A coruscating, brilliantly insightful exegesis of where capitalism went wrong, how it was corrupted, and how it might be restored, by outspoken former Reagan budget director and best-selling author David Stockman.
David Stockman was the architect of the Reagan Revolution that was meant to restore sound money principles to the United States government. It failed, derailed by politics, special interests, welfare, and warfare. In The Great Deformation, Stockman describes how the working of free markets and democracy has long been under threat in America and provides a surprising, nonpartisan catalog of the corrupters and defenders. His analysis overturns the assumptions of Keynesians and monetarists alike, showing how both liberal and neoconservative interference in markets has proved damaging and often dangerous. Over time, crony capitalism has made fools of us all, transforming Republican treasury secretaries into big-government interventionists and populist Democrat presidents into industry-wrecking internationalists. Today’s national debt stands at nearly $16 trillion. Divided equally among taxpayers, each of us is $52,000 in debt. This book explains how we got here—and why this warped crony capitalism has betrayed so many of our hopes and dreams.
©2013 David A. Stockman (P)2013 Blackstone Audio, Inc
"Stockman performs a real service when he debunks the myths that have been associated with Reagan’s conservatism and promotes Eisenhower’s fiscal and military conservatism…Stockman forcefully conveys enormous amounts of knowledge." (Kirkus Reviews)
I focus on fiction, sci-fi, fantasy, science, history, politics and read a lot. I try to review everything I read.
This is an excellently supported book that goes into extraordinary detail of the US economy from the period leading up to the great depression to the present. This is not a quick or easy listen. The author may be an expert in economics but he is not an expert writer. The book is very long and filled with annoying mixed metaphors (that are sometimes so bad they are funny), cliches repeated ad nauseam, and jumps wildly between temporally distant causes and effects and from one subject to another. Thus I can’t say this was a pleasure of a listen. Nevertheless the author makes quite a few really excellent points. The author shows extreme political independence casting blame and praise regardless of party. The book is also quite a downer, filled with doom and gloom with almost no way out. This book is filled with facts and statistics that are key to understanding our economic past and future. I did not agree with everything the author proposes (the gold standard), but I was surprised by how much I found quite convincing. Clearly this tomb is not for everyone. This is more than a bit dry and detailed oriented, yet I found it a very rational alternative view of modern economics,
I'm only about 1/2 way through this audiobook but wanted to write a review anyways.
From the start of this book I was highly engaged even though it is filled with more data, stats, and numbers than I could realistically consume. It was very eye opening and even though it does jump a round quite a bit, its like a history lesson told from financial side of things. It gives you a new perspective on government, politics, and political figures. Money changes everything.
I actually feel like everyone should listen to this book. Even though quite a bit goes over my head, and there is so much information to consume, there are parts that will really stand out to you. You'll gain an understanding of how our financial system works, and fails... and might open your eyes to the future. Highly recommended.
I could not wait for 36 hours to rebut the 1 star review, so after 1 hour of listening I give this book the highest marks for content and production. Finally someone who understands both Government and finance lays out in understandable and chronological order how crony capitalism, an unchecked FED and bigger and bigger government is destroying free market capitalism and prosperity in this country.
This is a difficult book to read for 2 reasons.
First, Stockman builds a solid narrative of successive short-sighted political decisions that led to terrible repercussions for democracy and the US economy. Starting with Roosevelt on through Obama, each president made choices that deformed normal economic mechanisms. His criticisms are not really partisan, as he bashes Nixon and Bush as much as Democrats. The examples he uses are numerous, devastating, and often mind-numbing in detail. The conclusions and predictions are very pessimistic.
The second reason the book is difficult is because Stockman is a really bad writer. Seemingly everything "grows like Topsy." Thousands of things are said that are "needless to say." Things "literally explode" that are not pyrotechnic. The countless cliches and a rather tedious sentence structure make the reading unpleasant. That a businessman like Stockman is not a prose stylist is not much of a fault, but why didn't the publisher have the book edited by someone fluent in English?
The style of writing is extremely annoying. It's hard enough to follow an audiobook that is full of statistics and dates, followed by names and positions; but Stockman makes it even more difficult by showcasing his capacious and abstruse vocabulary (if those don't ring a bell for you...then this book probably isn't for you). He frequently uses rarely used and technical language followed by something akin to a pop-culture reference. It causes the listener to have to rewind and re-listen to portions again and again. In addition, I got tired of hearing the constant hyperbole in virtually every chapter. I realize that costly mistakes were made by men in power in the past, but not every mistake can be a "monumental blunder of epic proportions". While I did find much of the information useful, and I was thankful for the thorough explanation of the topics discussed, I would probably have preferred a book with less discussion about the Great Depression in favor of a book that focused on more recent history. 30+ hours is a very long book. The narrator does an excellent job in my opinion, but the content is just not at the same level.
Abu Dhabi, UAE
Not read print version so no basis for comparison.
Efficient and comprehensive coverage of a vast topic.
No I have not.
It's all in here!
First, I have to say it's a bit long and David repeats himself a couple of times. But the description of political processes and why things happened in the 60's, 70's, 80's, 90's and now is instrumental in understanding what the issues are, why we face them, and how to change so this country can survive.
You can't possibly understand the complexity of the political issues and financial troubles we have, until you read or listen to this book.
Great job David!
Mr. Stockman certainly has the credentials to back up his thesis, and the message is an important one for our times. Not only was he a member of President Reagan's Office of Management and Budget, he spent many years working in the world of banking and finance, and actually ran a real, decently sized business for several years.
However his writing style leaves something to be desired. He tends to overuse superlative and hyperbole, and some of his images and analogies are obscure. There are far too many adjectives -- the book could probably have been reduced by 25% without affecting the message, just by getting rid of the extra words.
Another difficulty that the listener may experience is that the timelines tend to be convoluted. A recent train of events is related and then the story jumps back to the early 20th century to fill in historical background and identify the causes which let to the recent events. I am not sure that the story could have been told better in a different way, however: it is a very complex subject and he covers it in detail.
This book is definitely important if one wishes to understand how the US economy got into its current situation.
If you have any interest in what is going on in the United States economically, and why things are not working out as the "talking heads" from the Obama Administration to CNBC keep promising us they are, then you need to listen to this book.
We know something is wrong. And it is not as simple as Democrats versus Republicans.
Chapters 32 and beyond tie up all the loose strings and takes a look at where we are today, why things are worse than we believe, and what, if anything can be done to change our direction.
Not to be pessimistic, but it will take a seismic shift to change things for the United States, and that shift will not be painless.
But it will be less painful that what we have coming if we just do nothing.
I have been a student of the economy for many decades. But I was never able to tie the role of government malfeasance together with what was happening beyond the last one or two administrations.
Stockman makes it perfectly clear. This is not and has not been a Democratic or a Republican created crisis. Instead, it is a crisis of meddlers in an economic system called Capitalism, and they have meddled with it without grasping what they were doing.
We have sacrificed long term gain for short-term jumps in consumption over and over again, with no regard for how we are going to replace that consumption that we pulled from the future into today's market.
And we have sacrificed a solid money supply for one of fiat money, where budgets do not matter(Thank you Richard Nixon).
Meanwhile we approach $20 trillion in deficits with artificially low interest rates, which have encouraged even more borrowing. Thank you Alan Greenspan and Ben Bernanke.
If you think the rules of the the United States economy have changed and you think the rules of investing have changed, you are right.
Stockman goes back to the roots of this rotten tree and explains in very good detail how we got here, and why we are dying economically, even though we are told over and over and over again that the economy is turning the corner. It isn't.
This book is long, but well worth the listening time to complete. Our future economic success has been placed into the hands of just a few single points of failure.
It's important you know why it's failing, so that you can prepare for what is certainly coming in the not too distant future for the United States.
I chose this book hoping to learn something useful about our economy. Instead I got a book that seems to be analogous of it: disjointed, complex, totally mysterious and above all, resembling an enormous Rube Goldberg machine with levers and buttons that the servants of the moneyed class pull and push like children running rampant on an active submarine. When it sinks, they will all point the finger of blame at someone else. I have long suspected this; Stockman’s book proves it. Or, at least I think it does. I could almost hear other people with his background shouting refutations and angry rebuttals at his interpretation of things.
The greatest genius in the world teaches no one if he will not speak on their level. If portions of this book were accidentally shuffled on an iPod, how would you know? Knowledgeable authors are able to present things in a simple-enough manner to get their points across, while the ignorant ramble on as if they have insight and savvy flowing over. This author handles his subject as if it is so sophisticated that it can only be talked about using a never-ending stream of esotericism; acronyms, abbreviations and similes practically tripping over one another. I know the world of high finance has a language of its own, but,..“If the trumpet makes an uncertain sound, who shall prepare for battle?” One gets the idea he is trying to impress the reader. Mostly he baffles him.
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