New Century (2003) is a book by American economist and Nobel laureate Paul Krugman, consisting of a collection of his columns for the New York Times (and some for Slate and Fortune). The collected columns were concerned mainly with the U.S. economy in the early 2000s, and about the economic and foreign policies of the George W. Bush administration.



  • Metaphors can be tricky things, but Manhattan's "debt clock" is as good as they come.

Introduction: A Revolutionary Power[edit]

  • Back in 1957, Henry Kissinger—then a brilliant, iconoclastic young Harvard scholar, with his eventual career as cynical political manipulator and, later, as crony capitalist still far in the future—published his doctoral dissertation, A World Restored. One wouldn't think that a book about the diplomatic efforts of Metternich and Castlereagh is relevant to U.S. politics in the twenty-first century. But the first three pages of Kissinger's book sent chills down my spine, because they seem all too relevant to current events.
    [...] It seems clear to me that one should regard America's right-wing movement--which now in effect controls the administration [...] as a revolutionary power in Kissinger's sense. That is, it is a movement whose leaders do not accept the legitimacy of our current political system.
  • Don't assume that policy proposals make sense in terms of their stated goals.
  • Do some homework to find out what these people really want. I’m not talking about deeply hidden motives; usually the true goal is in the public domain. You just have to look at what the people said before they were trying to sell it to the broad public.
  • Don't assume that the usual rules of politics apply. [...] Why don't the usual rules apply? Because a revolutionary power, which does not regard the existing system as legitimate, doesn't feel obliged to play by the rules.
  • When you are dealing with the revolutionary power, it’s important to realize that it will make whatever argument advances that goal. So, there should be no presumption that the claims makes any sense in their own terms.

Ch. 15 : Global Schmobal[edit]

  • The raw fact is that every successful example of economic development this past century – every case of a poor nation that worked its way up to a more or less decent, or at least dramatically better, standard of living – has taken place via globalization, that is, by producing for the world market rather than trying for self-sufficiency.
    • "Enemies of the WTO", originally published in Slate, November 24, 1999

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