Direct: The Rise of the Middleman Economy and the Power of Going to the Source
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What We're Saying
Kathryn Judge's new book shows the benefits and costs of the modern middleman economy, giving us a clear picture of how it functions, how we can make it function better for all of us, and reconnect to one another in the process. READ FULL DESCRIPTION
A Columbia Law School professor explains how middlemen have taken control of the economy, how they enrich themselves at the expense of consumers, the environment and workers, and how people can harness the power of direct exchange to make themselves happier and the planet healthier. READ FULL DESCRIPTION
It seems like each and every category of our awards has elements of Current Events & Public Affairs percolating within them, but that doesn't negate the need for a dedicated category. These are the five best books in that space this year. READ FULL DESCRIPTION
Finance expert, law professor, and fellow overwhelmed consumer Kathryn Judge investigates the surprising ways that middlemen have taken control of the economy at the expense of the rest of us, and provides practical guidance about how to regain control, find more meaning, and contribute to a more sustainable economy.
Over the past thirty years, middlemen have built intricate financial and retail empires capable of moving goods across the country and around the world--transforming the economy and our lives. Because of middlemen, we enjoy an unprecedented degree of choice and convenience. But the rise of the middleman economy comes at a steep price.
In Direct, Columbia law professor Kathryn Judge shows how overgrown middlemen became the backbone of modern capitalism and the cause of many of its ailments. Middlemen today shape what people do, how they invest, and what they consume. They use their troves of data to push people to buy more, and more expensive, products. They use their massive profits and expertise to lobby lawmakers, tilting the playing field in their favor. Drawing on a decade of research, Judge shows how to fight back: Go to the source.
The process of direct exchange--and the resulting ecosystem of makers and consumers, investors and entrepreneurs--fosters connection and community and helps promote a more just, resilient, and accountable economic system. Direct exchange reminds us that our actions always and inevitably impact others, as it rekindles an appreciation of our inherent interconnectedness. As Judge reveals in this much-needed book, direct exchange is both the cornerstone of the solution and a tool for revealing just how much is at stake in decisions about "through whom" to buy, invest and give.