Joseph Nye Speaks at “How The Light Gets In” Festival

Presidential Leadership“How The Light Gets In” advertises itself as a philosophy and music festival at Hay on Wye. The event just had its fifth year, with over 30,000 people in attendance, many of whom saw and heard Joseph Nye’s talk about his book, Presidential Leadership and the Creation of the American Era, which examines the foreign policy decisions of the presidents who presided over the most critical phases of America’s rise to world primacy in the twentieth century, and assesses the effectiveness and ethics of their choices.

Joseph S. Nye, Jr. is University Distinguished Service Professor and former dean of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. His books include Soft Power, The Powers to Lead, and The Future of Power. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a member of the American Academy of Diplomacy.

Now, check out his speech in the video below:

Special Excerpt from “The Bankers’ New Clothes: What’s Wrong with Banking and What to Do about It”

The Bankers' New ClothesYesterday marked the fifth anniversary of the Lehman Brothers filing for bankruptcy in 2008, sending our economy into a tailspin. To note this occasion, we posted a list of some of our Top Banking Books to help people try to figure out what in the world is going on with our economy.
Along that same thread, today we have a special excerpt of The Bankers’ New Clothes: What’s Wrong with Banking and What to Do about It by Anat Admati & Martin Hellwig posted below. In this excerpt (pages 11-12 to be exact), Admati and Hellwig address the Lehman Brothers fall and the ripple affect it had on America and even other countries abroad.
As a whole, the book addresses how risks in banking can impose significant costs on the economy. Many think that a safer banking system would require sacrificing lending and economic growth, but Admati and Hellwig  argue that we can have a safer and healthier banking system without sacrificing any of the benefits of the system, and at essentially no cost to society.
Check out the excerpt below!

In the run-up to the financial crisis, the debts of many large banks financed 97 percent or more of their assets. Lehman Brothers in the United States, Hypo Real Estate in Germany, Dexia in Belgium and France, and UBS in Switzerland had many hundreds of billions of dollars, euros, or Swiss francs in debt. Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy in September 2008. The other three avoided bankruptcy only because they were bailed out by their governments.


The Lehman Brothers bankruptcy caused severe disruption and damage to the global financial system. Stock prices imploded, investors withdrew from money market funds, money market funds refused to renew their loans to banks, and banks stopped lending to each other. Banks furiously tried to sell assets, which further depressed prices. Within two weeks, many banks faced the prospect of default.


To prevent a complete meltdown of the system, governments and central banks all over the world provided financial institutions with funding and with guarantees for the institutions’ debts. These interventions stopped the decline, but the downturn in economic activity was still the sharpest since the Great Depression. Anton Valukas, the lawyer appointed by the bankruptcy court to investigate Lehman Brothers, put it succinctly: “Everybody got hurt. The entire economy has suffered from the fall of Lehman Brothers . . . the whole world.”


In the fall of 2008, many financial institutions besides Lehman Brothers were also vulnerable. Ben Bernanke, chairman of the Federal Reserve, told the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission (FCIC) that “out of maybe . . . 13 of the most important financial institutions in the United States, 12 were at risk of failure within a period of a week or two.” Some or all of the major banks in Belgium, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom failed or were at significant risk of failing had their governments not bailed them out.


Accounts of the crisis often focus on the various breakdowns of bank funding between August 2007 and October 2008. Much bank funding consisted of very short-term debt. Banks were therefore vulnerable to the risk that this debt would not be renewed. The deeper reason for the breakdowns, however, was that banks were highly indebted. When banks suffered losses, investors, including other financial institutions, lost confidence and cut off funding, fearing that the banks might become unable to repay their debts.


The Lehman Brothers bankruptcy itself heightened investors’ concerns by showing that even a large financial institution might not be bailed out, and therefore that default of such an institution was a real possibility.


The problem posed by some banks being regarded as too big to fail is greater today than it was in 2008. Since then, the largest U.S. banks have become much larger. On March 31, 2012, the debt of JPMorgan Chase was valued at $2.13 trillion and that of Bank of America at $1.95 trillion, more than three times the debt of Lehman Brothers. The debts of the five largest banks in the United States totaled around $8 trillion. These figures would have been even larger under the accounting rules used in Europe.


In Europe, the largest banks are of similar size. Because European economies are smaller than that of the United States, the problem is even more serious there. Relative to the overall economy, banks are significantly larger in Europe than in the United States, especially in some of the smaller countries. In Ireland and Iceland before the crisis, the banking systems had become so large that, when the banks failed, these countries’ economies collapsed.


The traumatic Lehman experience has scared most governments into believing that large global banks must not be allowed to fail. Should any of these large banks get into serious difficulties, however, we may discover that they are not only too big to fail but also too big to save. There will be no good options.


The consequences of letting a large bank fail are probably more severe today than in the case of Lehman Brothers in 2008, but saving them might cripple their countries. The experiences of Ireland and Spain provide a taste of what can happen if large banking systems have to be saved by their governments. In both countries, the governments were unable to deal with their banking problems on their own, so they had to ask for support from the International Monetary Fund and from the European Union.

The Fifth Anniversary of the Lehman Brothers Bankruptcy

The Fifth Anniversary of the Lehman Brothers Bankruptcy and Our Top 10 Books on Banking

Since the economic downturn in America, people have been paying much more attention to what is going on with their government, their spending, and most certainly their banks. As today is the fifth anniversary of the Lehman Brothers filing for bankruptcy (the largest bankruptcy filing in the history of the United States), we here at the Press thought we would help you all out a little by suggesting some of our best publications on bank failures, economic regulations, and financial crises. Fun topic for a lazy Sunday, right?
Click on the titles below to learn more about them, and don’t forget to check back tomorrow for an exclusive excerpt from our newest banking book this year: The Bankers’ New Clothes: What’s Wrong with Banking and What to Do about It by Anat Admati and Martin Hellwig.

The Banker's New Clothes1) The Bankers’ New Clothes: What’s Wrong with Banking and What to Do about It
By: Anat Admati & Martin Hellwig
What is wrong with today’s banking system? The past few years have shown that risks in banking can impose significant costs on the economy. Many claim, however, that a safer banking system would require sacrificing lending and economic growth. The Bankers’ New Clothes examines this claim and the narratives used by bankers, politicians, and regulators to rationalize the lack of reform, exposing them as invalid.

2) DeDebt's Dominionbt’s Dominion: A History of Bankruptcy Law in America
By: David A. Skeel Jr.
David Skeel provides the first complete account of the remarkable journey American bankruptcy law has taken from its beginnings in 1800, when Congress lifted the country’s first bankruptcy code right out of English law, to the present day.

 

3) HowHow Big Banks Fail Big Banks Fail and What to Do about It
By: Darrell Duffie
How Big Banks Fail and What to Do about It examines how large dealer banks (like J.P. Morgan and Goldman Sachs) collapse and how we can prevent the need to bail them out.

 

4) UnWhysettled Account: The Evolution of Banking in the Industrialized World since 1800
By: Richard S. Grossman
In Unsettled Account, Richard Grossman takes the first truly comparative look at the development of commercial banking systems over the past two centuries in Western Europe, the United States, Canada, Japan, and Australia. Grossman focuses on four major elements that have contributed to banking evolution: crises, bailouts, mergers, and regulations.

 

Rochet_Why11115) Why Are There So Many Banking Crises? The Politics and Policy of Bank Regulation
By: Jean-Charles Rochet
Almost every country in the world has sophisticated systems to prevent banking crises. Yet such crises–and the massive financial and social damage they can cause–remain common throughout the world. Jean-Charles Rochet, one of the world’s leading authorities on banking regulation, makes the case that, although many banking crises are precipitated by financial deregulation and globalization, political interference often causes–and almost always exacerbates–banking crises.

6) AppAppeasing Bankerseasing Bankers: Financial Caution on the Road to War
By: Jonathan Kirshner
The financial world values economic stability above all else, and crises and war threaten that stability. Appeasing Bankers shows that, when faced with the prospect of war or international political crisis, national financial communities favor caution and demonstrate a marked aversion to war.

 

7) CodCodes of Financees of Finance: Engineering Derivatives in a Global Bank
By: Vincent Antonin Lépinay
Codes of Finance takes readers behind the scenes of the equity derivatives business at one of the world’s leading investment banks before the crisis, providing a detailed firsthand account of the creation, marketing, selling, accounting, and management of these financial instruments–and of how they ultimately created havoc inside and outside the bank.

 

Balancing the Banks8) Balancing the Banks: Global Lessons from the Financial Crisis
By: Mathias Dewatripont, Jean-Charles Rochet & Jean Tirole
Translated by: Keith Tribe
Bringing together three leading financial economists to provide an international perspective, Balancing the Banks draws critical lessons from the causes of the crisis and proposes important regulatory reforms, including sound guidelines for the ways in which distressed banks might be dealt with in the future.

 

9) BankBanking on the Futureing on the Future: The Fall and Rise of Central Banking
By: Howard Davies & David Green
Banking on the Future provides a fascinating insider’s look into how central banks have evolved and why they are critical to the functioning of market economies. The book asks whether, in light of the recent economic fallout, the central banking model needs radical reform.

 

10) Banksprincetonlogo and Politics in America from the Revolution to the Civil War
By: Bray Hammond
Bray Hammond investigates into the role of banking in the formation of American society. Hammond, who was assistant secretary of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System from 1944 to 1950, presents this 771-page book with a definitive account of how banking evolved in the United States in the context of the nation’s political and social development.

Jill Lepore is Runner-up for Art of the Essay Award

Jill Lepore – The Story of America: Essays on Origins
Runner-up for the 2013 PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay, PEN American Center

“The 2013 PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay will be awarded “…to a book of essays published in 2012 that exemplifies the dignity and esteem that the essay form imparts to literature.”

“Award winners and runners-up will be honored at the 2013 PEN Literary Awards Ceremony on Monday, October 21, 2013, at CUNY Graduate Center’s Proshansky Auditorium in New York City, featuring Master of Ceremonies Andy Borowitz.

For more information about the award, check out: http://www.aesonline.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&layout=blog&id=15&Itemid=13

The Story of AmericaIn The Story of America, Harvard historian and New Yorker staff writer Jill Lepore investigates American origin stories–some moving, some painful, and all of them fascinating, from John Smith’s account of the founding of Jamestown in 1607 to Barack Obama’s 2009 inaugural address–to show how American democracy is bound up with the history of print. Over the centuries, Americans have read and written their way into a political culture of ink and type.

Part civics primer, part cultural history, The Story of America excavates the origins of everything from the paper ballot and the Constitution to the I.O.U. and the dictionary. Along the way it presents fresh readings of Benjamin Franklin’s Way to Wealth, Thomas Paine’s Common Sense, “The Raven” by Edgar Allan Poe, and “Paul Revere’s Ride” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, as well as histories of lesser-known genres, including biographies of presidents, novels of immigrants, and accounts of the Depression.

From past to present, Lepore argues, Americans have wrestled with the idea of democracy by telling stories. In this thoughtful and provocative book, Lepore offers at once a history of origin stories and a meditation on storytelling itself.

Jill Lepore is the David Woods Kemper ’41 Professor of American History at Harvard University and a staff writer at the New Yorker. Her books include The Mansion of Happiness, The Whites of Their Eyes (Princeton), and Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin.

Working for the (Labor Day) weekend: PUP’s holiday reading recommendation

It’s been an American tradition for over a century. Here in PUP’s home state of New Jersey, we started celebrating the working man and woman more than 120 years ago. This year, readers can observe Labor Day with a look back at how the workforce has developed in that time.

Nelson Lichtenstein’s State of the Union: A Century of American Labor surveys the history of the American workforce and examines how trade unionism has waxed and waned in the nation’s political and moral imagination, among both devoted partisans and intransigent foes. From the steel foundry to the burger-grill, from Woodrow Wilson to John Sweeney, from Homestead to Pittston, Lichtenstein weaves together a compelling matrix of ideas, stories, strikes, laws, and people in a streamlined narrative of work and labor in the twentieth century.

PUP has j9780691160276ust released a revised and expanded edition of this award-winning book, which includes a new preface and two new chapters by the author. Lichtenstein engages with many of those who have offered commentary on State of the Union and evaluates the historical literature that has emerged in the decade since the book’s initial publication. He also brings his narrative into the current moment with a final chapter, “Obama’s America: Liberalism without Unions.”

Here’s more on this thought-provoking read:

The “labor question” became a burning issue during the Progressive Era because its solution seemed essential to the survival of American democracy itself. Beginning there, Lichtenstein takes us all the way to the organizing fever of contemporary Los Angeles, where the labor movement stands at the center of the effort to transform millions of new immigrants into alert citizen unionists. He offers an expansive survey of labor’s upsurge during the 1930s, when the New Deal put a white, male version of industrial democracy at the heart of U.S. political culture. He debunks the myth of a postwar “management-labor accord” by showing that there was (at most) a limited, unstable truce.

Lichtenstein argues that the ideas that had once sustained solidarity and citizenship in the world of work underwent a radical transformation when the rights-centered social movements of the 1960s and 1970s captured the nation’s moral imagination. The labor movement was therefore tragically unprepared for the years of Reagan and Clinton: although technological change and a new era of global economics battered the unions, their real failure was one of ideas and political will. Throughout, Lichtenstein argues that labor’s most important function, in theory if not always in practice, has been the vitalization of a democratic ethos, at work and in the larger society. To the extent that the unions fuse their purpose with that impulse, they can once again become central to the fate of the republic. State of the Union is an incisive history that tells the story of one of America’s defining aspirations.

 

For a look at the history of Labor Day, including facts about its start, visit http://www.dol.gov/opa/aboutdol/laborday.htm.

More from Gabriella Coleman on the NSA Leaks

Today in a final post in our ongoing NSA debate between authors Gabriella Coleman and Rahul Sagar,  Professor Coleman, author of Coding Freedom, responds to Professor Sagar’s recent post, offering a historical perspective on intelligence agencies and raising the potential for grave abuse in an era of increased technological capabilities. Read the wrap up post in this fascinating series here:

Gabriella Coleman:

Rahul Sagar’s thoughtful response has prompted me to think through a few troubling questions which have been plaguing me since Snowden’s bombshell revelations. It is without question that intelligence agencies require secrecy to effectively work.  I agree that this issue is not new. But if history is any guide, it also shows that secrecy, while necessary, is also a breeding ground for abuse. In a prior era, a dramatic leak by the Citizens Commission to Investigate the FBI helped put an end to a 40 year reign of outrageous abuses, such as COINTELPRO, at the helm of J. Edgar Hoover who ruled the FBI with an secretive iron fist.

But this surveillance apparatus strikes as technologically and thus historically distinctive. It can be gravely abused with or without a Hoover. Never in our history have we had in place a surveillance infrastructure as extensive and powerful as we do now, nor administrations who have refused so systematically to declassify information. (One does wonder what Nixon could have done with the surveillance methods that the government has at its disposal today).  With enough computer power, it is frighteningly easy for the government to gather data. This ease will likely push them to seek questionable or ex post de facto justifications for their actions. This was put rather cogently and succinctly by civil liberties lawyer Jennifer Granick when “Of course, we see mission creep – once you build the mousetrap of surveillance infrastructure, they will come for the data.” It is not only that they have this power, but as sociologists and others, have noted, secrecy is alluring and really hard to give up/ This state of mind was put best by physicist Edward Teller who wrote, “secrecy, once accepted, becomes an addiction.”

There might be a very good reason to have the surveillance methods that the NSA has now, but until that reason is disclosed, there is no reason for them to have such awesome technical (and questionable) legal powers currently at their disposal. The problem is we have these programs and our government could use them as a tool of oppression (in fact the mere fact of their existence serves to stifle dissent). Even if abuses are not so grave today, what is so troubling is how these programs enable any future person who might gain control of them to utilize these tools for serious oppression.

We as a society have to ask whether this is a gamble we are willing to take. Since the stakes for the future are so high, the decision about the scope and depth of eavesdropping cannot and should not be an undertaking that is decided by the President, the FISA court, or even all the three branches of government acting in agreement. Only we as a people, who hold the truths described in the constitution as self-evident, are allowed, by that very constitution, to make changes to these rights. “to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men [and Women et al.], deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government” At some point, the actions of the government go too far, and it is up to us to sound the alarm. The Pentagon Papers, the COINTELPRO leaks, the Tet Offensive, these are many instances when citizens have not trusted our elected officials and with good reason.

It is our responsibility to hold our elected officials accountable, although we  can only effectively do so with the aid of a free press. Journalists help keep whistle-blowers accountable. Snowden worked with journalists, from independent film maker Laura Poitras to Glenn Greenwald at the Guardian to Barton Gellman of the Washington Post. The fact that respected news organizations accepted the leaks, filtered the information, and wrote extensive and thoughtful stories demonstrates the validity and responsibility of Snowden’s actions. If his leaks posed such a grave threat to the state of security, I trust these media establishments would not gone public with them.

Finally, I would like to clarify Snowden’s statements on Nuremberg. He is not equating the NSA with Nazi Germany, he just simply referencing a principle. He is also not saying that this principle exonerates him in any US court, but simply that it justifies his actions on a moral level. Snowden is saying that there are times where it is not only moral to break the law, but that it is immoral and wrong to not break the law. Further, it might be interesting  engage  in a thought experiment about how Snowden’s actions also might relate to the Nuremberg Principles.  For the purposes of this experiment, we would submit some undisputed facts about The United States. The United States continues to torture and cause substantial suffering to 44 people who are still held against their will in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, via forced nasal intubation twice daily. In the past, they were tortured by electrocuting their genitals, and simulated drowning through waterboarding. The US has forcibly rendered people to other countries for purposes of torture, and deprive them of their liberty without charge or due process, calling them “detainees”. If we look how Nuremberg Principles defines a “crime against humanity” the United States has committed over half of the abuses on that list. The programs that Snowden has revealed likely were involved in the capture and detainment of many of these people.

In the end I, like everyone else, wants to live in a state of security. This means not only  thwarting terrorism—though it invariably includes it—but means having the security to engage in dissent, thus the security to call out the grave human rights abuses—such as those at Guantanamo Bay—which our elected officials have allowed to transpire and to raise red flags about programs, such as Prism, which might lead to grave abuse in the future.

 

 

Professor William G. Howell discusses his new book: ‘Thinking About Presidency’

Prof. William G. Howell hopes to focus the national conversation about the American presidency. In his new book, Thinking about the Presidency: The Primacy of Power, Howell argues that to understand presidential behavior, it is necessary to recognize that a president’s core interest is in guarding, acquiring and expanding his base of power.

“This single, simple insight about the president and power goes a long way to explaining presidential behavior,” said Howell, the Sydney Stein Professor in American Politics at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy, in an interview about his new book, arguing that once this fundamental truth is more widely accepted, discourse on the presidency will become more coherent and fruitful.

Howell hopes his new work will advance presidential studies similarly to how David Mayhew’s 1974 book, Congress: The Electoral Connection affected legislative studies—providing an organizational template for future arguments and theories.

“Mayhew pointed out the profound effect that concern with reelection had on the behavior of legislators and that changed and focused the conversation,” Howell said. “Right now in presidential studies, there is a real preoccupation with anecdotes and stories while scholars are talking past one another.”

Howell contends that the presidential preoccupation with power is not a single-minded pursuit, but that its attainment and maintenance affects all presidential efforts, whether they involve bargaining with others or new sources of influence. In fact, he adds, concerns about power are logical and necessary to enact public policy, undo the work of predecessors, respond to perceived public mandates and secure a strong place in history.

“The president sits alone atop his governing institution and has eyes on a broader and longer horizon than legislators or judges or bureaucrats,” he explained. “He represents the country as a whole. This is part and parcel of a president’s need to obtain power and to exert control. He needs to dominate his branch of government and the whole institution.”

Of course, wanting power and holding power are two different things. In the book, Howell explains that when the Founding Fathers wrote the U.S. Constitution they gave the president only a handful of enumerated powers, but the ambiguity of the document has allowed consecutive presidents to add to their powers over time.  At the same time, the Constitution posits that the general welfare will be protected and promoted not by any single branch of government, but through the interplay of all the three branches.

“Sitting alone on a hill and preaching wisdom and exercising self-restraint is not what the founders had in mind,” Howell said. “They built a government premised on the notion that power would be made to check power and that ambition would be made to check ambition.”

Howell believes that today’s popular notion that presidents should exercise more self-restraint and limit their executive authority is misguided.

“It ignores the foundational incentives that executives face, incentives where they are asked to address every conceivable problem in the world and yet they lack the formal authority within the constitution to fulfill those expectations. They have to manufacture power or they have to beseech the other branches of government to give them powers that are not automatically found in the Constitution if they stand any chance at survival.”

Interestingly, even as presidents accumulate more power for themselves, at no time are they seen more as failures than when they do not exercise that power, especially when it appears that they are refusing to act.

One example of this is President Jimmy Carter and the Iran hostage crisis. In 1979, a group of young Islamic militants stormed the embassy in Tehran and held 66 Americans prisoner for 444 days. Howell points out that Carter’s failure to end the crisis earlier derived not from unwillingness to act but from a lack of viable options. But the fact that more was not done ultimately led to Carter’s downfall.

Still, beyond the Constitutional limits on presidential power are other restrictions, such as cultural misgivings. Built into the American psyche, largely as a result of the dislike of the absolute power held by the British monarchy they left behind, is a condemnation of presidential candidates who betray too much interest in holding the office.

In the 2000 election George W. Bush regularly needled Vice President Al Gore for his long-standing ambition to become president. Further,Washington Post correspondent David Broder derided Gore’s acceptance speech at the Democratic convention because he talked about “what he wants to do as president.” Consequently, Bush was elected, despite the fact that he also came from a long-standing political family. Howell points out that it was the perception of Gore’s thirst for power that defeated him, regardless of the fact that Bush was equally ambitious.

Howells’s nuanced examination of power and the presidency explores more than just the attainment of power, it also looks at how a president’s pursuit of power manifests itself, how it speaks to the standards Americans set for their presidents and how alternative models of executive leadership are ruled out by these standards. Thinking about the Presidency reframes the study of presidential behavior and could change the way the national electorate thinks about its leader.

To view the original article, please visit The University of Chicago’s website:
http://www.harrisschool.uchicago.edu/news-and-events/features/faculty-research/new-book-explores-presidential-preoccupation-power

Thinking about the Presidency by William G. Howell With David Milton Brent
“In this brief, well-written book, William Howell ranges widely and astutely as he encourages readers to view the presidency through the prism of its core dimension–power. This volume will be a valuable complement to courses on the presidency.”–George C. Edwards III, author of Overreach: Leadership in the Obama Presidency
Thinking about the Presidency:
The Primacy of Power

William G. Howell
With David Milton Brent
Drawings by Catherine Hamilton

All American presidents, past and present, have cared deeply about power–acquiring, protecting, and expanding it. While individual presidents obviously have other concerns, such as shaping policy or building a legacy, the primacy of power considerations–exacerbated by expectations of the presidency and the inadequacy of explicit powers in the Constitution–sets presidents apart from other political actors. Thinking about the Presidency explores presidents’ preoccupation with power. Distinguished presidential scholar William Howell looks at the key aspects of executive power–political and constitutional origins, philosophical underpinnings, manifestations in contemporary political life, implications for political reform, and looming influences over the standards to which we hold those individuals elected to America’s highest office.

Howell shows that an appetite for power may not inform the original motivations of those who seek to become president. Rather, this need is built into the office of the presidency itself–and quickly takes hold of whomever bears the title of Chief Executive. In order to understand the modern presidency, and the degrees to which a president succeeds or fails, the acquisition, protection, and expansion of power in a president’s political life must be recognized–in policy tools and legislative strategies, the posture taken before the American public, and the disregard shown to those who would counsel modesty and deference within the White House.

Thinking about the Presidency assesses how the search for and defense of presidential powers informs nearly every decision made by the leader of the nation.

William G. Howell is the Sydney Stein Professor in American Politics at the University of Chicago, where he holds appointments in the Harris School of Public Policy, the Department of Political Science, and the College. His books include While Dangers Gather and Power without Persuasion (both Princeton), as well as The Wartime President. David Milton Brent is a PhD student in the Department of Political Science at Yale University.

Endorsement:

Thinking about the Presidency is an important antidote to all the rhetoric, reporting, prognostication, and public discourse that focuses on presidential individuality. Focusing on commonalities across presidents, Howell looks at how the institutional and political setting influences presidential behavior. His message is important.”–Jeffrey E. Cohen, Fordham University

“Howell is a formidable scholar. His informative book will be of broad interest to educated people who want to read a scholarly analysis of the presidency, as viewed through the lens of power.”–James P. Pfiffner, George Mason University

“This book is a crisp take on a key topic. What makes presidents tick? What makes them succeed? It is a good moment to pare down to fundamentals, and this book will serve as a useful guide to our next chief executive–no matter who that turns out to be.”–Andrew Rudalevige, Bowdoin College

 

Bill Gates includes an award winning PUP title in his 2013 Summer Reading List

Billionaire Bill Gates, chairman and founder of Microsoft Corp., listens during the 2013 Fiscal Summit sponsored by the Peter G. Peterson Foundation in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, May 7, 2013. The summit puts forward solutions for bipartisan agreement to address America’s long-term debt and deficits. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Bill Gates has shared his reading lists before, and this summer he has named some interesting non-fiction (and one fiction) books that he plans on reading. He posted the list last week on his blog:
http://www.thegatesnotes.com/Personal/Summer-Reading-List-2013

Among the titles in Bill’s book pile is The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger by Marc Levinson. Levinson’s publication has been recognized with a number of awards:

  • Shortlisted for the 2006 Financial Times/Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year
  • Winner of the 2007 Bronze Independent Publisher Book Award, Finance/Investment/Economics category
  • Honorable Mention for the 2006 John Lyman Book Award, Science and Technology category, North American Society for Ocean History
  • Winner of the 2007 Anderson Medal, Society for Nautical Research

 
To see the rest of the books on Bill’s list, check out this Huffington Post article: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/15/bill-gates-reading_n_3601091.html

The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger by Marc LevinsonThe Box:
How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger

Marc Levinson

In April 1956, a refitted oil tanker carried fifty-eight shipping containers from Newark to Houston. From that modest beginning, container shipping developed into a huge industry that made the boom in global trade possible. The Box tells the dramatic story of the container’s creation, the decade of struggle before it was widely adopted, and the sweeping economic consequences of the sharp fall in transportation costs that containerization brought about.

Published on the fiftieth anniversary of the first container voyage, this is the first comprehensive history of the shipping container. It recounts how the drive and imagination of an iconoclastic entrepreneur, Malcom McLean, turned containerization from an impractical idea into a massive industry that slashed the cost of transporting goods around the world and made the boom in global trade possible.

But the container didn’t just happen. Its adoption required huge sums of money, both from private investors and from ports that aspired to be on the leading edge of a new technology. It required years of high-stakes bargaining with two of the titans of organized labor, Harry Bridges and Teddy Gleason, as well as delicate negotiations on standards that made it possible for almost any container to travel on any truck or train or ship. Ultimately, it took McLean’s success in supplying U.S. forces in Vietnam to persuade the world of the container’s potential.

Drawing on previously neglected sources, economist Marc Levinson shows how the container transformed economic geography, devastating traditional ports such as New York and London and fueling the growth of previously obscure ones, such as Oakland. By making shipping so cheap that industry could locate factories far from its customers, the container paved the way for Asia to become the world’s workshop and brought consumers a previously unimaginable variety of low-cost products from around the globe.

Review:

“One of the most significant, yet least noticed, economic developments of the last few decades [was] the transformation of international shipping. . . . The idea of containerization was simple: to move trailer-size loads of goods seamlessly among trucks, trains and ships, without breaking bulk. . . . Along the way, even the most foresighted people made mistakes and lost millions. . . . [A] classic tale of trial and error, and of creative destruction.”–Virginia Postrel, The New York Times

“Marc Levinson’s concern is business history on a grand scale. He tells a moral tale. There are villains … and there is one larger than life hero: Malcom McLean. . . . Levinson has produced a fascinating exposition of the romance of the steel container. I’ll never look at a truck in the same way again.”–Howard Davies, The Times (UK)

“Like much of today’s international cargo, Marc Levinson’s The Box arrives ‘just in time.’. . . It is a tribute to the box itself that far-off places matter so much to us now: It has eased trade, sped up delivery, lowered prices and widened the offering of goods everywhere. Not bad for something so simple and self-contained.”–Tim W. Ferguson, The Wall Street Journal

“[A] smart, engaging book. . . . Mr. Levinson makes a persuasive case that the container has been woefully underappreciated. . . . [T]he story he tells is that of a classic disruptive technology: the world worked in one fashion before the container came onto the scene, and in a completely different fashion after it took hold.”–Joe Nocera, The New York Times

“Mr Levinson. . . . makes a strong case that it was McLean’s thinking that led to modern-day containerisation. It altered the economics of shipping and with that the flow of world trade. Without the container, there would be no globalization.”–The Economist

Joseph Nye discussion at Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs

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Joseph Nye, author of Presidential Leadership and the Creation of the American Era, will speaking in the Merrill House at the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs. Discussion will revolved around the efficacy of different leadership styles that presidents have adopted. Which presidents ruled by a stronger ethical code? Were radical leaders more effectual in the end? Nye offers answers to these questions and more. The event will take place on THURSDAY, JUNE 6, 2013. The event is about an hour long. It begins at 8:00 AM and is scheduled to conclude at 9:15 AM.

Continental breakfast served at 8:00 AM. Presentations begin at 8:15 AM, followed by a question-and-answer session from 8:45 to 9:15 AM.

EVENT INFO:

(http://www.carnegiecouncil.org/calendar/data/0429.html)

During the 20th century, some American presidents tried to forge a new international order, while others sought to manage the country’s status. How did transformational presidents, like Wilson and Reagan, change how the U.S. sees the world? Were transactional presidents, like Eisenhower and the elder Bush, more effective and ethical?

Joseph S. Nye, Jr. is University Distinguished Service Professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. He is also the former dean of the Kennedy School.

Speaker: Joseph S. Nye, Jr.

Location

Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs
Merrill House
170 East 64th Street
New York, NY 10065-7478

(212) 838-4120
(212) 752-2432 – Fax

Map: Click Here (opens a new window)

Fees for all Public Affairs Programs:

Non-members: $25 per event
Free admission for subscribers. Seating is limited and advance reservations are required. To purchase a subscription, go to Membership.

Morning Public Affairs Programs
Continental breakfast served at 8:00 AM. Presentations begin at 8:15 AM, followed by a question-and-answer session from 8:45 to 9:15 AM.

Joseph Nye is endorsed by active scholars in the political field for his analysis of presidential leadership tactics:

http://press.princeton.edu/images/j9933.gif“A penetrating combination of scholarly analysis and brilliant historical appraisals. Daring in scope and incisive in judgments, this wise and very timely book redefines our understanding of recent presidential leadership.”–Zbigniew Brzezinski, author of Strategic Vision: America and the Crisis of Global Power

“In looking at presidential leadership and the sources of individual power, Nye fuses together his influential prior work on smart power and leadership. His book is written in an engaging and accessible style, and provides an excellent primer on what presidents can do in foreign policy.”–Daniel W. Drezner, author of Theories of International Politics and Zombies

Joseph Nye speaking at The Chicago Club

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http://www.thechicagocouncil.org/images/FY13_Event_Images/06_June/Nye_WEB.jpgJoseph Nye, author of Presidential Leadership and the Creation of the American Era, will speak and sign books at The Chicago Club on TUESDAY, JUNE 4, 2013. The host of the event will be The Chicago Council on Global Affairs. It begins at 5:30 PM with registration and cash bar reception. The event is set to conclude at 7:15 PM with book signings.

Business attire is required.

EVENT INFO:

(http://www.thechicagocouncil.org/Files/Event/FY13/06_June_13/Joseph_Nye_on_Creating_the_American_Era.aspx)

JOSEPH NYE ON CREATING THE AMERICAN ERA
Joseph S. Nye, Jr., Distinguished Service Professor, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University

As the late twentieth century’s unipolar moment fades, Joseph Nye argues that American power in this new era will be defined by both the forces of international politics and presidential leadership. Nye claims the problem of America’s role in the twenty-first century is not one of a poorly specified “decline,” but rather learning how to cooperate with others for mutual benefits. How will the United States face rising power resources of others—both state and nonstate actors? What is the importance of presidential leadership for the future of American primacy?

Joseph S. Nye Jr. is a distinguished service professor and former dean of the Kennedy School at Harvard University. He has served as assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs, chair of the National Intelligence Council, and deputy under secretary of state for security assistance, science, and technology. He is the author of Soft Power: The Means to Success in World Politics, Understanding International Conflict, The Power Game: A Washington Novel, The Powers to Lead, and The Future of Power. He received his AB from Princeton University, did postgraduate work at Oxford University on a Rhodes Scholarship, and earned a PhD from Harvard.

His latest book, Presidential Leadership and the Creation of the American Era, will be available for purchase and signing following the program.

Joseph Nye has received accolades for his analysis on presidential foreign policy decisions in Presidential Leadership and the Creation of the American Era:

http://press.princeton.edu/images/j9933.gif“In this concise and readable study, [...] Nye examines eight administrations, defined as ‘transformational’ or ‘transactional,’ and the diverse ways presidents communicate with and inspire the public. He also entices the historically minded with a ‘What if?’ section that speculates on historical alternatives and provides worthwhile reflections on the uneasy relationship between ethical leadership and effective leadership. Besides risking controversy, his ethical scorecards of presidents–including Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson–illustrate the complexity of such judgments. Nye’s overall assessment that the most dramatic and inspiring presidents are not always the most effective or ethical may, as he notes, overturn conventional wisdom, but the judgment bolsters his admonition to President Obama. His concluding reflections on the changing nature of exercising power in the 21st century effectively contextualize the continuing tensions inherent in managing domestic and international authority.”–Publishers Weekly

“Sometimes the best presidential decisions are decisions not to act. This point is made in an excellent new book by Joseph Nye of Harvard University entitled Presidential Leadership and the Creation of the American Era.”–Gideon Rachman, Financial Times

BOOK FACT FRIDAY – The Federal Reserve & Ben S. Bernanke

k9928“The Federal Reserve was founded 1914, and concerns about both macroeconomic stability and financial stability motivated the decision of Congress and President Woodrow Wilson to create it. After the Civil War and into the early 1900s, there was no central bank, so any kind of financial stability functions that could not be performed by the Treasury had to be done privately.” -Ben S. Bernanke, from chapter one of The Federal Reserve and the Financial Crisis

In 2012, Ben Bernanke, chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve, gave a series of lectures about the Federal Reserve and the 2008 financial crisis, as part of a course at George Washington University on the role of the Federal Reserve in the economy. In this unusual event, Bernanke revealed important background and insights into the central bank’s crucial actions during the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. Taken directly from these historic talks, The Federal Reserve and the Financial Crisis offers insight into the guiding principles behind the Fed’s activities and the lessons to be learned from its handling of recent economic challenges.

Ben S. Bernanke is chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve. He has served as chairman of the President’s Council of Economic Advisors and as a member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve. Before his time in public service he was a professor of economics at Princeton University. His many books include Essays on the Great Depression and Inflation Targeting (both Princeton).

The Federal Reserve and the Financial Crisis
by Ben S. Bernanke

We invite you to read chapter one online at: http://press.princeton.edu/chapters/s9928.pdf

Delbanco to Deliver Fribolin Lecture

Mark your calendars! Andrew Delbanco, author of College: What it Is, Was, and Should Be will deliver the 25th Annual Carl and Fanny Fribolin Lecture on Friday, May 3, at Keuka College in New York. The event is free and open to the public. Read more about the event below.

Andrew Delbanco to deliver Fribolin Lecture

Dr. Andrew Delbanco, recipient of the 2011 National Humanities Medal, will deliver the 25th Annual Carl and Fanny Fribolin Lecture Friday, May 3, at Keuka College.

r. Andrew Delbanco, recipient of the 2011 National Humanities Medal, will deliver the 25th Annual Carl and Fanny Fribolin Lecture Friday, May 3, at Keuka College.

One of the highlights of May Day Weekend, Delbanco will discuss “What is College For?” at 6:30 p.m. in Norton Chapel. It is free and open to the public.

The lecture series carries the names of Geneva resident Carl Fribolin, an emeritus member of the College’s Board of Trustees and recipient of an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree in 2004, and his late wife.

Delbanco is Mendelson Family Chair of American Studies and Julian Clarence Levi Professor in the Humanities at Columbia University. He was awarded the 2011 National Humanities Medal by President Barack Obama “for his writing that spans the literature of Melville and Emerson to contemporary issues in higher education.”

In 2001, he was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and named by Time Magazine as “America’s Best Social Critic.” In 2003, he was named New York State Scholar of the Year by the New York Council for the Humanities. In 2006, he received the “Great Teacher Award” from the Society of Columbia Graduates.

Delbanco is the author of many books, including, most recently, College: What it Was, Is, and Should Be, and The Abolitionist Imagination. Melville: His World and Work was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in Biography, and appeared on “best books” lists in the Washington Post, Independent (London), Dallas Morning News, and TLS. It was awarded the Lionel Trilling Award by Columbia University.

Delbanco’s essays appear regularly in The New York Review of Books, New Republic, New York Times Magazine, and other journals. His topics range from American literary and religious history to contemporary issues in higher education.

Delbanco has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. He was a member of the inaugural class of fellows at the New York Public Library Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers.