John Kenneth Galbraith

Easton Press John Kenneth Galbraith books

The Great Crash 1929 - 1988
The Affluent Society - 1994
Name-Dropping - signed first edition - 1999
The Economics of Innocent Fraud - signed first edition - 2004

Franklin Library John Kenneth Galbraith books

The Affluent Society - signed limited edition - 1978


Economist John Kenneth Galbraith

John Kenneth Galbraith was a Canadian-American economist, public intellectual, and diplomat, born on October 15, 1908, in Iona Station, Ontario, Canada. He became one of the most influential economists of the 20th century, known for his insightful analyses of economic structures, his wit, and his prolific writing. Galbraith began his academic journey at the Ontario Agricultural College (now part of the University of Guelph) and later pursued his graduate studies at the University of California, Berkeley. He completed his Ph.D. in agricultural economics in 1934, and this marked the beginning of his illustrious career.

During World War II, Galbraith served in various capacities in the United States government, including the Office of Price Administration, where he played a key role in managing wartime price controls. His expertise and contributions led to his appointment as the editor of Fortune magazine after the war. Galbraith's academic career took off with his appointment to Harvard University, where he became the Paul M. Warburg Professor of Economics. He gained recognition for his work on the economics of industrial organization and wrote several influential books during this period.

One of his most famous works, The Affluent Society (1958), challenged the prevailing economic ideas of the time and criticized the emphasis on production and consumption without sufficient attention to social needs. He argued that societies should prioritize social spending over private consumption to address pressing issues such as poverty and inequality. Galbraith's wit and eloquence made him a popular figure not only in academic circles but also in the broader public sphere. His book The New Industrial State (1967) further explored the role of large corporations in shaping economic structures and challenged traditional notions of market competition.

Beyond his contributions to economics, Galbraith served as the U.S. Ambassador to India during the Kennedy administration, where he played a key role in diplomatic relations between the two countries. His commitment to public service and his ability to bridge the gap between academia and policy-making were evident throughout his career. John Kenneth Galbraith received numerous honors and awards for his contributions, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He continued to write and lecture well into his later years, leaving behind a legacy of intellectual rigor and a commitment to addressing social and economic issues. He passed away on April 29, 2006, but his ideas continue to shape economic discourse and policy discussions around the world.


The Affluent Society

John Kenneth Galbraith's classic investigation of private wealth and public poverty in postwar America. With customary clarity, eloquence, and humor, Harvard economist John Kenneth Galbraith gets at the heart of what economic security means in The Affluent Society. Presenting the distinguished economist's perceptions of and prescriptions for the socio-economic problems of the United States.

As relevant today as when it was first published over forty years ago, this newly updated edition of Galbraith's classic text on the 'economics of abundance', lays bare the hazards of individual and social complacency about economic inequality.

Upon publication, this revolutionary study of the economics of opulence became one of the most sought-after books of recent years. Today its perceptions and prescriptions are still so much with us that it is hard to believe that The Affluent Society was first published twenty years ago and that a whole generation has grown up in its shadow.

Why worship work and productivity if many of the goods we produce are superfluous artificial 'needs' created by high-pressure advertising? Why begrudge expenditure on vital public works while ignoring waste and extravagance in the private sector of the economy? Classical economics was born in a harsh world of mass poverty, and has left us with a set of preconceptions ill-adapted to the realities of our own richer age. And so, too often, 'the bland lead the bland'. Our unfamiliar problems need a new approach, and the reception given to this famous book has shown the value of its fresh, lively ideas.

Galbraith lays bare the hazards of individual and social complacency about economic inequality. It is as relevant now, with the ever-widening gap between rich and poor, as when it was first published in 1958. Galbraith challenges why we worship work and productivity when so many of the goods we produce are superfluous, and why we grudge spending on public works while ignoring extravagance in the private sector. "The Affluent Society" exemplifies Galbraith's wit, clarity and eloquence of prose.

John Kenneth Galbraith's international bestseller The Affluent Society is a witty, graceful and devastating attack on some of our most cherished economic myths.

"A compelling challenge to conventional thought" - The New York Times

"He shows himself a truly sensitive and civilized man, whose ideas are grounded in the common culture of the two continents, and may serve as a link between them; his book is of foremost importance for them both" - The Times Literary Supplement

The Great Crash 1929

This work examines the 'gold-rush fantasy' in American psychology and describes its dire consequences. The Florida land boom, the operations of Insull, Kreuger and Hatry, and the Shandoah Corporation all come together in Galbraith's study of concerted human greed and folly.

Of Galbraith's classic examination of the 1929 financial collapse, the Atlantic Monthly said: "Economic writings are seldom notable for their entertainment value, but this book is. Galbraith's prose has grace and wit, and he distills a good deal of sardonic fun from the whopping errors of the nation's oracles and the wondrous antics of the financial community." Now, with the stock market riding historic highs, the celebrated economist returns with new insights on the legacy of our past and the consequences of blind optimism and power plays within the financial community.

Rampant speculation, record trading volumes, assets bought not because of value but because buyers believe they can sell them for more in a day or two, or an hour or two. Welcome to the late '20s. There are obvious & absolute parallels to the bull market of the late '90s, he writes in the '97 introduction. Of course, every financial bubble since '29 has been compared to the Great Crash, which is why this book has never been out of print since being a 1955 bestseller.
Galbraith writes with great wit & erudition about the perilous actions of investors & curious inaction of the government. He notes that the problem wasn't a scarcity of securities to buy & sell; "the ingenuity & zeal with which companies were devised in which securities might be sold was as remarkable as anything." Those words become strikingly relevant in light of revenue-negative start-up companies coming into the market each week in the '90s, along with fragmented pieces of established companies, like real estate & bottling plants. Of course, the '20s were different from the '90s. There was no safety net below citizens, no unemployment insurance or Social Security. Today we don't have the creepy investment trusts in which shares of companies that held some stocks & bonds were sold for several times the assets' market value. But, boy, are the similarities spooky, particularly the prevailing trend at the time toward corporate mergers & industry consolidations not to mention all the partially informed people who imagined themselves to be financial geniuses because the shares of stock they bought kept going up. - Lou Schuler

Name-Dropping - From FDR On

In this collection of anecdotes of the "famous people I have known" variety, John Kenneth Galbraith lets his hair down well, as much as a Harvard economist in his 90s might be expected to, anyway. Despite the informality, Galbraith's prose is suffused throughout with dignified precision, even at its most profane (as in his recollection of his extemporaneous evaluation of incomplete returns from the 1948 presidential election: "I think Thomas E. Dewey may well be shitting in his blue serge pants"). For the most part, Name-Dropping concerns itself with the major American statesmen from the Democratic party of the mid-20th century Roosevelt, Truman, Kennedy, and Johnson--but Galbraith also shares his reminiscences of working on Adlai Stevenson's two failed campaigns against Eisenhower ("no modern politician," he writes of the experience, "had a more faithful coterie of supporters") and of Eleanor Roosevelt, "who, but for the accident of history and the prevailing constraints of gender, could have been President in her own right." On the international front, there's a brief encounter with Albert Speer, Hitler's architect and economic director, and more extended contact with Jawaharlal Nehru, India's first prime minister (Galbraith served as ambassador to India in the Kennedy administration). Name-Dropping is a slim connection of anecdotes, held together by little more than Galbraith's presence, but that is more than enough to make its behind-the-scenes history cohesive and, in its way, quietly entertaining. - Ron Hogan

"Names? You want names? No one knows better ones than John Kenneth Galbraith” (San Diego Union-Tribune). With the dazzling insight, humor, and literary skill that mark Galbraith as one of the most distinguished writers of our time, Name-Dropping charts the political landscape of the past sixty-five years. Drawing on a lifetime of access to many great public figures, the famous economist offers a clear-eyed, unsparing, and amusing “look at prominent people . . . he has known, from FDR on” (Larry King, USA Today) and offers a rich and uniquely personal history of the century, a history he helped to shape.

The Economics of Innocent Fraud - Truth for Our Time

John Kenneth Galbraith has long been at the center of American economics, in key positions of responsibility during the New Deal, World War II, and since, guiding policy and debate. His trenchant new book distills this lifetime of experience in the public and private sectors; it is a scathing critique of matters as they stand today.
Sounding the alarm about the increasing gap between reality and "conventional wisdom" a phrase he coined Galbraith tells, along with much else, how we have reached a point where the private sector has unprecedented control over the public sector. We have given ourselves over to self-serving belief and "contrived nonsense" or, more simply, fraud. This has come at the expense of the economy, effective government, and the business world.
Particularly noted is the central power of the corporation and the shift in authority from shareholders and board members to management. In an intense exercise of fraud, the pretense of shareholder power is still maintained, even with the immediate participants. In fact, because of the scale and complexity of the modern corporation, decisive power must go to management. From management and its own inevitable self-interest, power extends deeply into government, the so-called public sector. This is particularly and dangerously the case in such matters as military policy, the environment, and, needless to say, taxation. Nevertheless, there remains the firm reference to the public sector.
How can fraud be innocent? In his inimitable style, Galbraith offers the answer. His taut, wry, and severe comment is essential reading for everyone who cares about America's future. This book is especially relevant in an election year, but it deeply concerns the much longer future.

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