Welcome to my website! I’m an economist, historian, and journalist with a long track record of writing and speaking about economic and business issues. My interests are wide-ranging, but I specialize in trade and economics, international finance and financial regulation, transportation, and energy. I’ve had the pleasure of speaking on these subjects to both academic and non-academic audiences in many countries. My book The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger, received many awards and was published in a second edition in 2016. The Economist Guide to Financial Markets, another book I wrote, has also been translated into many languages and is now in its sixth edition. The Great A&P and the Struggle for Small Business in America, which explores the fascinating history of government efforts to crack down on chain stores because their efficiency and low prices threatened independent retailers, won praise clear across the ideological spectrum, from The Wall Street Journal, which selected it as one of the ten best nonfiction books of 2011, to The New York Review of Books.
My latest project, An Extraordinary Time, takes an unusual look at the miserable decade of the 1970s. It shows how the end of the postwar boom, the quarter-century after 1948 when steady jobs were easy to find and living standards improved rapidly, left voters around the world angry with politicians who could no longer fulfill their promises of full employment and steady economic growth. In one country after another, the public mood turned against the welfare state, and leaders who promised to cut government down to size–Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan, Helmut Kohl, and others–were swept into power. But the conservatives proved no more successful in restoring rapid growth and full employment than the less market-oriented politicians they supplanted. The reason, I argue, is that the postwar miracle was an anomaly, made possible by circumstances that would not recur. Most of the time, economies grow slowly and living standards improve at a gradual place. Like it or not, that’s a situation political leaders can do surprisingly little to change.
The links will bring you to my biography, to information about my books, to some of my recent articles, and to my contact information.