Excellent overview of the current financial crisis, which ain't over yet, alas. The author's viewpoint is moderately liberal, somewhat pessimistic but quite judicious and knowledgeable, not given to leftist screed or Chicago School boosterism. As of this writing, the book is also surprisingly current. In the later chapters the acronyms of the credit default swaps and all those new whirligig financial instruments fly by, but you get the idea. It's confusing because it was indeed confusing, even to bankers. Which was part of the problem. You will especially enjoy this book if, like me, you read Greenspan's book and were horrified to hear the man in charge of our monetary machine enthuse over Ayn Rand and gush like a neocon junior staffer over the magic power of markets. Well, we are all neck deep in the "magic of markets" now and will be digging ourselves out for years. Oh, be advised this book is general, in the best sense. More forest than trees. Not a book of details, inside stories, or personalities, which is fine by me. Hope Audible will get more on this topic.
Sorry, but I must take issue with the positive reviews. First, I would rather see the original "Empire of Debt" offered in audio. This is a scenario taken from the documentary. It is a worthy topic and all involved are to be praised for their efforts. But it adds up to sketchy primer on our abysmal debt problems. Worse, the audio makes every effort to be bipartisan by seeking a midpoint between extremes. This is like inviting Bin Laden to help with our security planning.
The audio makes no mention of the "Starve the Beast" doctrine administered by Reagan, Bush, Cheney, and the Norquist radical libertarians. It is now indisputable that running up deficits in an effort to break the U.S. entitlement programs has been one of the GOP-right's only ideologically consistent policies.
Since the days of FDR a radical contingent in the U.S. has regarded Social Security and Medicare as an outright theft of private capital. This cadre favors massive debt, which has the long-term effect of collapsing and privatizing government functions. This political wing of the GOP is personally and financially unaffected by such a collapse. Indeed, they may benefit from it by shorting the dollar, etc. Nor do they personally rely on most government services, apart from the military, law enforcement, and international trade contracts.
It is a tragic error for well-meaning pundits today to make the mistake of assuming "we" are a "nation" with a unified set of interests. Americans must begin to view fiscal policy in terms of economic class instead of nationality if we want a clear view of the choices.
We are not "all in this together." The honorable attempt to remain bipartisan had been outmoded by those powerful interests who benefit by running the nation into default. I am accordingly forced to withhold a positive rating.
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