Sunday, January 31, 2010

Books read in 2009

I have finally found some time to write down a list of most of the books I read last year. Instead of writing reviews for which of them, I graded each of the books with "*" - from * (useless) through ** (OK to read) to *** (superb). So, here is the (almost complete) list:

1. Development as Freedom by Amartya Sen**
2. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Vintage) by Stieg Larsson***
3. Economic Development in East Central Europe in the Nineteenth andTwentieth Centuries (Institute on East Central Europe Series) by Ivan T. Berend and Gyorgy Ranki**
4. Successes of the International Monetary Fund: Untold Stories of Cooperation at Work by Eduard Brau and Ian McDonald**
5. The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream (Vintage) by Barack Obama **
6. Animal Spirits: How Human Psychology Drives the Economy, and Why It Matters for Global Capitalism by George A. Akerlof and Robert Shiller**
7. The Return of Depression Economics and the Crisis of 2008 by Paul Krugman***
8. The Chamber by John Grisham**
9. The Associate: A Novel by John Grisham***
10. Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness by Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein**
11. One Economics, Many Recipes: Globalization, Institutions, and Economic Growth by Dani Rodrik***
12. The Miracle: The Epic Story of Asia's Quest for Wealth by Michael Schuman***
13. The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World - Niall Ferguson**
14. The Next 100 Years: A Forecast for the 21st Century - George Friedman**
15. Imagining India: The Idea of a Renewed Nation by Nandan Nilekani*
16. “Zywina” by Rafal Ziemkiewicz**
17. “Cialo Obce” by Rafal Ziemkiewicz**
18. “My, Narod” by Tomasz Lis*
19. „Czy globalizacja musi być irracjonalna?” Władysław Szymański***
20. Global Tax Revolution: The Rise of Tax Competition and the Battle to Defend It by Chris Edwards and Daniel J. Mitchell*
21. „Konkurencja podatkowa i harmonizacja podatków w ramach Unii Europejskiej, implikacje dla Polski” by Leokadia Oręziak*
22. „Podatki w Unii Europejskiej. Harmonizacja czy konkurencja podatkowa?” Slawomi Bukowski, Marek Pypec*
23. The Subprime Solution: How Today's Global Financial Crisis Happened, and What to Do about It by Robert J. Shiller**
24. Hoodwinked: An Economic Hit Man Reveals Why the World Financial Markets Imploded--and What We Need to Do to Remake Them by John Perkins**
25. “Capital Ideas Evolving” Peter L. Bernstein**
26. „Dlaczego nie jesteśmy bogaci. Dystans gospodarki polskiej do zachodnioeuropejskiej” by Wójtowicz Grzegorz, Wójtowicz Anna**
27. „Polska przedmurzem Europy” by Janusz Tazbir*
28. „How It All Happened” by Andrzej K. Kozminski**
29. “Zupełnie normalna historia” by Marcin Kula*
30. The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries are Failing and What Can Be Done About It by Paul Collier***
31. „Świat Według Mellera. Życie i Polityka: Ku Przyszłości” by Michal Komar**
32. „Władysław Bartoszewski. Wywiad rzeka” by Michal Komar**
33. Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions (Revised & Expanded Edition) by Dan Ariely**
34. Świat, który oszalał czyli poradnik na ciekawe czasy Witold M. Orłowski**
35. White Eagle, Red Star: The Polish-Soviet War 1919-1920 and "The Miracle on the Vistula” by Norman Davies**
36. Intellectuals: From Marx and Tolstoy to Sartre and Chomsky (P.S.) by Paul Johnson*
37. “Heroes: From Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar to Churchill and de Gaulle” by Paul Johnson*
38. “The Post-American World” by Fareed Zakaria**
39. Rivals: How the Power Struggle Between China, India, and Japan Will Shape Our Next Decade by Bill Emmott***
40. Everyman by Philip Roth**
41. The Logic of Life: The Rational Economics of an Irrational World by Tim Harford**

A Country is Not a Company

and why businesspeople don't necessarily make great economists. A pretty entertaining and illuminating article from no other than Paul Krugman writing in 1996 in the Harvard Business Review. Here is the article

However, to understand why businessmen (like my students at Kozminski University) should know macroeconomics, read this.

Friday, January 29, 2010

The Economist on "Poland's strong economy"

This week's The Economist features an article on Poland, written by my friend Edward Lucas, the CEE correspondent, quite poignantly entitled "From horse power to horsepower". Recommended.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

World Bank's "Global Economic Prospects 2010"

The World Bank, my employer, has just published its flagship "Global Economic Prospects 2010" report. It is worth reading, particularly that the WB seems to be more worried about a potential double dip in the global economy than the IMF and the global markets.

America is more socialist than Poland!

at least in personal taxation: a presentation from the OECD shows (p. 9) that personal tax progressivity in Poland is lower than in the US! In other words, richer Americans are taxed more heavily than richer Poles relative to their poorer compatriots!

Given that richer Poles stop paying social security contributions when their annual income exceeds 30-times the monthly average income, Poland's tax wedge (combining PIT and social security contributions) is probably one of the least progressive in the whole OECD and the EU.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

How fast will the global economy grow after the crisis?

Reinhart and Rogoff have a new interesting paper on "Growth in a Time of Debt". Abstract below:

We study economic growth and inflation at different levels of government and external
debt. Our analysis is based on new data on forty-four countries spanning about two hundred years. The dataset incorporates over 3,700 annual observations covering a wide range of political systems, institutions, exchange rate arrangements, and historic circumstances. Our main findings are: First, the relationship between government debt and real GDP growth is weak for debt/GDP ratios below a threshold of 90 percent of GDP. Above 90 percent, median growth rates fall by one percent, and average growth falls considerably more. We find that the threshold for public debt is similar in advanced and emerging economies. Second, emerging markets face
lower thresholds for external debt (public and private)—which is usually denominated in a foreign currency. When external debt reaches 60 percent of GDP, annual growth declines by about two percent; for higher levels, growth rates are roughly cut in half. Third, there is no apparent contemporaneous link between inflation and public debt levels for the advanced countries as a group (some countries, such as the United States, have experienced higher inflation when debt/GDP is high.) The story is entirely different for emerging markets, where inflation rises sharply as debt increases.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Lower potential growth in Europe

Gert Jan Koopman and (my friend) Istvan Szekely from the European Commission published a pretty interesting note on the potential growth rate in the EU after the crisis. They come to the conclusion that without the potential growth is likely to slow significantly and only a forceful policy response, particularly as regards the financial sector, can help to mitigate the expected slowdown

Monday, January 11, 2010

Paul Krugman praising Europe

Paul Krugman has a very interesting op-ed in today's New York Times on "Learning from Europe", where he argues that Americans don't appreciate Europe enough. He goes on to argue that "the story you hear all the time — of a stagnant economy in which high taxes and generous social benefits have undermined incentives, stalling growth and innovation — bears little resemblance to the surprisingly positive facts. The real lesson from Europe is actually the opposite of what conservatives claim: Europe is an economic success, and that success shows that social democracy works". Worth reading.

Sunday, January 3, 2010


On December 30 I participated in a radio program EKG, which deals with current economic affairs. The audio of the program is available here