W. Michael Cox is the creator and coauthor of the book Myths of Rich and Poor: Why We’re Better Off Than We Think. This 1999 book, nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, has been widely praised by the economics profession and the media.
From Library Journal
Cox, a vice president and economic adviser to the Federal Reserve Bank in Dallas, and Alm, a business reporter for the Dallas Morning News, have written a remarkable book that uses government facts and figures to counter the pessimism regarding the performance of the U.S. economy over the last 25 years. Of particular note are their debunkings of 12 commonly accepted myths about jobs, income, and living standards; their comments regarding the impact of technology on existing jobs and the economy; their observations about income inequality, the individual nature of opportunity, the trade deficit, layoffs, and downsizing; and their prescription for keeping the U.S. economic system humming. A controversial mix that should entice readers in both academic and public libraries. Norman B. Hutcherson, Kern Cty. Lib., Bakersfield, CA?Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Kirkus Reviews
Cox, a Federal Reserve economist and adviser to the CATO institute, presents, with Dallas Morning News business reporter Alm, an aggressively rosy report on the nation’s economy. I’m all right, Jack, and so are you, they say. Forget eroding living standards, foreign competition, rapacious CEOs, hedge fund crashes and endemic downsizing. Times, on the whole, have never been better, say the authors, and to prove it they offer a plenitude of charts, tables, statistics and figures. It is in the nature of capitalism that there are occasional disruptions such as corporate downsizing which they call churning, but this is still the best economic system, they claim: “Layoffs aren’t a sign of failure, not for the economy, not even for most workers.” Layoffs take place beside job creation. That a midlevel manager fired from AT&T might, with luck, finally end up as a low-level associate at Wal-Mart is part of the churn, not part of “the hard numbers that define broad trends, averages, medians, per capita figures and rates of change.” Good times, the numbers say, are here. We have more money than ever. We spend more for stuff (like VCRs, health care, and stealth bombers) and we spend more time at leisure. In the triumph of capitalism, minorities and women are doing better, too. As we change from a labor to a service economy, technology is improving life faster than ever. Don’t mess with success, the authors say. Just protect property rights, keep taxes low, and eschew more regulation. There are, though, some unasked questions. Yesterday Standard Oil had to be dismembered; would a merger of Exxon and Mobil be a good thing today? Will the next decades be like the past 20 years or is something fundamental changing? Never mind. Just look at the numbers. Pangloss and Pollyanna tackle what Carlyle once called “the Dismal Science” in a polemic sure to attract dissent. — Copyright ©1998, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
“Myths of Rich and Poor gets behind the statistics reported on the evening news and quoted during Perot’s infomercials to tell the true story of the American economy.” — Franklin Harris, Decatur Daily, AL, march 7, 1999
“Myths of Rich & Poor shoots down innumerable examples of economic nonsense that prevail in the media and in politics. Its authors, W. Michael Cox and Richard Alm, deserve a medal for bringing some sanity to a subject where insanity is the norm.” — Thomas Sowell, New York Post, February 3, 1999
“The Myths of Rich and Poor is a clear-eyed, dispassionate analysis of what’s good about today and why we should be optimistic about tomorrow. Cox and Alm neatly dissect the myths of the handwringing pessimists who would turn to government before understanding reality.” — Edward H. Crane, President, CATO Institute
“The Myths of Rich and Poor is a fantastic volume. Michael Cox and Rick Alm challenge the Chicken Littles of the world to consider, for a change, the facts. The sky (of opportunities) is not falling at all. Indeed, it is rising.”— Richard B. McKenzie, Author, The Paradox of Progress; Professor, University of California at Irvine
“A superb book! With facts, figures, and logic, Cox and Alm deliver a knockout blow to the prophets of American decline on both right and left.” — Robert Poole, President, Reason Foundation
“Cox and Alm show conclusively that the merchants of doom and gloom are not just wrong, but spectacularly wrong. You really are better off than your parents, and your children will be better off than you.” —Dwight R. Lee, Ramsey Professor of Economics, University of Georgia
“It is refreshing to read a positive account of market activity which so clearly demonstrates how free markets effectively promote the general welfare and sustain human dignity.” — Rev. Robert A. Sirico, President, Acton Institute
“Michael Cox and Richard Alm challenge the conventional wisdom that says we can no longer look forward to a rising standard of living. Using credible data and clear exposition, they make a compelling case that economic dynamism continues to create ever-greater opportunity and prosperity for Americans of all income levels. No honest discussion of the American economy can ignore this book.”— Virginia Postrel, editor, Reason magazine; author, The Future and Its Enemies
“This is not a conservative book or a liberal book: it’s the best account I’ve seen of the real state of the American economy. Times are good–better than they’ve ever been before–and if we want to understand how to keep them that way we could not do better than to heed what Cox and Alm have to say.” — Lawrence Kudlow, author, American Abundance
…timely, important and refreshing. — The Wall Street Journal, David R. Henderson
Not since Atlas Shrugged has there been as spirited a take on free enterprise as … Myths of Rich & Poor: Why We’re Better Off Than We Think… — Wired
They have a story to tell, and an amazing mastery of arcane economic statistics. But the effect is blunted by their reluctance to concede any possible problems. — The New York Times Book Review, Floyd Norris
Focuses on the American economy and the billions of data points that define it. Discusses economic forces at work. Reveals that the American Growth Machine continues to deliver what we want and many of suggested remedies to problems that don’t exist will leave us worse off.
About the Author
W. Michael Cox is senior vice president and chief economist of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. He has written for The New York Times and was interviewed in Wired magazine; his annual reports for the Federal Reserve Bank are often controversial and receive nationwide publicity. Richard Alm is a business reporter with the Dallas Morning News.