The Economics of Great Powers from Ancient Rome to Modern America


In this groundbreaking book, two economists explain why economic imbalances cause civil collapse— and why the United States could be next.

From the Ming Dynasty to Ottoman Turkey to imperial Spain, the Great Powers of the world emerged as the greatest economic, political, and military forces of their time—only to collapse into rubble and memory. What is at the root of their demise—and how can the United States stop this pattern from happening again?

A quarter century after Paul Kennedy’s The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers, Glenn Hubbard and Tim Kane present a bold, sweeping account of why powerful nations and civilizations break down under the heavy burden of economic imbalance. Introducing a profound new measure of economic power, Balance traces the triumphs and mistakes of imperial Britain, the paradox of superstate California, the long collapse of Rome, and the limits of the Japanese model of growth. Most importantly, Hubbard and Kane compare the twenty-first-century United States to the empires of old and challenge Americans to address the real problems of our country’s dysfunctional fiscal imbalance. If there is not a new economics and politics of balance, they show that there will be an inevitable demise ahead.
  • Simon & Schuster | 
  • 368 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781476700250 | 
  • May 2013
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About the Authors

Glenn Hubbard

Glenn Hubbard is the dean of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Business and the former chairman of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers. He is a frequent contributor to Business Week, The Wall Street Journal, and The New York Times, as well as PBS’s The Nightly Business Report and American Public Media’s Marketplace. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and two sons.

Tim Kane
Photograph by B. Vartan Boyajian/Hudson Institute

Tim Kane

Tim Kane is the chief economist of the Hudson Institute, veteran Air Force officer, and has twice served at the Joint Economic Committee of the US Congress. He regularly writes for The Atlantic, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and USA TODAY and is a well-known public speaker. He lives in northern Virginia with his wife and children.