Skip to Main Content
Header image

5 fast questions with economist Jeff Rubin

By Kobo • September 25, 2020Author Interviews

In his new book, The Expendables: How the Middle Class got Screwed by Globalization, former CIBC World Markets Chief Economist Jeff Rubin upends the idea of a win-win flat world. We asked him about the books in his life now and what's on his to-read pile.

What are you reading now?

Ages of Discord by Peter Turchin. A fascinating book that applies structural demographic analysis to class conflict and the role of the elites in American history. It has obvious parallels with my book, but approaches the issues from a slightly different perspective.

For work or for pleasure?

My work is my pleasure.

Is there a book you love that readers of your work might by surprised by?

I found Jeffry Frieden's classic Global Capitalism: Its Fall and Rise in the Twentieth Century a real eye opener. Never realized the sense of déjà vu from globalization’s first rodeo – from the repeal of the British Corn Laws to World War 1. And the fallout from the collapse of globalization following World War 1 is sobering to say the least.

What’s a book you’ve meant to read for a long time that you still haven’t gotten to?

I’ve always meant to read Michael Lewis’ The Big Short but haven’t gotten around to it -- although I feel l lived through it since I was the Chief Economist at CIBC World Markets at the time. I can’t help but wonder if taxpayers are once again going to be left with the bill from the bailout from the COVID-19 pandemic, just as they were from the bailout of Wall Street after the global financial crisis a little over a decade ago.

There was a time that the ranks of nonfiction bestseller lists swelled with books about how globalization would fix everything. If you could go back in time and make one of those books vanish completely which would you pick?

Well certainly Thomas Friedman’s The World Is Flat which won the Financial Times Goldman Sachs Book of the year in 2005 has to rank up there. But to be fair, many of globalization’s earlier apostles including former US Treasury Secretary Larry Summers and Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman have had to change their tune as well.

The Expendables by Jeff Rubin

Growing global inequality is a problem of our own making, Rubin argues. And solving it won't be easy if we draw on the same ideas about capital and labour, right and left, that led us to this cliff. Articulating a vision that dovetails with the ideas of both Naomi Klein and Donald Trump, The Expendables is an exhilaratingly fresh perspective that is at once humane and irascible, fearless and rigorous, and most importantly, timely. GDP is growing, the stock market is up and unemployment is down, but the surprise of the book is that even the good news is good for only one percent of us.

View Book

For more interviews with authors about the books they write and the books they love, subscribe to the Kobo in Conversation podcast on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, or wherever you listen.

Follow us at @kobobooks on Instagram

If you would like to be the first to know about bookish blogs, please subscribe. We promise to provided only relevant articles.