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Publisher's Summary

From a prizewinning economic historian, an eye-opening reinterpretation of the 2008 economic crisis (and its 10-year aftermath) as a global event that directly led to the shockwaves being felt around the world today.

In September 2008 President George Bush could still describe the financial crisis as an incident local to Wall Street. In fact, it was a dramatic caesura of global significance that spiraled around the world, from the financial markets of the UK and Europe to the factories and dockyards of Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America, forcing a rearrangement of global governance. In the United States and Europe, it caused a fundamental reconsideration of capitalist democracy, eventually leading to the war in the Ukraine, the chaos of Greece, Brexit, and Trump.     

It was the greatest crisis to have struck Western societies since the end of the Cold War, but was it inevitable? And is it over? Crashed is a dramatic new narrative resting on original themes: the haphazard nature of economic development and the erratic path of debt around the world; the unseen way individual countries and regions are linked together in deeply unequal relationships through financial interdependence, investment, politics, and force; the ways the financial crisis interacted with the spectacular rise of social media, the crisis of middle-class America, the rise of China, and global struggles over fossil fuels. 

Finally, Adam Tooze asks, given this history, what now are the prospects for a liberal, stable, and coherent world order?

©2018 Adam Tooze (P)2018 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

"An important and insightful work...combines an economic history with geopolitical analysis of the 2008 financial crisis and the subsequent decade." (Library Journal)

"First-rate financial history and an admirable effort to wrestle a world-changing series of events between covers." (Kirkus Reviews)

"Tooze makes the arcana of international economic policy relevant to a lay audience by framing his account with Donald Trump’s political ascension.... In addition to making international economics understandable and attention grabbing, Tooze has written an essential addition to the ranks of histories that place Trumpism in context." (Publishers Weekly)

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  • Gary
  • Las Cruces, NM, United States
  • 08-19-18

A vaccine against substance free deceivers

This is not an easy book to follow but it is a necessary one in order to avoid being misled by bloviators of substance free self appointed spewers of financial misinformation. It deals intelligently with an incredibly complicated set of worldwide connections (financial, geo-political and sociological) and delves into one of the defining moments of our time period, the financial crisis and its aftermath.

If one reads a book about WW II, one should know the date September 1, 1939 as the date when it started and that way the narrative of the story telling never gets away from the reading of the book. Similarly, if one wants to understand our present times one must know the date September 15, 2008, the day that the ATMs almost did not deliver $20 bills and the day that the commercial paper almost ‘broke the buck’ if the government had not intervened. The day the world’s financial system almost collapsed. This book tells that day’s story, what led up to it and what happened after.

There’s a movie and a book that are cited by the author, ‘The Big Short’. They captured the craziness that led to the ‘great recession’. This book, ‘Crashed’, fills in the details and the aftermath and explains in a detailed and erudite fashion (unfortunately, this book does read complexly and I would even venture to say that the person who wrote the review on this book in the New York Times was not able to fully understand this book, but he definitely understood enough of why this book is important and relayed enough such that I knew I wanted to read this book. Even if a reader doesn’t know the difference between a ‘swap and a ‘repo’ or ‘reverse repo’ a reader will get the gist of the book).

The author explains the world before September 15, 2008 and what led to it, then highlights the FED and what America did right, and then looks at the pre and post 2011 period and the self inflicted chaos that Europe and Asia foisted on themselves when they wrongly dealt with the systemic problem inherent in the financial system. The world and its parts are globally connected and made of many moving parts. NATO matters and Putin was an authoritarian thrower of monkey wrenches even in those days and wanted to create chaos mainly against America and in order to try to expand his hegemony at any cost even if it meant unilaterally selling MBSs in order to hurt America just for its own sake, and China did smart things and then did stupid things.

Confidence fairies (bond vigilantes) and austerity hawks (lovers of misery for others, but never for themselves) riled against all the solutions that worked and mindlessly echoed empty slogans such as ‘don’t debase the dollar’ and ‘runaway inflation is the real threat’ and ‘balance the budget to restore prosperity’ in their substance fact free universe while preaching against every single reasonable action while being wrong about everything. The author does specifically quote from Fox News, Brietbart News and Steve Bannon, Glenn Beck and Niall Ferguson (sp?) as gloom and doom substance free and fact free mongers who had nothing but fear and feelings as their guidepost as they spouted those empty slogans. That kind of substance free critic never gets proved wrong since they have no solutions but only offer substance free criticism void of data or academic rigor. They can never fail. They can only be failed by imaginary others, and they never let facts get in the way of the false version of reality they create, because in the end they need FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) in order to maintain ignorance so they can ultimately keep people afraid and try to convince you to hate the same people they hate. This book is an antidote to that stupidity.

A major theme of the book is that blame for the crisis was put on ‘politicians, workers and welfare recipients’ and not on the real culprits ‘bankers and financial institutions’. As stated in this book, at the start of the crisis Fox News and other right wing outlets blamed the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) for the crisis for allowing minorities to have subpar loans thus in their twisted world view causing the complete melt down of the housing market. This book will provide data, facts, and a narrative shooting down such irresponsible statements. The bankers and the financial institutions (with the assistance of the rating agencies) almost destroyed the financial stability of the world and their enablers in the media put the blame on politicians and regulators, workers and welfare recipients (remember, they used to say 47% of Americans don’t pay taxes as if that was the cause of the rich bankers and financial institutions stealing and purposely creating a financial bubble. The only honest thing Greenspan ever said was ‘I’m shocked, I can’t believe it. The bankers lied to me’).

We live in a complex world within a web of interlocking connections. Simpletons love to get on TV and spout their idle chatter on subjects that they know nothing about all the while thinking that the more they talk about the subject means the more they know, when in reality it’s the converse, the more they talk the less informed they are.

Reality is complex, and the financial world and its interactions are not easily comprehended. The hateful want us to remain ignorant of the connections and it is easy for them to shout ‘fake news’ and spout substance free idle chatter on my TV in order to control us through fear. The truth is out there but it sometimes takes effort to find it and understand it.

It’s not easy to understand what happened. It is easy to be misled. A book like this one goes a long way towards immunizing us from the virus of substance free deceivers.

17 of 19 people found this review helpful

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Incredible

Tooze is an incredibly eloquent writer. This book is an extensive of overview of the output as well as the outcome of the financial crisis. Highly enjoyable & an impressive narrative. Simon Vance was brilliant choice for a narrator (as always).

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Political bias overshadowed a well researched book

This book took a very unfortunate turn about halfway in where the author spent more time venting political prejudices than discussing what the financial crisis means for the future. The conclusions lose credibility when the author can’t see the many angles that impact decisions. He showed a very linear and single minded view. I would recommend sorkins work on the gfc instead.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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authors politics negatively impacted the content <br />

author suffers a bit of Trump derangement syndrome.
past events are looked via partizan prism

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Profound & mind-expanding economics tour de force

Buckle your seat belt and open your mind~ Tooze explores a panoply of the social, political and economic dimensions of contemporary and historic economic crises. I found many of my foundational perspectives and worldviews both expanded and challenged, and was astounded by Tooze's ability to effectively communicate multiple perspectives on key emerging events along the timeline of multiple-interrelated economic crises around the world. In an age of rapidly evolving globalism, he rightly, I believe, conveys the urgency of vigorous exploration of these interrelations in our efforts to understand and steer our economic and political institutions and policies. ~A fascinating and deeply enriching exploration~

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • CB
  • 08-20-18

jargony

"ABCPs .. off balance sheet SIV exposure, holding 2/3 of the commercial paper issued...."

"London as the hub for the over the counter OTC interest rates derivatives business, a means of betting against the risk of interest rate fluctuations and an essential component to repo deals."

If any of that makes sense to you then Tooze is your man. If, on the other hand, you are expecting this book to avoid financial baffle gab and make some sense of the world economic order, then ... not so much.

3 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Important modern history (political economy)

Must read history of recent political economy. You can't understand our current global situation without learning this history

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super reader

comprehensive and yet moving along with a constant search for causes and connections. the author cautions us to avoid a fuzzy, imprecise summary of harrowing events and decisions.

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Great long tail examination of how Trump happened

Adam Tooze provides a woven tapestry, rooted in the near calamity of the subprime and banking crises of 2008-2009 and the failure of a proper expansive response by anti-Obama Congressional forces that stymied the kind of stimulus needed to ensure robust growth recovery. Instead, a generation of labor has been underemployed, creating anger and anti-immigrant pressures that permitted Trump to
happen.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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A Riveting Tale of Economic and Political Crisis

Adam Tooze’s sweeping account and astute analysis of the circumstances and impacts of the global economic crises of the early 2000s is every bit as engaging as a taut spy thriller. An armchair economist of the last decade, I thought I knew all the key players and major plots. But drawing on thousands of sources both common and obscure, Tooze introduces us to new characters with hidden agendas and subplots and plot twists hitherto unknown. Rather than a purely American economic crisis, the near collapse of the banking system in 2008 is revealed to have been a financial trauma of epic and global proportion. Contrary to the rhetoric of populists and nationalists, we live in a world of deeply interdependent economies and political systems. Throughout, Tooze guides the reader through the narratives that played out, both publicly and privately, as central banks and major governments battled financial contagion and economic collapse. And Tooze doesn’t shy away from passing judgment: the Fed (and China initially) did well; the ECB and the Euro zone did not. The book covers events in the U.S., EU, UK, China, Russia, Eastern Europe, and Southeast Asia (to a lesser degree). By the end of the book, the EU’s prolonged “extend-and-pretend” and failed austerity measures felt like the worst broken record ever. I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a deeper understanding of this past decade’s economic history, although I will caution this is not an introduction. Some familiarity with economics, finance, and reserve banking will be enormously helpful in staying engaged with the story.