Freakonomics Blog Reviews Richard Posner's New Book

A “Spasmodic, Improvisational Response”: Richard Posner Tackles the New Depression
Dwyer Gunn
New York Times Freakonomics Blog
April 14, 2009

“The biggest economic crisis since the Great Depression,” as described by Richard Posner, began in December of 2007 amidst plunging housing prices and reached its climax in September of 2008 as Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were placed into conservatorship, and American International Group (A.I.G.) received a government bailout. Throughout the crisis, people all over the country have struggled to understand the causes of the meltdown and the complicated policies the government is pursuing to restore the economy to health.

In his new book A Failure of Capitalism: The Crisis of 2008 and the Descent into Depression, Richard Posner provides a definitive primer on the subject suitable for experts and amateurs alike. He analyzes the underlying causes of the crisis, the government’s policy responses so far, and offers some thoughts on the future of our financial system. Along the way, Posner also explains why he believes the crisis is indeed a depression, disputes the popular idea that investors and banks who bet on rising housing prices were behaving irrationally, and points out the (small) silver lining to the crisis.

Richard A. Posner