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Publisher's Summary

Eight years on from the biggest market meltdown since the Great Depression, the key lessons of the crisis of 2008 still remain unlearned - and our financial system is just as vulnerable as ever. Many of us know that our government failed to fix the banking system after the subprime mortgage crisis. But what few of us realize is how the misguided financial practices and philosophies that nearly toppled the global financial system have come to infiltrate all American businesses, putting us on a collision course with another cataclysmic meltdown.

Drawing on in-depth reporting and exclusive interviews at the highest rungs of Wall Street and Washington, Time assistant managing editor and economic columnist Rana Foroohar shows how the "financialization of America" - the trend by which finance and its way of thinking have come to reign supreme - is perpetuating Wall Street's reign over Main Street, widening the gap between rich and poor, and threatening the future of the American dream.

Policy makers get caught up in the details of regulating "too big to fail" banks, but the problems in our market system go much broader and deeper than that. Consider that:

  • Thanks to 40 years of policy changes and bad decisions, only about 15 percent of all the money in our market system actually ends up in the real economy - the rest stays within the closed loop of finance itself.
  • The financial sector takes a quarter of all corporate profits in this country while creating only 4 percent of American jobs.
  • The tax code continues to favor debt over equity, making it easier for companies to hoard cash overseas rather than reinvest it on our shores.
  • Our biggest and most profitable corporations are investing more money in stock buybacks than in research and innovation.

And still the majority of the financial regulations promised after the 2008 meltdown have yet come to pass thanks to cozy relationships between our lawmakers and the country's wealthiest financiers.

Exploring these forces that have led American businesses to favor balancing-sheet engineering over the actual kind and the pursuit of short-term corporate profits over job creation, Foroohar shows how financialization has so gravely harmed our society and why reversing this trend is of grave importance to us all. Through colorful stories of both "Takers" and "Makers", she'll reveal how we change the system for a better and more sustainable shared economic future.

©2016 Rana Foroohar (P)2016 Random House Audio

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Amazing

I've read and listened to a number of books on financial markets and the economy. I have never read or listened to a book that so astutely goes over all of the major important points on how our economy has become as rigged as it is.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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A MUST READ!

This was a very easy to understand synopsis of our current financial situation as well as weaving research and history into the narrative of how our system became what it is today. If we are to survive as a democracy, we ALL need to understand what is happening with our economy and elect people who share that understanding so we can fix it for this and future generations. Should be required reading for all high schools so they can grasp the ideas of how an economy should work that is by, of, and for the people.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Excellent, well researched and well presented

This is an excellent book. It takes an incredibly complex storyline and simplifies it so we can understand The myriad contributors to our financial and societal challenges.

I found myself looking forward to a summary of what could be done to solve these issues: summary that was provided in the last chapter. I wish the author had presented her recommendations in A more concise and concrete summary. Because we need concise and understandable solutions if we are going to have a chance of seeing them executed.

Overall a great book

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Drew
  • Green Brook, NJ, United States
  • 06-17-16

Financialization is the new F word

If you can handle the truth, sit down, strap in and hold on. Rana's research is superseded only by the logical presentation of the facts -- truths that political spin doctors and private moneyed interests may take issue with -- that include clear cause/effect examples which contribute to the economic situation we face today.


2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Bryan
  • San Diego, CA, United States
  • 02-17-17

I Can't Sing Enough Praises About It

Rana Foroohar, who is an assistant managing editor at TIME and the magazine’s economics columnist, makes a compelling argument that Finance and NOT just poor economic theory is mostly to blame for our current economic problems. She makes the point that most economist (who were asleep at the switch during the 2008 financial meltdown) have very little academic training in finance, and haven't spent much time researching the economic impact the finance sector has on our economy. Starting with Presidents Carter through Obama, most Presidents have slowly deregulated the finance sector of our economy. She also argues that the Dodd-Frank law enacted after the 2008 financial meltdown made everyone feel a bit better, but didn't really change the way Wall Street or the Big Banks operate due to so many loop-holes written into the law (mostly by Wall Street lobbyist). This is a prime example of crony capitalism at work! Only by enacting new, stricter laws and regulations can America break the stranglehold Wall Street and the Big Banks have over our economy. Ms. Foroohar in the final chapter of her book gives a laundry list of suggestions to change things for the better. A similar argument was made during the Democratic primaries by Senator Bernie Sanders, and during the recent convention managed to get many of his ideas put into the Democratic platform, namely Wall Street reform.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Incredibly Insightful!

Would you listen to Makers and Takers again? Why?

Yes, The narration was excellent and the story is insightful. Getting the inside scoop on these companies and banks is important because we never hear the truth. Its great to make lots of money but we can now see over the years which companies put the shareholders happiness over there customers, and how that has ultimately lead to there demise or just a crappy company that never grows or improves its products.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

It made me upset that MOST of American business is more about pleasing shareholders rather than Innovation. When she starts off with the Tim Cook vs. Steve Jobs way of running a company I was hooked. I'm all for making profits and staying lean but not at the cost of Innovation, even in banking.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Fantastic

Essential in my opinion to be a well-informed American. The book is never dull and its scope is very wide.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Great book and performance

Eye opening assessment of the post-2008 financial economy, and events that contributed to the collapse. It was very easy to listen to the performance despite it being relatively lengthy. A+

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Information and theme way too repetitive

I got the message but felt that the same lines and themes were repeated throughout the book. There was very little detailed evidence. The author made an assertion provided a thumbnail in terms of evidence and consequently undermined her hypothesis. Too bad because I agree with her contention. We have to get back to channeling the American spirit and making things. We also have to get rid of a tendency to focus on the short term. No where is this more evident in the unceasing cuts to education. If we want the US to maintain a dominant position in the world we need an educated work force that is literate, has an understanding of the world and is politically astute.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Ralph
  • Knoxville, TN, United States
  • 12-29-17

Good problem identification but poor analysis

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

Foroohar has correctly identified the growing problem of finance, the all-too cozy relationship between the larger banks and the government. Even legislation that is intended to curb their excesses and correct their practices becomes yet another opportunity for them to exert their influence and increase their powers and protect their actions. Yet she misses what should be the all too obvious problem that lies at the center of this- the Federal Reserve. Banking has always wielded much power in government but with the Reserve the power has been concentrated in a select few, their power has increased, and they are shielded from any true reform. Foroohar also suffers from poor analysis and I was quite surprised that the publishers did not step in and correct this. In arguing against the illusory claims that fees were going to come down with the application of technology, she merely points out that fees actually increased over a period. I cannot recall the precise numbers but it was something along the lines of 85%. What she missed was that assets under management increased almost 150%. That she would only look at things on a net basis was shoddy at best. Next, on several occasions she picks out years to be a baseline year that have no rationale other than to make her point seem more profound. Lastly, her constant referral to Sen. Warren without acknowledging other voices in government reemphasizes the shoddy analysis. The problems are ingrained in the system and she is exposing them. Unfortunately, her "cures" would be more destructive than the system as it is. And to think she is considered to be one of the better financial journalists.

Would you be willing to try another book from Rana Foroohar? Why or why not?

I would be skeptical and cautious of purchasing another book from Foroohar.

Did Makers and Takers inspire you to do anything?

Yes. think about writing a better book on the topic.