Book Reviews

Book Reviews

Quick and Easy: The Origin and Meanings of Fast Food

“Professor Marcel Danesi investigates the cultural topic of fast food and offers the reader an engrossing narrative account of the history of food from prehistoric times to the present with a fascinating speculation about its future. Most readers are probably not consciously aware of the multiplicity of social and cultural meanings of food (edibility, utensils, meal times, table manners, etc.). This book provides intriguing answers to the customs associated with food and its preparation, and the rituals associated with its consumption.” – Frank Nuessel, University of Louisville, USA

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Some Quantitative Methods and Models in Economic Theory

“In this important and timely book, Alexander V. Prasolov illustrates how dynamically rich Lotka-Volterra equations offer diverse and economically useful dynamic behavior for a wide range of economic problems. Splitting the theory into linear and non-linear parts, the importance and viability of nonlinear dynamics is illustrated convincingly. Using time-delays with Lotka-Volterra equations, dynamic macroeconomic models, sources of fluctuations in economic activity, capital and manufacturing decision models, models of international trade, models of management and advertising problems as well as the forecasting models are examined with exceptionally outstanding detail and insight. Additionally, the author brings forward unique list of references from Russian academic literature not commonly known in the western academic circles. I highly recommend this book to the scholars and students of economic dynamics and finance to delve into the rich world of the nonlinear apparatus being put forward in this exquisitely crafted scientific jewel.” – Ramo Gençay, Department of Economics, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, Canada

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International Financial Institutions, Climate Change and the Urgency to Facilitate Clean Energy Investment in Developing and Emerging Market Economies

“Developing and emerging economies are rapidly approaching the technological frontier through various structural changes, and huge increases in their energy requirements are foreseeable. In his new book, Professor Hilmarsson is concerned with ways to minimize the likely environmental damage and offers sensible ideas about ways to encourage a large-scale transition to clean energy sources, in particular how best to stimulate investments in geothermal and hydropower projects. He makes a well-informed and convincing case that international financial institutions, including the World Bank Group, in partnership with the private sector, should scale up their efforts and co-ordinate investment in clean energy infrastructures. In spite of alarming reports, the practical response of international financial institutions to the environmental crisis is lukewarm. Hilmarsson makes a valuable contribution by mapping the way ahead.”
Professor Thráinn Eggertsson, Institute of Economic Studies, University of Iceland and Hertie School of Governance
Berlin, Germany

“In this book Professor Hilmarsson, a World Bank Group insider for 12 years, offers an interesting and well-informed analysis of international financial institutions (IFIs) and how they can help solve one of the world’s greatest problems – the transition to clean energy. Too often IFIs’ efforts are hampered by bureaucratic procedures that make them less effective and their clean energy portfolio in developing and emerging countries still remains small. In addition to funding and risk mitigation instruments, IFIs are particularly well placed to provide policy advice and technical assistance to governments implementing energy sector reform. This book is an important and timely contribution to the debate on clean energy and climate change.” – Professor Dr. Erika Sumilo, Head of the Department of International Economics and Business, University of Latvia

“The utilization of clean energy resources in developing and emerging countries is among key challenges humankind is currently facing. Professor Hilmarsson offers a well-informed analysis on how international financial institutions can contribute more effectively to the transition to clean energy — a critical component for success in the battle against climate change. This book is insightful and the analysis is sound as Professor Hilmarsson draws on his experience from the World Bank for 12 years in three different continents.” – Professor Ligita Šimanskienė, Klaipėda University, Lithuania

“Clean energy investments, including geothermal and hydropower projects, tend to be large, with long repayment periods and often require cooperation between public, private and donor partners in emerging countries. Professor Hilmarsson shows how the funding and risk mitigation products of international financial institutions can be instrumental in mobilizing funds to make clean energy investments both possible and feasible. This is an important topic as vast clean energy sources still remain underutilized in emerging countries during a time of growing energy demand. Professor Hilmarsson also discusses Iceland’s transition to clean energy from which other countries may draw some valuable lessons. This is an important contribution that deserves attention and debate.” – Professor Anatoliy G. Goncharuk, Head of the Department of Business Administration and Corporate Security, International Humanitarian University, Ukraine

“As Professor Hilmarsson highlights in this book, no institution supports cross border investments in a similar way that the World Trade Organization does for cross border trade. This failure traces its roots all the way back to the Bretton Woods conference and is an impediment for clean energy investments, especially in developing and emerging countries, during a time of great need for a transition to clean energy sources. In this book Professor Hilmarsson shows how international financial institutions can more effectively support clean energy investments in a world challenged by climate change. A timely contribution and an enjoyable read.” – Dr. Sujit Kumar, Research Scholar, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, and Assistant Professor, Sri Venkateswara College, University of Delhi, India

“In the context of increasing concerns on climate problems, clean energy has been suggested to be safe, environmental-friendly, and energy-efficient. Investment in energy infrastructure will be enormous in the future, especially in emerging market economies including in East Asia. While it is crucial that energy infrastructure be climate friendly and that environmental issues should be well considered, financing such infrastructure remains a challenge. Nonetheless, this new book of Professor Hilmarsson has identified and discussed potential solutions to help support and promote clean energy investment and increase the use of clean energy sources that are available on earth.” – Trung Quang Dinh M.Sc. in International Business and Pd.D. Candidate at Witten/Herdecke University

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Economic Crises: Risk Factors, Management Practices and Social Impacts

“The book consists of eight chapters in which both theoretical and practical studies, which introduce countries as case studies, come into place. In the first part the author, Christina Calvo Porral, deals with a very interesting issue. She analyses the practical effect of crises on marketing strategy. She examines whether crises influence applied marketing methods to any extent at all. The starting point for research is the change of consumer behaviour experienced during the crisis. The author identifies those factors to which consumers respond sensitively (prices, discounts, and brands) through an economic fall-back. The answer to the main question of whether marketing strategies have to be changed is obviously yes.

In the second chapter the author, Eva Kiss, analyses the impact of crises on corporations. The writer of the study emphasizes intervening changes in the Hungarian industrial environment, in the structure of companies and in their economic activity on the one hand, while on the other hand, she analyses crisis management techniques adopted by companies, finally she introduces their aggregate effect on these branches of industry. The basic assumption is that in the Hungarian economy and within the industry, economic decline did not shape a classical V-letter, but it was W-shaped, which is becoming more common in a new age. Therefore deterioration which was experienced by companies was bigger compared to previous fall-backs. The author concludes that those companies which are exposed to the changes of the world economy in a  bigger scale (which are closer to the global economy) were felt almost immediately. She draws attention to the fact that diversification of the Hungarian industry must be strengthened, while the dependency should be weakened, in order to be not so sensitive to similar crises in the future.

The third chapter leads us from economic impact to social consequence of crises. The authors (Katja Rasic, Matjaz Mulej and Vesna Cancer) examine four main questions – the effect of technological research, innovation and knowledge on economic growth and the relationship between economic growth and quality of life. After the normalization of variables, they establish the relation among them with Pearson-correlation analysis, and then, in order to determine the concrete effect, they did regression-analysis. The authors came to the conclusion that technological research, innovation and knowledge influence significantly economic growth and growth has a positive impact on quality of life, at least in the Slovakian case. In point of fact, in order to determine the quality of life, the gross domestic products as an indicator has to be expanded with other variables like environmental components, human factor and health condition which were created by authors.

In Chapter 4, the authors (Melissa Morone, Gabriele Giorgi and Javier Fiz Pérez) approach the effect of crisis from a social side. They examine its consequences and the crisis related attitudes of employers and employees. Writers investigate stress situations caused by economic crisis, and the answers, reactions given to them and their relations to each other. From the side of employees, special emphasis is placed on fear as a negative emotional factor which causes the loss of confidence, frustration, and unquietness and increases the possibility of developing mental problems (authors regard it as hot reaction). Approaching this topic from the other side, however crisis improves the quality of work because employees do not want to lose their workplaces, therefore they attempt to do better quality and more efficient work which is a positive change from the aspect of employers (this is referred to as cold reaction). After the analyzation of 2008’s crisis they determined that hot reactions dominated and the health conditions of employees deteriorated unequivocally which was related to stress.

The fifth chapter approaches the social problems caused by crises from the aspect of psychology. Authors (Marco Innamorati, Maurizio Pompili, David Lester and Bijou Yang) analyse the relationship between suicide and economic crises with the assumption that there is no clear connection between the changes of economic processes and the number of suicides. Although, more studies refer to the dangerous consequences of both economic decline and economic growth.

A similar topic is unfolded on the Spanish example in the sixth chapter. Authors, A. I. Masedo Gutiérrez and B. Moreno-Küstner, examine the effect of economic crises on mental health. Spain struggles with serious economic and social problems because of the crisis which evolved in 2008. Unemployment and decreasing incomes of households put huge pressure on population. In the European Union, examination of poverty is not confined to minimum level of subsistence and to proportion of people who live below the poverty line but the organization determine the number of indulgent with deprivation survey. Based on this, authors established that the ratio of population who is threatened by both deprivation and serious deprivation is increased and the same time the ratio of those people who live under poverty line and minimum level of subsistence as well. The regeneration is almost insignificant. Consequently the mental health of society is continuously deteriorating and the number of antidepressant users is increasing, similarly to the number of drug users. In spite that this statement is regarded as a fact in Spain only few study was written about suggestions in order to eliminate or at least handle the problem. Therefore, authors make proposal about solution in the final part of the chapter.

The authors, Oznur Ozdamar and Eleftherious Giovanis, in the seventh chapter examine two main research questions. On the one part they study the impact of law on Austrian Health Fund, on the other part writhers examine the impact of the 2008’s crisis on the economy of vulnerable countries (like Hungary, Italy, France, Spain and Portugal) and they compare them with such countries which have similar characteristics but were less effected by crisis like the Polish or Czech one. The focus of investigation is on health, living conditions and quality of life. The base of the research is a European questionary which analysed the health conditions, aging and pension situation in European countries between 2004 and 2012. With Differences-in-Differences model they analyse the effect of crisis on mental health and living conditions. Related to the first research question, which examined the law about the Austrian Health Fund, they determined that the Fund provides protection in the maintenance of living conditions and quality of life, furthermore it helps to keep up mental health and improvement on affected areas can be clearly detectable after the law was issued. While in the case of other countries in the course of the analysis of both quality of life and living conditions deterioration could be obviously seen because of the crisis. Through the authors’ research, it has been established that the possibility of better living conditions, healthier life and better quality of life decreased among well-educated people.

In the 8th and last chapter we leave the European framework and we get an insight to Madagascar’s economic process and we get to know with the effect of the crisis on society. Author, Michel Garenne, goes back to 1960s with long-term analyses and investigate the connection among social, demographical, health situation and political, economic crisis. She establishes that before the revolution of 1973 the country was above the African average based on economic indicators but after it was an obvious deterioration. Political crisis resulted decreasing social and demographical indicators. At the same time, the population increased during the analysed period.

The diversity of chapters provides insight into those regions and economic peripheries which does not fit into mainstream literature. The book approaches the effect of crisis on society from a new aspect. I recommend this book to those who are interested in economic crises and their impact on society and would like to get information about the consequences of economic decline in different geographical regions.” – Nedelka Erzsébet – tanársegéd, Soproni Egyetem Lámfalussy Sándor Közgazdaságtudományi Kar

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Slovenia: Social, Economic and Environmental Issues

“For anyone interested in the recent politics of Slovenia, this interdisciplinary volume is an excellent introduction. Frane Adam should be praised for bringing together such a high profile and respected group of authors. For a relatively new country, this volume highlights the challenges presented by globalization, EU membership and the impact of the financial crisis of 2012/13 on the political and socio-economic institutions of Slovenia. The focus on legal, economic and environmental issues provides many fascinating insights into the contemporary debates within an important country in the region. It is thus of interest to readers with an interest in Central Europe and the Western Balkans but also for those people interested in how a country has managed a transition to independence whilst at the same time managing the demands of EU membership and subsequently a major economic crisis. This volume highlights to what extent and at what cost Slovenia has managed these transitions.” – Simon Lightfoot, PhD, Senior Lecturer in European Politics, University of Leeds, UK

“This is an interesting and rich volume on nowadays Slovenia, a small, newly independent country with a Slavic ethic majority of the somewhat more than two million inhabitants. Slovenia was a relative poor region of Austria-Hungary until 1918, but then became the richest part of newly established Yugoslavia until 1991. As an independent country, it is far the richest among the transforming countries in Eastern Europe. Its per capita GDP is much higher than any other former communist countries and reached 91 percent of the EU’s average before the crisis.” READ MORE…Ivan T. Berend, Distinguished Research Professor, University of California Los Angeles

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The Eurozone Enlargement: Prospect of the New EU Member States for Euro Adoption

“This volume is as a result of international intellectual endeavours aimed to review the experiences of the New Member States (NMS) which adopted the Euro (EMU members too) and which are non-euro members. The international research consortium is composed of leading scholars from various Japanese universities and from similar institutions in the NMS (Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia). The authors represent a variety of approaches which are helping to better understand both the expectations and real experiences with the Euro in these countries. Particular intellectual strength of this book is the following: the contributors’ ambition is to look beyond the narrow monetary policy of the EU (e.g. financial disequilibrium, etc.) and focus on the difficulties of the real economy (i.e. macroeconomic stability, industrial policy, etc.) In this respect it is worth to stress the concluding remark of the editor: “In order to promote the economic development in EU periphery including NMS, wisdom which should replace austerity measures is urgently required. Without this, the Euro adoption by non-euro NMS will not make substantial progress.” This book is essential reading for students, policy-makers, journalists, academics or anyone with an interest in the ongoing changes and the related tensions within the European Union.” – Dr. Mako Csaba, Institute of Sociology, Centre for Social Sciences, Hungarian Academy of Sciences

“The book gives a comprehensive outlook on prospects of the new EU member states for Euro adoption. The Eurozone debt crisis has created hesitations on further enlargement of the Euro area, even if all the EU members (excluding the opt out -countries United Kingdom and Denmark) are basically supposed to join the Euro. New member states have different approaches to the issue: five of them have already adopted the Euro and some hope to join soon, but many prefer a wait and see strategy. Austerity measures used in resolving the debt crisis discourage new member states to join. The book is about a fundamental issue of the European integration process: is the EU capable in holding the principles of the Economic and Monetary Union in the future.” – Paavo Okko, Professor emeritus of Economics at Turku School of Economics at University of Turku

“Narratives of the financial histories of different countries around the world – be it small or large – contribute to the refinement of existing economic theories. This important book focuses on a highly topical issue of the enlarged European Union: the variety of approaches to the monetary integration of countries being on different levels of economic and institutional development and having different political tastes concerning the European idea. It is a collection of well-told stories about the sinking optimism and increased cautiousness of some CEEs and the eagerness of others on their long way to the Euro-zone.” – Károly Fazekas, General Director, Center of Economic and Regional Science, Budapest, Hungary

“The book „Eurozone Enlargement: the Prospect of New EU Member States for Euro Adoption” is a comprehensive resource for all with an informational and research interest in the field of European integration. Especially in recent years, when Europe has been experiencing multi-dimensional crises – from finance to refugees – it is more than usually important to understand the integration phenomenon, and this book assists the reader´s effort to do so. The book initially explores current financial situations and EMU evolutions, an apposite entry to its theme. Subsequently, it brings detailed information about the adoption of the euro in Slovenia, the Slovak Republic and Latvia- comparing the periods before and after euro adoption. It is also a valuable source on the preparations for euro adoption of other Central and Eastern European countries, i.e. the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, Rumania, Bulgaria and Croatia, which vary in their closeness to or distance from euro adoption. This book is recommended for all seeking to understand the processes behind European integration and to analyse the proc and cons of Europe´s great currency project.” – Professor Lubos Komarek, Director of Monetary and Statistics Department, External Economic Relations Division, the Czech National Bank and Professor at Technical University of Ostrava

“This book considers problems of a prospect of the Eurozone enlargement of the CEE countries. Reviewing experiences of the five countries which adopted the euro, authors consider ways and means for other CEE countries to enter the Eurozone. As they looked at the Greek crisis and the other southern European crises, their analyses lead to a recommendation to adopt real convergence criteria such as GDP per capita, instead of the Maastricht nominal criteria. So far we have concentrated our attention on the Eurozone inside only. This book is very useful to expand our eyesight and stimulates our thinking of the future of the Eurozone in the next decade.” – Professor SOKO TANAKA, Jean Monnet chair ad personam, former President of the Japan Society of International Economics and former President of the European Union Studies Association – Japan

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Behavioral Economics: Trends, Perspectives and Challenges

“This thoughtfully written book may be one of the most valuable resources regarding Behavioral Economics you discover this year. A riveting read, highly cohesive and observing.” – Tansif ur Rehman, Area Study Centre for Europe, University of Karachi, Karachi, Pakistan

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Towards a Society with a More Fair Economy or an Economy with a More Social Face: The Contribution of Scientific Social Knowledge to the Alternative Models of Socioeconomic Development

“Addressing major challenges in advanced and developing economies and exploring full potential in terms of development, requires a multidimensional and operational approach regarding analysis and policy design. It is highlighted that development is a much broader notion than growth incorporating apart from the economic dimension of development the social and political pillar.” READ MORE…Reviewed by Manuel Alberto M. Ferreira, Lisbon University Institute ISCTE-IUL, BRU-IUL, ISTAR-IUL Portugal. Published in the International Journal of Latest Trends in Finance and Economic Sciences

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Challenges and Opportunities for Eurozone Governance

“This book, written by most excellent scientists and edited by José Manuel Caetano and Miguel Rocha de Sousa stands out in the bulk of publications on the Eurozone because of its unique feature. Contrary to pure and simple economics this book grasps in a most splendid way the interdependency between the economic performance and political decision making in the aftermath of 2008. It is not only economics, stupid, but also politics which matters.” – Michael Bolle, Director, Jean Monnet Center of Excellence for European Integration, Free University of Berlin, Germany

“This book edited by José Manuel Caetano and Miguel Rocha de Sousa, is written out of a concern of the different authors to improve the governance of the Eurozone. It contains important chapters identifying the weaknesses of the Eurozone and the reforms of its governance that will make it sustainable in the long run. This is a book I highly recommend for students, academics and policymakers in Europe.” – Paul De Grauwe, “John Paulson Chair” in European Political Economy, European Institute, London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)

“Much of the debate about the Eurozone crisis has been dominated by viewpoints from the Institutions and the larger countries. We have heard very little from the smaller countries that were at the center of the cyclone. It is fortunate that this book brings together contributions by (mostly) Portuguese scholars. They are economists and political scientists and they have much to tell. The readers will discover the extent of suffering that the crisis has brought to Portugal. Economic activity plummeted, unemployment soared, firms collapsed, of course, but these contributions also vividly depicts the frustrations from the ‘solutions’ that were imposed by the Troika.” – Charles Wyplosz, Professor of Economics, The Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva; Director, International Center for Monetary and Banking Studies, Geneva

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Overshooting the Maastricht Criteria: External Imbalances and Income Convergence in the European Union

“The proposed monograph gives state of the art analysis of the economic growth in the EU-countries and by investigating a link between long-run economic growth and short-term economic imbalances fills an important gap in our understanding of economic behaviour of both developed and developing countries. Therefore, I r e c o m m e n d his monograph for publication.” – Dr. Daniel Dujava

“A lot of empirical evidence presented in the book is a valuable material for both theoretical economists and academia as well as for policymakers that are open to empirical evidence and evidence-based policy making. The author analyses policy dilemmas that policy makers have to face in these days. Overall, Dr. Menbere Workie Tiruneh has conducted a valuable research on external imbalances and income convergence in the European Union and I r e c o m m e n d this book for a publication.” – Dr. Martin Labaj

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