I loved this book. Did I think a book about the recent financial crisis and markets in general, written by an economist, would be riveting? No - but (and don't laugh) this is. It held my attention better than most fiction, and clarified for me (a non-economist for sure) all the forces that led, step by step, to the economic meltdown and the mortgage crisis. I thought I understood, and I did, on a surface level, but after listening to this book I'm much better able to articulate what went wrong. In fact I'm going to start the book over from the beginning to really cement the information in my mind. The narrator is excellent by the way. Not every voice or delivery would have been appropriate to the subject, without being dull. I really recommend this audio recording.
The bulk of this book is a chronology of market booms and busts and the great minds that shaped our economic policies. As it approaches present day however, some scathing criticisms surface. Greenspan for being too hands off when he should have been alerted by red flags in subprime lending. Bernanke and Paulson are faulted mostly for not doing enough to support the financial markets and protect the large institutions, thus allaying fears in the heat of the crisis. Overall, a great listen and very insightful.
I wonder, if it really was the weakness of these individuals that facilitated the collapse then, what of all other nations of the world? Surely we’re not responsible for their failures as well? And why no mention of oil? I still remember the unsettling feeling as the price of gasoline encroached $5.00 a gallon and fear about the future of discretionary spending. This and other books on the present day failures seem to overlook the impact of fuel costs during the summer of 2008.
The author scores one for Obama’s socialist economic policies as the game winner. He ends in October of 2009 using that month to justify his argument. But that’s like going to bed after your team has just rallied, assuming they won the game. In retrospect August 2009 turned out to be nothing more then a sugar rush as the economy tired soon after. Now that we are further along in the game many people are dissatisfied with the ineffective policies that have been set forth and the amount of debt that has been amassed to fund them.
Finally, one day, after affixing my ear plug and turning on my MP3 player, my wife asked “What are you listening to?”
“A very good story that tells all about what happened during the crises and what led to the economic collapse.”
“You don’t need a stupid book to tell you about that, I can tell you what caused it.”
“Oh yeah” I said “what was it?”
The beauty of logic is its simplicity. Oh well it was a good history lesson!